UK Defense Review Boosts Royal Air Force

Britain announced it will increase defense spending by roughly $18 billion over the next decade as the result of its latest defense review, reversing cuts to the Royal Air Force as a result of the previous review in 2010. “The risks and threats faced by the UK have increased in scale, diversity, and complexity,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense stated in a Nov. 23 release. “The defense budget as a whole, for the first time in some years, is going to start increasing,” Defense Minister Michael Fallon said, citing increased threats from Russia, the Middle East, North Africa, and against cyber networks. The new plan will add three RAF fighter squadrons—one F-35, and two Eurofighter Typhoon-equipped units—upgrade the Typhoon with new radar, and safeguard the UK’s commitment to buy 138 Lightning IIs, according to the document. The UK will also buy nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, to replace the RAF’s axed Nimrod fleet, and extend its E-3D AWACS, Sentinel, Airseeker, and Shadow ISR fleets well into the future. The plan also stipulates upgrade and extension of the RAF’s C-130J airlift fleet—previously slated for replacement by the A400M—through at least 2030. “We appreciate the UK’s decisions to invest in a broad range of capabilities, focused on power projection, innovation, and deterrence,” said US Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a Nov. 23 statement. “This approach positions the UK to continue to play a leading role in responding globally to a variety of threats, and sets an example for the rest of the NATO Alliance.”