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Defence review promises 1.2% of defence budget spend on technology

The government’s defence review highlights need for technology investment, innovative ideas and cyber security

The government will create a cross-government emerging technology and innovation cell to ensure the UK is taking advantage of new technologies, according to the government’s latest defence and security review, published on 23 November 2015.

“We will improve our technology scouting for new threats and opportunities, drawing in ideas and systems pioneered in fields beyond defence and security,” the report said.

The National Security Strategy and strategic defence and security review 2015 also promised to dedicate 1.2% of the defence budget to science and technology during this parliament, and to increase funding to support procuring innovative systems for the armed forces, as part of the £165m Defence and Cyber Innovation Fund.

The fund was announced by chancellor George Osborne on 17 November 2015, and will support procurement across defence and cyber security.

Osborne also promised a £1.9bn investment in cyber security over the next five years.

In 2016, the government will publish a five-year national Cyber Security Strategy and launch a further five-year National Cyber Security Programme, according to the review.

“These will ensure that we have in place all the necessary components to defend the UK from cyber attack,” the review said. 

“These include capabilities that allow us to understand and tackle the most advanced threats; law enforcement capabilities to deal with cyber crime; support for businesses, particularly in the UK’s critical national infrastructure; and the skills and innovation needed for the long term.”

The government will review which technologies it needs to develop in-house and which it should “obtain commercially and through partnership and joint investment with allies, academia and industry”.

It will establish a defence and security accelerator for the government to help those partners to turn ideas into innovative equipment faster, the report added.

James Murphy, techUK associate director for defence and security, said the previous review failed to acknowledge the role of information in national security, but this time “the government has clearly understood that to stay at the cutting edge, secure our national interests and to prepare for operations in the information age, different steps needed to be taken”.

“By working closely together, sharing information and collaborating, government departments and industry will enhance the UK’s ability to protect our citizens and economy,” he said. 

The government will also establish a counter-terrorism operation centre, which includes an upgrade of counter-terrorism technology such as technical intelligence collection and digital forensic capability.

“The ability to acquire intelligence and evidence from electronic communications, subject to strict safeguards, is and will remain vital to the effective work of law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies,” the review said.

The Joint Forces Command, which was set up in 2012 to ensure joint capabilities across the armed forces, will lead work at the Ministry of Defence to “improve its understanding of our security environment, using new information technology and greater analytical power to exploit big data, social media and both open source and classified material”, according to the review.

The government will also strengthen its command and control systems to make them work more easily with other Nato allies. xxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx xxxx

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