UK Defense Outlook
The UK accounts for a key segment of the European Defense segment. In 2020, European defense spending was noted to be USD 2 Trillion approximately. The UK accounts for roughly 2.2-2.4% of Europe’s defense expenditure. The UK’s defense spending witnessed a nominal increase in defense expenditure by a value of roughly 12%. In 2021, the UK defense budget attained a value of USD 68 Billion. In the year 2020, the UK had a defense budget with a value of USD 44.6 Billion. An increase of 2 Billion pounds was witnessed between 2019 and 2020.
The total discretionary spending includes both defense and non-defense purposes. The overall value accounts for roughly one-third of the annual federal budget. UK’s defense spending accounts for approximately 10% of all federal spending and 50% of the discretionary spending. Approximately 2% of the UK’s GDP accounts for its defense spending.
UK’s investment in R&D activities
UK’s defense-based R&D investment was noted to be USD 43.41 Billion (Current value) for the year 2019. The UK’s defense spending was noted to be 1.74% of the total GDP contribution for this year. The UK government is anticipated to have a total R&D investment of roughly 2.4% by the year 2027. Increased investment has been witnessed for UK’s unmanned vehicles market. The growth in requirement for border security owing to the intensifying geopolitical conflicts is expected to drive this investment.
Unmanned Ground Vehicles Programs in the UK
One of the key unmanned ground vehicles defense programs in the UK is being conducted by the UK MOD’s Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory). The agency has been studying the potential application of autonomous and remote-controlled systems for supply operations. The UK army has been trying to improve the lethality and combat capabilities via the integration of unmanned ground vehicles since the year 2020. Unmanned vehicles are combat systems that are to be deployed across high-risk zones. The use of these systems across land platforms is expected to enhance combat abilities for the UK. Moreover, the integration of this technology is poised to aid both assets as well as soldier security. The development of these unmanned ground vehicles is presently taking place under the project Thesus.
In the year 2020, the UK MOD purchased 3 each of HORIBA MIRA’s Viking and QinetiQ’s Titan UGV. These vehicles can be powered via an electric battery and a diesel-electric mode. The Viking has the potential to carry payloads with a weight of roughly 600Kg, while the Titan can transport approximately 750 Kgs. The introduction of this program is poised to redefine the defense technology that is presently employed by the UK defense forces.
The contract received by Horiba was valued at USD 930,279, while the supply of 3 UGVs accounted for USD 2.82 Million. The agreement was a part of a cross-government collaboration program for the second phase of the Autonomous Last Mile Resupply (ALMRS) competition in July 2018. The competition aimed to demonstrate the use of unmanned vehicles across forwarding positions on the battlefield. The Dstl and the British Army were poised to conduct trials for this project on behalf of the UK MOD. Both, the Titan and Viking went through rigorous tests during 4 weeks, their implementation was assessed during this timespan. The introduction of unmanned ground vehicles within the UK’s defense forces is expected to improve soldier security since the UGVs are to perform mission-critical, hazardous operations. The unmanned vehicles are to be deployed in high-risk zones thus saving the lives of soldiers and simultaneously increasing the tactical ability of the UK’s forces.
The purpose of Unmanned Ground Vehicles in the UK defense forces
The introduction of autonomous vehicles was initiated in the year 2011 by the UK defense forces. The objective of this program was to reduce the involvement of personnel logistics operations. The use of unmanned systems allowed the deployment of armaments and basic amenities to high-risk zones. The inclusion of this technology is hereby poised to improve the soldier’s morale.
Recent Programs in the UK Unmanned Ground Vehicles Market
In 2021, Israel Aerospace Industries and UK’s Marlborough Communications Limited received a contract to deliver 4 Remote Platoon vehicles to the British MOD. A series of trials are to be performed to identify the market potential for unmanned vehicles within the UK’s forces. The company Marlborough was previously awarded a contract for the development of the Spiral 1 Phase of the RPV experimentation program. The latest contract is a part of the Spiral 2 program, it is to be manufactured by Elta systems.