Boeing P-8I

�12bn defence spending will boost aerial and ground forces

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a £12bn defence spending boost that will fund a new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft and create two new rapid-reaction ‘strike brigades’.

Nine Boeing P8 maritime will be purchased for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare.

The government said the aircraft will also boost the protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and new aircraft carriers and will be fitted with torpedoes and a broad range of sensors, including radar and sonobuoys.

The ‘strike brigades’ will be implemented by 2025 and are designed to be rapidly deployable using the new Ajax family range of vehicles. This will comprise of six variants and almost 600 armoured vehicles.

The announcement of £12bn in equipment spending is part of the Government's National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review in the Commons.

The Prime Minister is also expected to make further announcements later today as he sets out the government’s future plans for national security, including its focus on aid in fragile states and regions to tackle conflicts.

Cameron said the strategy was based around ‘an understanding that we cannot choose between conventional defences against state-based threats and the need to counter threats that do not recognise national borders’.

"Today we face both and we must respond to both," he said.

"So, over the course of this Parliament, our priorities are to deter state-based threats, tackle terrorism, remain a world leader in cyber security and ensure we have the capability to respond rapidly to crises as they emerge.

"By sticking to our long-term economic plan, Britain has become the fastest-growing major advanced economy in the world for the last two years. Our renewed economic security means we can afford to invest further in our national security. This is vital at a time when the threats to our country are growing.”

The budget announcements are also expected to include a 10-year extension to the operational lifespan of the RAF's Typhoon jets and upgrade work to give them ground attack capabilities - effectively adding two additional frontline squadrons.

It has already been announced that the SAS and other special forces will get an extra £2bn to improve their equipment, the RAF will double its number of drones, an extra £1.9bn will be spent on cyber security and 1,900 new spies recruited.

Unions fear the defence strategy could include big cuts in the civilian workforce working in the Ministry of Defence, with some suggesting that up to 12,000 staff could be affected.

"The Tories will claim they're protecting defence by not being seen to cut the military, but cuts on this scale to the civilian workforce would seriously undermine the support our armed forces get at home and on the frontline," said one union official.

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