The UK government on Thursday announced the establishment of a National Cyber Force manned with intelligence and military personnel as part of a £16.5 billion push in the defence sector as the country prepares for life out of the EU from January 1, 2021.
Setting out the new impetus, Johnson told the House of Commons that £1.5 billion will be invested in military research and development, designed to master the new technologies of warfare. The new funding raises the UK’s defence spending to at least 2.2% of its GDP.
Officials said the multi-year settlement of £16.5 billion takes the total extra spending to £24.1 billion over the next four years.
Johnson said, “(We will establish a new centre dedicated to Artificial Intelligence and a new RAF (Royal Air Force Space Command, launching British satellites and our first rocket from Scotland in 2022.
“I can announce that we have established a National Cyber Force, combining our intelligence agencies and service personnel, which is already operating in cyberspace against terrorism, organised crime and hostile state activity.”
“And the RAF will receive a new fighter system, harnessing Artificial Intelligence and drone technology to defeat any adversary in air-to-air combat,” he added.
Johnson also announced the building of more ships for the Royal Navy, including the ongoing construction of two aircraft carriers, each estimated to cost £3 billion. They are expected to be operational in 2023 as part of the force’s Carrier Strike Group.
“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades, encompassing the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and East Asia. We shall forward deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation,” he said.