Defence Industrial Strategy

The Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) is a United Kingdom government policy which was published as a white paper on 15 December 2005. The purpose of the DIS is stated to be to ensure that the UK armed forces are provided with the equipment they require, on time, and at best value for money. This is achieved through the maintenance of sovereign capabilities, i.e. the capabilities of UK companies in key defence areas.

The DIS is structured into three parts. Part A outlines the strategy, part B reviews the UK defence industry, and part C describes the implications of the DIS and how it is to be implemented.

The DIS builds upon the Defence Industrial Policy published in 2002 and the Strategic Defence Review of 1998. UK defence procurement was radically changed by the government of Margaret Thatcher - cost plus contracts and "national champions" were abandoned in favour of competitive tendering. This made the UK defence procurement market the most open in the world[1] and in contrast to the European continent and America.[2] The DIS reverts to the concept of "national champions" to maintain vital capabilities, as identified by the Ministry of Defence "to maintain appropriate sovereignty and thereby protect UK national security."[3] The Defence Industries Council warned in 2004 that the continuation of a totally "open market" approach would see the UK "lose almost completely the strong industrial base that has supplied our armed forces. UK sovereignty could be threatened."[4]

The DIS has been widely seen as confirming BAE Systems as the UK's "national champion".[1][2] Of the key industrial capabilities which must be maintained several are dominated by BAE, including naval vessels and submarines, armoured fighting vehicles (over 95% of the UK’s AFVs are BAE products), fixed-wing aircraft, general munitions (with the exception of certain "niche capabilities abroad") and Network Enabled Capability (defined as C4ISTAR in the DIS). After the publication of the DIS BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner said "If we didn't have the DIS and our profitability and the terms of trade had stayed as they were... then there had to be a question mark about our future in the U.K."[5]

The year after the release of the DIS the government released the Defence Technology Strategy which takes forward some of the themes introduced in the DIS. This document discusses where science and technology research should focus on to deliver the capabilities identified in the DIS. An updated version of the DTS is expected to be published by the Defence Technology Innovation Centre (DTIC) in 2008.

Follow-on strategies

After the following coalition government came to power, it initiated the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010 and later published a white paper titled "National security through technology" in 2012.[6] The following government initiated the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 then held a consultation on a "Defence industrial policy" in 2016.[7]


  1. Barrie, Douglas (2005-12-15). "Brave New World; British grapple with imperatives of future defense industrial requirements, including pursuing UCAV and strategic UAV technology". Aviation Week & Space Technology. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. p. 16.
  2. "The Turner prize; Defence procurement". The Economist. The Economist Newspapers Ltd. 2006-01-07.
  3. "Defence Industrial Strategy: Defence White Paper" (PDF). UK Ministry of Defence. December 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
  4. Hawkins, William R. (2004-11-10). "Saving the U.S. Defense Industrial Base". AmericanEconomicAlert. Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
  5. Barrie, Douglas (2005-12-07). "British Defense Industrial Strategy Secures BAE Systems as U.K. Champion". Aviation Week & Space Technology. The McGraw-Hill Companies. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  6. National security through technology (Report). Ministry of Defence. 1 February 2012. ISBN 978-0-10-182782-9. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  7. "Defence industrial policy". Ministry of Defence. 22 November 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
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