27 August 2010 | Angeline Albert
Defence technology suppliers have asked Prime Minister David Cameron to make clear how the UK plans to fund the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system.
A letter sent by Ian Godden, chairman of the aerospace industry body ADS, also requests that the government clarify the Ministry of Defence's (MoD) ability to meet overall defence priorities, given the budget constraints. There is concern in the industry that spending on Trident would hit other defence procurement projects.
The Trident missile programme is due to be replaced in the 2020s at an estimated cost of £20 billion. Chancellor George Osborne has said funding must be taken from the defence budget - £37 billion a year or 2.2 per cent of GDP. The former Labour government said the £20 billion needed for Trident’s replacement would come from a separate budget.
The MoD has already been asked to produce spending plans for budget cuts of up to 20 per cent and defence firms are concerned about how the MoD will bear the full costs of the Trident replacement and meet targets.
Godden said: “It is vital that this confusion is cleared up as soon as possible.”
He added: “Our industry is already committed to working with the MoD to find opportunities for significant cost savings. The defence budget has been squeezed over many years from 4.4 per cent to 2.2 per cent of GDP compared to other departments where budgets have been increased substantially.”