DSEi: Defence Secretary highlights defence industry benefits for the UK and its Armed Forces
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox addressed delegates at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) event which is taking place this week at the ExCeL Centre in London.
Above: Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox [Picture: Senior Aircraftman Davidson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010].
DSEi brings together over 1,300 suppliers from the global defence and security sectors - everything from traditional defence platforms to cyber security, and counter-terrorism to commercial security, fire protection and safety.
Dr Fox said that the record number of small and medium-sized businesses represented at DSEi reflects a track record of manufacturing prowess, engineering skill and innovation that exists in businesses and people from across the country.
In his speech, Dr Fox highlighted the value of Defence and the importance of taking pride in the job that our Armed Forces do, as well as noticing those in industry who support them and provide the tools they need.
Dr Fox said: "It is not only that this maintains over 300,000 jobs across the country - in all parts of the United Kingdom.
"It is not only that this pays around £2bn a year in taxes to the Exchequer and a £35bn contribution to the wider economy.
"All this helps to ensure that our Armed Forces and those of our allies and partners are equipped, armed and supported in operations that protect our national interest and give many people in many parts of the world new hope."
Dr Fox went on to talk about how equipment acquired by the Ministry of Defence is benefiting troops on operations across the world. He said: "In Libya, state-of-the-art precision weapons, such as Brimstone, have allowed NATO forces to prosecute a dynamic campaign within the terms of the UN resolution.
"In particular, the performance of Typhoon in its first multi-role contribution to operations has been fantastic - exceeding our own high expectations.
"For some time Britain has relied on Typhoon to defend our homeland and our dependent territories.
"Now Typhoon is tried and tested in a ground attack role too - and has proved its versatility, endurance and reliability."
Dr Fox spoke about how important responsible exporting is and how he is proud that the UK is the second biggest defence exporter in the world.
The vital role that equipment plays in the UK's defence needs was made clear when Dr Fox said: "In this volatile world, it is in Britain's interests to help create security where there is none, promote stability where it is threatened, and reinforce responsible governance wherever it exists.
"Such swift change requires our export regimes as well as our international security structures to be flexible, responsive and multi-layered. And they require our Armed Forces to be adaptable too."
Dr Fox then went on to outline how the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which was announced last year, affects equipment procurement. He highlighted that Defence is not immune in the current economic climate.
Although there are obvious challenges, Dr Fox said the UK defence and security industry is a real success story and paid tribute to family-owned companies such as Tinsley Bridge Group in Sheffield who worked with BAE Systems to produce suspension on Warrior vehicles that provides mobility and protection.
Dr Fox spoke about how defence equipment often takes inspiration from existing technology, citing as an example the new Foxhound light patrol vehicle which incorporates technology developed in Formula 1 racing.
He also highlighted the importance of the working relationship between Defence and industry. He said: "The Ministry of Defence and industry working together can be at the forefront of an export-led growth strategy.
"We also must recognise and understand the needs and priorities of our allies and partners.
"Successful exports are not just about selling equipment and capability; increasingly success is based on the ability to create joint ventures with the excellent industries that exist amongst the countries represented here at DSEi."
To conclude his speech, Dr Fox said that the UK's Armed Forces are among the best equipped in the world, funded by the world's fourth largest Defence Budget: "The cutting-edge technology they [the Armed Forces] are able to call on gives them a true advantage on the front line - it protects them, it informs them, and ultimately it provides them with precision offensive capability to deliver battle-winning effect; it has been tried and tested on operations in some of the most demanding environments in the world.
"At this exhibition you will see much of that equipment and you will see the world class British engineering that is delivering battle-winning capability.
"I am pleased to see so many of our allies and partners here this week - the responsible stewardship of international stability and security is not a task just for a few but a task for all those who wish to see their societies prosper.
"We are reminded this week - in the long shadow of the terrible events of 9/11 - that security does not exist unless it is created.
"As the world changes around us, the adaptability of our defence and security forces will be key to keeping our citizens safe - and the strength of our economy and the innovation of our industry will be key to national success."