£16.5bl funding for Armed Forces AI, cyber and space agency

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The Ministry of Defence will create a new agency dedicated to AI, a National Cyber Force and a Space Command team as the government invests £16.5bl in the Armed Forces.

The Prime Minister announced the funding on 19 November, with investment in cyber and aerospace described as a cornerstone of the four-year defence settlement.

According to the MoD, the funding will enable the UK’s first satellite to be launched and controlled from Britain by rocket in 2022.

The National Cyber Force will disrupt terrorists, hostile state activity and criminals as well as transforming the UK’s cyber capabilities. This Ministry of Defence and GCHQ partnership will conduct responsible cyber operations ranging from countering terror plots to supporting military operations.

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of Defence Staff, said:This multi-year settlement is very welcome for the Armed Forces. It funds a pathway to modernisation and the digital force we need for the 2030s, integrated across the domains of maritime, air, land, cyber and space.

“It allows us to adapt in the near-term to deter the range of complex threats we face. It secures the defence of our country, gives meaning to the vision of global Britain, and sends a powerful message to our allies and opponents.”

The funding will also enable the development of autonomous vehicles, swarm drones, and battlefield awareness systems.

Rob Bassett Cross, chief  executive of AI platform Adarga welcomed the funding, he said: “It will enable the MoD to leverage the UK’s world leading data science and software engineering talent, to not only help meet the nature of threats now presented in an era of persistent competition, but to benefit the security and prosperity of the UK as a whole.

“I warmly welcome the exciting development of new agency dedicated to artificial intelligence. This will allow the MoD to be bold in its transformation agenda and not to fill holes in existing, outdated programmes, but to shift gear strategically into the Information era.”

The investment promised to create up to 10,000 British jobs a year and support thousand more. It will also see funding put into the Royal Navy for an expansion of vessels to create “the biggest surface fleet of modern warships on Europe”.

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