Brothers in arms: UK and US sign ‘battle-winning’ defence deal in sign of post-Brexit unit

Defence Minister James Heappey stressed the deal would help the UK forge a “battle-winning edge” – and demonstrated “Global Britain” remained the “partner of choice” for the US. Today’s agreement, which covers the period from 2023 to 2027, paves the way for a series of collaborations between the two armies aimed at improving cooperation in the face of the constantly evolving nature of modern warfare.

This agreement signals our shared determination to develop the novel capabilities that will give us that battle-winning edge

James Heappey

Priorities include shared digital infrastructure; long Range Precision Fires; working closely to improve helicopter capability; land forces; and Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (APNT).

The signing took place at the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, where Armed Forces minister Mr Heappey and Ryan D McCarthy, the US Secretary of the Army discussed in detail the plans to work together to modernise systems.

Mr Heappey said: “In an age of great power competition and constant conflict, there is an even greater onus on us to work together with our greatest allies.

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“This agreement signals our shared determination to develop the novel capabilities that will give us that battle-winning edge and opportunity for the defence industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It is a reminder that, in a more challenging and uncertain world, Global Britain remains the United States partner of choice.”

Mr McCarthy added: “The United Kingdom, one of our strongest allies, has helped secure our shared interests and values since the World Wars of the last century.

“Today, we continue to rely on our allies to posture ourselves for future threats, project power, deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries.

“This partnership allows costly and complex problems to be distributed and helps protect the industrial base through enabling faster innovation and cost-sharing towards achieving our modernisation priorities.”

The deal has been agreed in parallel to the imminent Integrated Review, with modernisation and pioneering capabilities at its core, an MoD spokesman said.

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The review will look at the best ways of modernising military equipment and improving the capability of the UK’s armed forces and intelligence agencies.

Assessing the scope of the Integrated Review in an analysis published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) earlier this month, Professor Peter Roberts, Director of Military Sciences, said: “The requirement for the Review to take a position on the UK’s role in the world remains central: there is still a pressing need to move beyond glib assertions of ‘Global Britain’ and provide some substance.

“For, while the Review’s task remains unchanged, the answers may now be different.”

“The world certainly looks different now as the perceptions of threats (or at least our understanding of their impact) change.”

Additionally, once as parts of the world emerge from the health crisis at different speeds to others and with different implications for their economies, there was likely to be a shift in the balance of power between different states, Mr Roberts warned.

He added: “This may intensify challenges to the existing international order, as those striving for change gain in relative influence.

“For status quo powers such as the UK, the need to define a new set of strategic objectives becomes an imperative.”

Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s senior adviser, is believed to be a driving force behind the review.

A frequent critic of the MoD, he outlined his concerns is a scathing blog last year, in which he said: “The officials in charge of multi-billion processes are mostly mediocre, often appalling.

“In the MoD corruption adds to the problems.”

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