UK armed forces face an equipment funding shortfall of $21.6 bn over the next 10 years

United Kingdom’s (UK) armed forces face an equipment funding shortfall of 17 billion pounds ($21.6 billion) over the next 10 years, as per a recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The National Audit Office put the estimate for the budget for new weapons and equipment at 305.5 billion pounds for 2023-2033, 16.9 billion pounds over budget, the largest deficit since its first report in 2012.

Basically, the mounting costs in nuclear and naval programmes, as Britain works on a replacement nuclear deterrent, as well as high inflation have pushed up the future budget.

Resultantly, this had led to “marked deterioration” in the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) financial position.

Besides, Russia’s war in Ukraine has highlighted the need for extra military spending across Europe, with Britain an important ally and provider of military equipment to Kyiv. It has also been investing in improving its own equipment readiness and expanding munitions facilities.

UK’s Defence Minister Grant Shapps said in response to the watchdog’s report that while the government was forecasting budgetary pressure, “the department is confident it can live within its equipment budget”.

Noteworthy, the UK Government raised spending on defence by an extra 5 billion pounds earlier this year, increasing it to about 2.25 percent of gross domestic product this year and next.

Previously, it had been about 2 percent.

Also, UK’s Defence Minister Grant Shapps said that the NAO’s report did not consider the government’s aspiration to raise defence spending to 2.5% of GDP when economic conditions allowed.

However, the Ministry of Defence acknowledges that its Equipment Plan for 2023-2033 is unaffordable.