CAROLINE WELCOMES GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO INVEST £178 BILLION IN MILITARY EQUIPMENT

Local MP Caroline Dinenage has today welcomed the Prime Minister's publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and its clear commitment to investing over £178 billion in buying and maintaining military equipment over the next decade. This will directly benefit the Solent region by providing job security to local servicemen and women and the defence industry, which drives our local economy.

The SDSR is the Government's foremost document on defence strategy. Together with the National Security Strategy it reviews the threats the UK faces, what capabilities the UK needs to respond to them and how to configure the Armed Forces accordingly. The last SDSR made significant cuts to Armed Forces personnel and equipment. However, the global context has shifted significantly since 2010, with new developments including Russia's actions on NATO's eastern flank and the rise of the Islamic State, which are at the forefront of national attention following on from the tragic events in Paris.

The Prime Minister today confirmed that the Ministry of Defence will be purchasing a new squadron of 24 F35 Joint Striker aircraft. These will be available on our two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers by 2023, ensuring their long lifespan. Both of the new carriers currently under construction will be brought into operation, ensuring that a carrier is available at all times. This is excellent news for the Solent region as Portsmouth Naval Base will be home to the two aircraft carriers and these are the largest ships that the Royal Navy has ever had under its command.

In addition, the Government announced the creation of two new strike brigades, forces of up to 5,000 personnel each, fully equipped to deploy rapidly and sustain themselves in the field; nine new maritime patrol aircrafts to protect our nuclear deterrent; £2bn for the SAS and other special forces; 2 typhoon squadrons; 8 type 26 frigates and at least another 5 frigates; £1.9bn to be spent on cyber-security; and the replacement of the strategic nuclear deterrent (Trident).

Commenting on the announcement, Caroline said:

"The publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review brings fantastic news for our local area. The commitment to making both Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers operational with a new F35 aircraft squadron will ensure that Portsmouth's historical status as the centre of the British Navy will be maintained. The Government's commitment to significant military expenditure will also provide job security for our area long into the future.

"In the current geo-political climate, these measures are vital for ensuring national security. We have no way of knowing precisely what course events will take over the next five years but the announcements made in the SDSR will ensure our Armed Forces and security services have the versatility and means to keep us safe."

The Prime Minister, David Cameron said:

"Our renewed economic security means we can afford to further invest in our national security – and this Government has taken a clear decision to do so. This is vital at a time when threats to our country are growing. The Strategic Defence and Security Review presents a clear vision for a secure and prosperous United Kingdom, with global reach and global influence."

The United Kingdom is the only major country in the world which is simultaneously going to meet the NATO target of spending 2 per cent of our GDP on defence and the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of our GNI on development, while also increasing investment in our security and intelligence agencies and in counter-terrorism. This means the defence budget will rise by 0.5% above inflation each year from 2016-17 to 2020-21.