UK defence firms fire warning shots to government over need to push exports

James Nickerson
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The Eurofighter Typhoon has lost out to French competition (Source: Getty)

The UK defence industry is pushing for the government to take a more active role in a battleground for foreign orders.

The UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries trade body organisation, ADS, called for support for smaller firms and improved export controls after the sales to overseas markets fell for the first time since 2011.

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Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS, stressed the need for the government to pursue a strategic role in the industry, if the UK is to win its share of global opportunities in the face of international competition:

International budgets are under pressure, competition is fierce and UK industry needs to be able to win its share of global market opportunities. Industry and Government need to work more strategically.

For this, Everitt wants the government to help secure contracts, putting them in to a difficult moral position:

The government to government relationship is absolutely key in any defence or security arrangement. Our competitive advantage will come from government being able to offer more flexible support.

While Britain maintained its position as the world’s second biggest defence exporter, behind the US, exports fell to £8.5bn last year from £9.8bn in 2013. The recent growth of France’s Rafale combat jet in India and Qatar over the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft – 33 per cent owned by BAE – are one example of where the UK could lose out as other governments take a more active role.

The ADS report, filed yesterday, also argues that maintaining strong exports in the face of international competition is crucial to the health of the industry and Britain’s national security.

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