The UK is slated to become a "minor player" in the global defence export market by 2024, according to a new report by marketing firm IHS Markit.
The report explains the change — which underscores a perennial concern among military enthusiasts about the country's dwindling military prowess — by pointing to "planning and investment failures in its [UK's] domestic industry," which it says are likely to be worsened by an impending Brexit.
"Based on existing orders and import backlog the UK is now set to become a net defence importer at a system level by 2024 for the first time since the English civil war," writes author of the report, Ben Moores.
— John Brandler (@Brandler1) 7 February 2019
— Future Nation (@FutureNation7) 7 February 2019
The report points to the UK government's preference for trying to strike a balance between retaining robust military capabilities while slashing manufacturing budgets and pursuing purchases of cheaper military hardware from abroad. It warns that, "this policy led to the end of the vehicle industry over the past decade and is now set to see the UK's aviation sector lose large segments through lack of domestic offset from foreign manufacturers. Brexit will accelerate this trend."
UK defence manufacturers BAE Systems and Babcock International have for a long time been two of the largest producers of aircrafts warships & tanks to the British military and beyond.
Moreover, the report's author raises concerns about the stability of the UK's domestic defence manufacturing as the country becomes increasingly reliant on foreign imports.
"As the UK moves away from its domestic defence manufacturing industrial base, it is becoming an increasingly more important market for exporters. The UK is set to become the fifth largest market for defence imports, despite being traditionally outside the top 10 importers."
— Alam Chaudry (@Alam_Chaudry) 7 February 2019
Yes, it is true. France, Russia and US are the main powers in this market. Israel is also making in roads.
— Rambert (@jeetytweety) 7 February 2019
However, the unprecedented regression of the UK as a globally significant player in the arms industry is not the only surprising point documented by the new research. It also finds that Qatar, which has sat "outside the top 20 global markets for defence imports since at least 2009," has now rocketed to eighth place. The report says that this sudden massive acquisition of weapons by Doha is "primarily driven by its political disputes with Saudi Arabia."
Mr Moores also notes that France is due to became the second largest global exporter of arms by 2020.