U.K. Plans to Invest Billions in Military Drone Strategy

The new acquisition approach builds upon lessons learned in the ongoing war in Ukraine, British defense officials said.

The U.K. will invest 4.5 billion pounds ($5.7 billion) to rapidly deliver advanced uncrewed systems across its armed forces over the next decade, the British Ministry of Defense announced.

The new defense drone strategy is focused on enabling rapid experimentation, testing, and evaluation of new platforms, while integrating the approaches of how to utilize the systems by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and British Army under the U.K. Strategic Command, the ministry said.

According to ministry officials, it’s an approach that stems from lessons learned in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

“The conflict in Ukraine has been an incubator for new ways of war, and we need to learn and implement those hard-fought lessons,” James Cartlidge, U.K. minister for defense procurement, said Thursday. “Rapidly being able to develop and upgrade uncrewed systems will be key to gaining battlefield advantage, and we must seize this opportunity to grow and sustain such skills and capabilities in the U.K.”

Under the strategy, uncrewed systems will be delivered to the British Armed Forces at pace, cutting out long development timelines, the ministry said.

This year, the U.K. has pledged more than 200 million pounds ($254 million) to supply Ukraine with uncrewed systems as part of its larger 2.5 billion pound ($3.2 billion) aid package for the country. Last week, the U.K. and Latvia announced a new international coalition that will send thousands of drones into Ukraine. 

As part of the international collaboration benefitting Ukraine, the U.K. will scale up and streamline provision of first-person view (FPV) drones that have been credited as highly effective in providing situational awareness to operators in targeting enemy positions.

“The frontlines of Ukraine have taught us that drones are transforming warfare,” U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We will make sure the U.K. gains a strategic advantage against our enemies, with a new plan launched today to rapidly get our Armed Forces the drones they need to fight & win on the modern battlefield.”


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