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UK general confirms secretive Future Force Design Review

The UK Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for Military Capability, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, has confirmed to British lawmakers that the Ministry of Defence was well into conducting a Future Force Design Review (FFDR) to determine the future of the British Armed Forces.

The UK Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for Military Capability, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, has confirmed to British lawmakers that the Ministry of Defence was well into conducting a Future Force Design Review (FFDR) to determine the future of the British Armed Forces.

Amid rising tensions in Europe and across the globe, the United Kingdom has officially launched a Future Force Design Review (FFDR) set to fundamentally reshape the British Armed Forces for the future of conflict in Europe and further abroad.

It is expected that the FFDR will emphasise three key priorities in light of continued budgetary pressures facing the United Kingdom and the challenges facing European and global security as a whole, including:

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  • How Britain fights future conflicts.
  • Any potential restructuring of the British Armed Forces.
  • Alternative “capability choices”.

Speaking to members of the UK parliamentary Defence committee, Lt Gen Rob Magowan detailed that the classified FFDR, currently in its infancy, was expected to be completed in line with the United Kingdom’s own future National Defence Strategy, expected by the end of 2024 or early-2025.

“We’ve got to inform that from a military capability perspective, from an operational design force and capability choice perspective,” Lt Gen Magowan told committee members.

This comes at a time when the UK defence budget faces increasing budgetary pressures, with spending currently around the 2.3 per cent of the British GDP, and no formal commitment by the Sunak government as to when the nation’s defence spending would rise to 2.5 per cent, despite a commitment by the Prime Minister that it would meet this goal.

Importantly, these continued concerns about the UK defence budget and impact on defence capability has long been identified by analysts and US observers in particular, with a senior US general warning the United Kingdom’s former defence secretary Ben Wallace: “Bottom line ... it’s an entire service unable to protect the UK and our allies for a decade.” This was further compounded by a series of concerning details outlined about the state of readiness of the British Armed Forces, namely:

  • The British Armed Forces would run out of ammunition “in a few days” if called upon to fight.
  • The Royal Air Force lacks the ability to defend its skies against the level of missile and drone strikes that Ukraine is enduring.
  • It would take five to 10 years for the Army to be able to field a warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops backed by the required tanks, artillery, and helicopters.
  • Thirty per cent of the UK’s forces on high readiness are reservists who are unable to mobilise within NATO timelines.
  • The majority of the Army’s fleet of armoured vehicles, including tanks, was built between 30 to 60 years ago and full replacements are not due for years.

Adding further fuel to this fire, Lt Gen Magowan told law makers, “We’ve been very clear that the amount of money we’re spending on munitions at the moment does not meet in all areas, the threats that we face.”

Stephen Kuper

Stephen Kuper

Steve has an extensive career across government, defence industry and advocacy, having previously worked for cabinet ministers at both Federal and State levels.

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