In March 2021 the Government published three documents that set out, in turn, its vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade, Defence’s contribution to this vision, and a new strategic approach to the UK’s defence and security industrial sectors.

The second of these documents – the Defence Command Paper: Defence in a Competitive Age – sets out plans to spend £188 billion on defence over the next four years. Included in this spending are affirmations of existing equipment programmes and investment in new and emerging technologies for the UK armed forces.

However, the Command Paper, like defence reviews before it, also identifies current equipment and capabilities that are to be withdrawn from service earlier than expected. These include:

  • Some Challenger main battle tanks
  • Warrior infantry fighting vehicles
  • Two frigates
  • Mine counter-measure vessels
  • Tranche 1 Typhoon combat aircraft
  • Hercules transport aircraft
  • E-3D Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft
  • Some Chinook helicopters
  • Puma helicopters

The Command Paper reverses some of the decisions of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review to extend the life of some capabilities listed above.

This paper discusses the capabilities that are to be cut and what this means. It complements Library paper Integrated Review 2021: emerging defence technologies, which explores plans for new investment in cyber, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, space and directed energy weapons.

It is part of a series of Commons Library papers on the Integrated Review, the Defence Command Paper and the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy, which can be found on the House of Commons Library website under: Integrated Review 2021. These include:

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