* Defence industry calls for government support
* Comments come ahead of election, planned defence review
By Rhys Jones
LONDON, Sept 1 Budget cuts could damage
Britain's armed forces and investing in the defence industry
could help lead Britain out of recession, leading figures from
the UK's armaments sector said on Tuesday.
"The defence industry requires support and leadership from
political leaders and we are looking for future governments to
take that forward," Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems
(BAES.L), told reporters. "Unless it is adequately funded it
will cause problems for Ministry of Defence (MoD) forces."
His comments came as trade body the Defence Industries
Council (DIC) published reports on the economic contribution the
defence industry makes to the UK and the support it gives to the
UK's armed forces.
The DIC remarks were seen as a warning shot to political
parties not to cut an annual defence budget of around 36 billion
pounds ($58.8 billion).
Spending will come under the microscope next year when
Britain conducts its first strategic defence review in more than
a decade. The review is expected to be held early in the next
A general election is due by June 2010 and the issue of how
to cut a record budget deficit will be one of the central
Britain has some 9,000 troops in Afghanistan and critics say
a lack of helicopters makes them particularly vulnerable to
roadside bombs. Two hundred and ten British service personnel
have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.
Britain's defence industry, which gets around 75 percent of
its revenue from the MoD, needs more investment, not less,
according to DIC Chairman Mike Turner.
"There are huge economic benefits created by the wealth the
industry generates. I'd like to see 2 billion pounds extra for
the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS)," said Turner.
The DIC said the industry, which employs 300,000 in Britain,
generated an annual turnover of 35 billion pounds last year.
"The defence sector can help lead us out of recession," said
Martin Fausset, managing director of Rolls-Royce Group Plc's
(RR.L) defence and aerospace business.
"We are creating and sustaining jobs and building the UK
skill base. For every 100 million pounds invested, the industry
produces 227 million pounds in output for the UK."
(Editing by David Holmes)