Defence Secretary: UK In 'Very Real Race For Technological Advantage'

Ben Wallace made the comments as he announced a new strategy aimed at boosting technology and innovation in the UK Armed Forces.

The UK is in a "very real race with our adversaries for technological advantage", the Defence Secretary has warned.

Announcing a new strategy to boost technology in the UK Armed Forces, Ben Wallace said: "Proliferation of new technologies demands our science and technology is threat-driven and better aligned to our needs in the future."

The new programme, called the Science and Technology Strategy, will see innovation placed "at the heart of defence activity for generations", according to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

It will focus on finding and funding breakthroughs that will "shape the future", as well as ensuring the military is equipped to deal with future threats, the MOD added.

Mr Wallace hailed the new strategy as something that will lay the "groundwork for decades to come".

He made the announcement alongside Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean at Salisbury Plain against a backdrop of futuristic autonomous military kit.

The pair had been visiting the Wiltshire training area ahead of the Army Warfighting Experiment this week which will showcase some of the latest British-built military technologies.

For the launch of the strategy, Professor Dame McLean said there needs to be a "clear focus on what we want science and technology to achieve".

WATCH: Laura Makin-Isherwood reports from Salisbury Plain.

Speaking to Forces News, the Defence Secretary said: "Modern technology has brought massive changes to all our lives, including the battlefield.

"That means that what we will have to be doing is looking at embracing modern ISR, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, modern use of digital communication and coordination."

Mr Wallace said this is not only because it makes the UK Armed Forces "more lethal", but because it is also "what our adversaries are doing".

"If we don't do it, then we will be hopelessly outmatched on the battlefield," he said.

He also told Forces News: "It's no good being taught the lesson of being behind the curve on a battlefield when men and women of the British Armed Forces could potentially be killed or injured in large numbers.

"It's my duty and it's our military leaders' duty to be ahead of that curve."

Alongside hardware, the new strategy will also have a renewed focus on data – designed to underpin research to identify threats and deliver military hardware.

Minister for Science Research and Innovation Amanda Solloway said placing science and technology at the centre of defence activity will "unleash a new wave of innovation" for the Armed Forces.

The announcement comes shortly before the results of the Integrated Review – billed by Downing Street as the largest review into British defence, foreign and security policy since the end of the Cold War.

Last month, the Chief of the Defence staff launched the Integrated Operating Concept, a new approach to war fighting, described as the most significant shift in military thought in generations.

Cover image: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace at Salisbury Plain (Picture: MOD).