April 13, 2024

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Realising the promise of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy in R&D and exports

The UK’s Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) published in March 2021 marked a meaningful shift in the UK’s defence industrial policy. The new strategy dispensed with several core principles for defence acquisition that had been the backbone of UK defence industrial policy over much of the last decade, principally the ‘competition by default’ from the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and the 2012 National Security Through Technology White Paper.

Instead, the DSIS represented a real effort to bring defence acquisition in line with wider UK defence policy by incorporating key concepts from the cross-government Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. Prominent examples include the language of achieving ‘strategic advantage through science and technology’ (S&T), as well as an emphasis on promoting prosperity and wider social value. Importantly, the DSIS also recognised the defence sector as a strategic capability in its own right.

This Perspective provides a brief overview of the core principles of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) published in March 2021, before reflecting in more detail on two aspects underpinning the Strategy’s assumptions: research and development (R&D) and exports. This commentary draws on a body of RAND Europe research on the UK defence industrial base, R&D and technology and provides the authors’ reflective perspective on areas of emerging challenges for DSIS implementation.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Europe.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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