Ministry of Defence procurement spending in Northern Ireland hit £190M in 2023

Engineers at the Thales Belfast factory where the assembly of NLAW weapons takes place Credit: PA

Spending by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in Northern Ireland has risen by 20% to £190m.

Procurement spend in the region rose by £31 million in 2023 to the highest level in a decade.

The majority of the increase relates to a major contract for Belfast-made anti-tank weapons used to support Ukraine’s defence against Russia.

The Next Generation Anti-Tank Weapons System (NLAW) missile system is manufactured in Belfast by Thales.

The supply of NLAW missiles makes up part of the 10,000 anti-tank weapons the United Kingdom has supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Engineers at the Thales Belfast factory assembly line where the final assembly of the NLAW takes place Credit: PA

The £233 million four-year manufacturing contract between the MOD and Thales was awarded in December 2022.

An average of £100 is being spent on the defence industry for each person living in Northern Ireland.

600 jobs are supported through the MOD’s expenditure with the local defence industry.

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “As threats increase across the globe, it’s crucial that investment in our Armed Forces matches that picture.

“That’s why we’re spending more than £50 billion annually on helping equip our military with cutting-edge capabilities, so they can continue to protect our freedoms around the clock.

“These statistics demonstrate how Northern Ireland is playing a key role in that crucial work, delivering through our fantastic defence industry and boosting local prosperity.

”The statistics highlight the government’s commitment to continually improving the defence sector, while supporting the economy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.

Despite the increase, Northern Ireland is still the region of the UK with the lowest defence procurement spending.

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