Boris Johnson is to unveil what is being billed as the biggest programme of investment in Britain’s armed forces since the end of the Cold War.
The prime minister will set out a four-year financial deal for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to “transform” the military, developing cutting-edge capabilities in the future battlefields of cyber and space.
It will include the creation of an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence, and a “space command” capable of launching the UK’s first rocket by 2022.
The plan – to be announced in the Commons on Thursday – will see the MoD get an additional £16.5 billion over and above the government’s manifesto commitment to a 0.5% real terms increase for each year of the Parliament.
The move will come as a relief for military chiefs who have been pressing for a multi-year settlement to enable them to plan effectively for the future.
It is thought their demands were being resisted by the Treasury, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak holding out for a one-year deal – along with the rest of Whitehall – in next week’s spending review.
Mr Johnson said the settlement reflected the need to upgrade Britain’s military capabilities “across the board” amid an international situation “more perilous” than at any time since the Cold War.