Defence Spending in NATO, How we Compare

#1
Some interesting figures from NATO on defence spending

The graphs are from data presented in a NATO report on defence spending and other data. I have taken out the USA because they distort the graphs. The report states that they are based on a NATO standard method rather than taking figures directly from the country so might be different from what is published by the various governments. The report has actuals going back years and makes an estimate for 2007, those figures are the ones in graph

Interesting to note that we come top of the shop for actual amount spent, but joint fourth (with Bulgaria) on percent of GDP. It also shows we are fifth in terms of service personnel numbers.

Probably the most interesting comparison is with France as we are both similar in GDP, strategic stance, UN Security Council etc. They spend similar in money and % GDP but can maintain a mucher larger force for that and it could be argued that they have similar quality weapons etc.

Percent of GDP is often used as a benchmark with which to base arguments for more spending but is this a flawed metric?







 
#3
I am not really saying anything its just interesting to see how we stack up against France in particular who are very similar but can maintain a much larger force on pretty much the same money. They also support their own defence industry as we do.

Also interesting to look at % of GDP as a metric on which to base spending
 
#4
meridian said:
Probably the most interesting comparison is with France as we are both similar in GDP, strategic stance, UN Security Council etc. They spend similar in money and % GDP but can maintain a mucher larger force for that and it could be argued that they have similar quality weapons etc.
The Gendarmerie are part of the French military, so skew things somewhat.
The UK is one of few nations whose defence statistics are limited to three expeditionary warfare services.
 
#6
meridian said:
I am not really saying anything its just interesting to see how we stack up against France in particular who are very similar but can maintain a much larger force on pretty much the same money. They also support their own defence industry as we do.

Also interesting to look at % of GDP as a metric on which to base spending
I do wonder how these things work: France has a completely independent nuclear deterrent - the missiles are 100% French AFAIK and all their aircraft are too, but we have to collaberate with others for the same thing.
 
#8
mac1 said:
meridian said:
I am not really saying anything its just interesting to see how we stack up against France in particular who are very similar but can maintain a much larger force on pretty much the same money. They also support their own defence industry as we do.

Also interesting to look at % of GDP as a metric on which to base spending
I do wonder how these things work: France has a completely independent nuclear deterrent - the missiles are 100% French AFAIK and all their aircraft are too, but we have to collaberate with others for the same thing.


Yep, we're about to pay the US a fair few billion to get the Trident replacement, and of course we also give the US what they want as well, a European nuclear outpost between them and Russia!
 
#9
If you take out the 100,000 Gendarmerie (which also provides military police functions for the French military) they still maintain a serious numerical advantage though
 
#10
IIRC French figures do not include Pension payments, Government pensions are collected and distributed centrally. Our defence budget includes pensions. So it could be argued the French spend more, as their figure is wages, hardware (incl R&D) and infrastructure only.
 
#11
mac1 said:
I do wonder how these things work: France has a completely independent nuclear deterrent - the missiles are 100% French AFAIK and all their aircraft are too, but we have to collaberate with others for the same thing.
The only part of our nuclear deterrent we collaborate with others for is the missile body. All the other important parts, including the instant sunshine, are British.
In the quantities we have it would cost squillions to develop something with the capability of the D5. Developing a system with the US was the only sensible choice.
Our missiles have a range of around 12,000km, the French have a range of around 6,000km. I'd rather have our superior collaboration than the French second division effort.
 
#12
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Just re read the foreward of the report in which it states that pensions are included in the figures. It uses a NATO standard defnition which I think is meant to even out those kinds of variance although it states that France, Italy and Luxembourg are not quite fully compliant with this standardised definition.

To quote

"Expenditures for research and development are included in equipment expenditures and pensions paid to retirees in personnel expenditures"
 
#13
meridian said:
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Just re read the foreward of the report in which it states that pensions are included in the figures. It uses a NATO standard defnition which I think is meant to even out those kinds of variance although it states that France, Italy and Luxembourg are not quite fully compliant with this standardised definition.

To quote

"Expenditures for research and development are included in equipment expenditures and pensions paid to retirees in personnel expenditures"
Sounds right, it makes the defence budget look smaller than it is, problem is the French a very good at finding Govt jobs for ex-forces, making it hard to work out which proportion of pension payments are for what.
 
#14
One of the questions raised is

Is Percent of GDP a meaningful way to gauge required spending. Everyone always bangs on about this, the Tories, UKNDA, the media etc but when we spend the same as a percentage of our GDP as Bulgaria, not much more than Poland but much less than Greece surely we should be looking at real pound notes.

Work out what we want to do with the services and fund to the appropriate cash amount.

Percent of GDP is complete nonsense I think
 
#15
ottar said:
mac1 said:
I do wonder how these things work: France has a completely independent nuclear deterrent - the missiles are 100% French AFAIK and all their aircraft are too, but we have to collaberate with others for the same thing.
The only part of our nuclear deterrent we collaborate with others for is the missile body. All the other important parts, including the instant sunshine, are British.
In the quantities we have it would cost squillions to develop something with the capability of the D5. Developing a system with the US was the only sensible choice.
Our missiles have a range of around 12,000km, the French have a range of around 6,000km. I'd rather have our superior collaboration than the French second division effort.
Not so. The UK's warheads are almost an exact copy of the US w76 design and rely on the US for certain key components/ We're also utterly dependent on the US for many other aspects of our so-called 'independent' deterrant. The French effort may be 'second division', but at least no other country can arbitarily decide to take their ball away!
 
#16
meridian said:
One of the questions raised is

Is Percent of GDP a meaningful way to gauge required spending. Everyone always bangs on about this, the Tories, UKNDA, the media etc but when we spend the same as a percentage of our GDP as Bulgaria, not much more than Poland but much less than Greece surely we should be looking at real pound notes.

Work out what we want to do with the services and fund to the appropriate cash amount.

Percent of GDP is complete nonsense I think
I disagree. % of GDP is a good way of tracking how much of the nation's wealth is distributed to the military over the years.

In that sense it is a better gauge than talking pure dollars (or pounds). After all, an increase of 100 million per year looks impressive until one sees how little of the nation's increasing wealth is being invested in the military.
 
#17
But the pensions and wages thing - remember we have been all volunteer for a long time now - so we have a bigger pension legacy. Hence the rush to get rid of AFPS 75. A large proportion of our Defence Budget is swallowed up by pay and pensions no matter how much we may think to the contrary.
 
#18
Probably the most interesting comparison is with France as we are both similar in GDP, strategic stance, UN Security Council etc. They spend similar in money and % GDP but can maintain a mucher larger force for that and it could be argued that they have similar quality weapons etc.
Now be careful comparing the British with the French, it can lead to a bloody nose, or a night in a cupboard with MDN.
 
#19
Well just to add a bit, maybe the RN has the right idea with their new MARS refuelling ship programme, one of the favorites to win it, is a South Korean company who'll build the ships outside the UK to keep cost down....unfortunate as that is, maybe it is the only way.
 
#20
Hello petergriffen,

money we save on the fleet oilers in that way may cost us more in other ways.
We need a large ship building infrastructure to built the carriers,if we don't use it to build other things then the costs of the carrier project goes up.

For example,there was a recent announcement about £35 Million being spent on the construction of docks.
That works out at £17.5 Million extra per ship on that item alone if we only build two vessels to use it.
If we used the same facility to build all thirty or so large ships for the Navy and Fleet Auxiliary,the cost is spread over the whole fleet.
Thus we cut the unit cost of each carrier by about £16 Million.

Apply the same logic to all the other expenses associated with building ships (and other things) and it is not difficult to imagine the savings which could be made.

On the other hand,doesn't that add £1 Million or so to the cost of the replenishment vessels?
Not really,if we had them built elsewhere,the cost of maintaining their infrastructure would be included in the price anyway,though,the more ships they use it to build,the lower the overheads.

But surely we could still not compete with Korean prices?
Commercial companies choose their ship builders on the basis of cost.
Yet Emma Maersk,the world's largest container ship was recently built in Denmark.
Queen Mary two was built in France.
Norway,Finland,Italy,Germany and Norway also have thriving commercial ship building industries able to compete with Japan and Korea.
Even here we have a successful yacht building industry making vessels as big as some of Her Majesty's Ships.

Why can't we have a viable ship building industry?
Like the aviation industry,the automotive industry and others,the ship building industry has never recovered from nationalisation.
Having lost it's lead in the commercial world during that time it became dependent on Naval orders.
Thus subject to uncertain defence spending plans the whims of politicians trying to secure their majorities.
The current government attempts at industrial rationalisation are reminiscent of what happened to the aviation industry before it was nationalised.
Lessons have not been learnt.

The key to fixing the problem is getting more ships from less infrastructure.
That can be achieved with a continuous flow orders for more ships of fewer classes to be built in the same yard.

Constant tampering with ship building plans to overcome the annual budget deficits coupled with politically driven contract awards are the reasons why things are the way they are today in the ship building industry.

tangosix.
 

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