As the UK enters the third decade of the 21st century, it is confronted by a strategic system in flux. This is particularly highlighted by the resurgence of great power rivalry, the renewed Russian threat to regional and international security, the shifting global balance of power from the Euro-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific, the rise of China as a global power, regional instability in the Middle East, and wider geopolitical shifts. This is compounded by the Trump Administration’s approach to foreign policy, particularly it’s attitude towards arms control and reported interest in resuming nuclear testing, and the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is likely that defence budgets will come under intense pressure due to the economic impact of the pandemic, however, given the deteriorating geopolitical environment, significant defence cuts may only serve to embolden potential adversaries seeking to change local or, indeed, the international status quo. Moreover, the UK itself is at a critical strategic juncture with the opportunities inherent in its withdrawal from the European Union. Ahead of the forthcoming Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review, discussion of the UK’s strategic priorities and balance of capabilities is warranted. In this regard, this article considers whether the UK should invest in a more substantial long-range strike capability, namely some form of bomber.