The Ministry of Defence has been accused of “gambling with soldiers’ lives” by reducing the money it spends on developing surveillance systems that can detect roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
The cut is part of a significant reduction in the MoD’s research budget.
Next year, the MoD budget for developing new weapons and technology will effectively be cut by almost a quarter, leading to many planned projects being scrapped.
The MoD had originally allocated £544 million to its science innovation and technology budget for 2010/11. Cuts mean that the research budget will be only £439 million.
The MoD has now admitted that among the research being cut is work on “C4ISTAR” systems.
C4ISTAR refers to Command, Control, Communications, Computers – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, a network of planes and unmanned drones that collect images and listen in on enemy forces, information that is fed back to battlefield commanders.
ISTAR can be used to counter the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have killed dozens of British personnel and wounded hundreds more. Some estimates suggest around 80 per cent of British casualties in Afghanistan have come from IEDs.