This is according to figures published by Make UK in association with Raytheon UK.
According to the data, the two sectors as well as shipping and rail sectors account for over £12 billion in manufacturing output – almost 5% of total manufacturing – and support 207,000 jobs directly and indirectly.
Many of the companies in these sectors and their supply chains, 97% of whom are SMEs, are based in the North West, North East, and Scotland – areas critical to regional growth and levelling up the economy.
As well as investing in high-value skills the defence, aerospace, shipping & rail sectors are major investors in R&D, accounting for 21% of all manufacturing R&D. The UK also had the 2nd highest Government budget allocation for defence R&D amongst NATO countries, worth over $2 billion.
The defence and aerospace sectors in particular are also substantial contributors to the UK’s export performance. The UK is the second largest global defence exporter after the US, while the UK accounts for 16% of the global defence export market.
The UK has the third highest sales of equipment, a figure set to rise as governments around the world increase spending in areas such as cyber security and wider defence.
Commenting, Andrew Kinniburgh, director of Make UK Defence, commented: “The defence, aerospace, shipbuilding and rail industries are the cornerstone of advanced, high-value manufacturing in the UK. Competing in some of the most highly-skilled technologies and market around the world, together with their supply chains they will be critical to the future success of our economy as we recover.
“The sheer complexity and length of development for major defence equipment programmes and their longevity in service can literally span generations of engineers.
Jeff Lewis, chief executive of Raytheon UK added: “Today’s report illustrates how vital the Defence, Aerospace, Shipping and Rail sectors are to the UK, providing high value skilled jobs and economic growth across the nation. We are pleased to partner with Make UK on this report , which highlights the potential of the United Kingdom and our sectors, we look forward to continuing as one of the key manufacturers contributing to the UK’s bright future.”