1. Our Strategic Context

The context in which we operate has changed. The Government’s Integrated Review Refresh 2023 acknowledges that the UK is in a period of heightened risk and volatility. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 brought large-scale, high-intensity land warfare back to Europe, with implications for the UK’s approach to deterrence and defence. China increasingly has the economic, military and technological power to challenge our free and open international system. Digital and information warfare have helped to hinder an outsized aggressor in Ukraine, but new technology brings risks as well as opportunity, and competition at the cutting edge is accelerating. Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change are being felt around the world, from extreme weather events to food shortages, and these are increasing global insecurity. We also face common challenges, shared with our supply chain, which impact our ability to perform, such as high inflation, skills shortages and materials shortages.

Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) and those we work alongside make a fundamental contribution to the protection and prosperity of our nation. In the face of increasing threats we are being asked to do more than ever before. We must take immediate action to meet this demand within our available resources by becoming more productive and delivering greater value to both Defence and the taxpayer. We must also place DE&S in competition with the acquisition systems of our adversaries. By 2025, we must significantly improve the way we operate by reducing duplication, friction in our ways of working and delays in our processes, while driving greater pace and acting with agility, to stay ahead of our adversaries and meet our objectives.

We must urgently reposition DE&S, so we are more able to respond to the evolving threat environment and make our nation a safer place. The way we work, and how we leverage the £13 billion we spend each year with our suppliers, shapes how 148,000 people in the UK defence industry operate and perform. Delivering this strategy is a team effort and a national endeavour. To be at our best, we will work in seamless collaboration with partners across the UK Defence enterprise, including industry, and with our allies overseas, to make our military capabilities ever more effective. Our success and the success of our armed forces will rely on this.

To meet our mission statement, and equip our armed forces with the edge to protect our nation, DE&S must change. This strategy is our commitment to be better.

“The world’s radically changed, as have the threats we face, so we’ve got to change too. We need to get out in front to get ahead of our adversaries today and be ready for tomorrow.”

Andy Start, DE&S CEO and UK National Armaments Director.

DE&S Today

In recent years DE&S has come a long way in its efforts to transform the support it offers to the armed forces and respond to wider government strategic objectives. By introducing new business tools we have shortened delivery timelines, reduced programme time and cost over-runs, and upskilled our people. While significant progress has been made, there are opportunities to go further and optimise our work and the support we give to our armed forces. Against this backdrop, we are committed to becoming better by doing more of what matters.

Vital to this is continuing to ensure that safety and security practise is embedded in all that we do. This includes moving to a culture where everyone feels valued within their team, where everyone’s opinion is heard, and where psychological safety exists throughout our workplace.

In 2021, we set out our DE&S 2025 strategy, which included 25 change actions to drive incremental improvement. We have delivered some of these and many remain important to this strategy, but the speed of our change has been insufficient to match the new threats and huge geopolitical shifts we face. Our focus since 2021 has changed and, as a result of the support we have given to Ukraine, along with other NATO nations, there is a renewed emphasis on having a warfighting capability that matches and outstrips our adversaries. We must maintain battle-ready weapons stocks, and ensure both conventional and complex munition production lines remain ‘always-on’ and equipment is ready for use.

“Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, DE&S – with its defence, industry and NATO partners – has played a critical role in the provision of lethal and non-lethal aid. Everything from boots and sleeping bags to drones and complex weapons. This outstanding effort is proof of how pivotal our people have been in supporting Ukraine’s ongoing fight for their future.”

Maj Gen Anna-Lee Reilly, Director DE&S Operations.

2. Our New Mission

We equip our armed forces with the edge to protect our nation

We deliver safe and secure equipment and provide services to our armed forces when and where they need them. We embrace the advantages that science, technology and digitisation can bring, and use innovative capabilities to give our aviators, sailors, marines and soldiers the edge to deter potential aggressors and defend the UK. We recognise that supporting Defence campaigns is a whole of enterprise endeavour and we will work as part of a One Defence team alongside people from across the Defence enterprise, including all parts of the Ministry of Defence, industry partners and international allies. We make sure every serviceperson in our armed forces is fully equipped, supported and protected, so they can defend our freedoms, liberties and way of life. Providing the right capabilities, both today and tomorrow, to maintain the UK’s safety is at the heart of our mission.

This means getting the right supplies into the hands of a sailor bringing humanitarian aid to a community after a natural disaster. It means helping aircrew maintain aircraft that keep our skies safe, night and day. It means procuring equipment that keeps a soldier alive on operations. This is our mission. It’s why we come together, across all our sites and in our teams. It’s why, of all the places we could work, we choose DE&S.

Our mission gives our people a shared sense of purpose and pride in their roles. It describes the value that DE&S brings for Defence and the UK. It underpins the Defence purpose: to protect the nation and help it prosper.

“By working together over three days our team got nearly 50 tonnes of supplies into the hands of our elite troops, so they could evacuate thousands of UK citizens from a warzone.”

Dave, DE&S Defence Munitions.

3. Our Values

Our values guide how we approach our work and interact with each other. They define what is most important to us, what we strive for in our individual and collective delivery, and the successes we celebrate. Trust is essential to this. We must consistently show these values to our colleagues, partners, clients and stakeholders through our intentions and actions. To be truly values-led, our four DE&S values must live in everything we do.


We are trusted to constantly strive for new and innovative ways to be better, embracing every challenge as an opportunity to improve. Even when something does not pan out, we learn from it. We are proactive in developing ourselves and our teams to provide the best possible service to our armed forces, measuring our success by outcomes, not outputs. We take the right path, not the well-trodden one, to compete with those who work in the procurement agencies of our nation’s adversaries. Surprises do not threaten us because we rely on the strengths of our people to find the right way through.


We are trusted to make sure that every colleague knows they are valued and that they belong at DE&S. We communicate in plain language, not jargon, never assuming prior knowledge. We guard against bias or exclusivity in our words and actions. We champion diversity of thought and perspective by creating space for everyone to use their voice. We listen, not just to respond, but to understand. We are open to learning about, and learning from, different lived experiences, and adapt how we work to embrace the uniqueness of our people.


We are trusted to succeed through shared goals and mutual support. Our range of skills and the breadth and depth of knowledge in our teams is a force to be reckoned with. When we work together, whether between teams or with our partners and allies, we are empowered to deliver more to keep our nation and allies safe. We communicate openly and transparently, wherever possible, to inspire the same passion for the mission in others as we feel ourselves.


We are trusted to do the right thing, even if it is the hard thing. We do this because we know it is right – always speaking up when something feels wrong. We take calculated risks and hold ourselves accountable for the outcome. We are confident in our achievements and own our mistakes, speaking up early and learning from both. We are caring, patient and respectful, offering help when it is needed and giving credit where it is due.

4. Our People

Our people are the key component to successful delivery. We need their continuing commitment and professionalism, and in return we will enrich people’s roles and careers. We are at our best when we combine our different perspectives and skills, so we will work closely with academia, industry and our international partners to become genuinely greater than the sum of our parts. Digital technology, including advanced business tools and the growth of our digitally capable workforce, will continue to be central as we transform the way we support Defence and operate our organisation.
We will communicate a compelling employee value proposition. It will include our visible commitment to inclusion and diversity, driven through the way we operate. Wrapped around all of this is our culture. As we look to the future, we will promote a culture that is underpinned by trust and enables the right behaviours; one that allows us to be comfortable with appropriate risk and ambiguity, drives a One Defence mindset, and fosters authentic leadership.

Whether at an individual or team level, it is everyone’s responsibility to adopt the spirit of this strategy – to embrace the behaviours and to identify and make improvements to the way we work and the system we work in. Together, we will make DE&S, and our part of the Defence system, better month-on-month. We know our organisation best, so the change will be led by us, for us.

“By working with industry and Navy Command we’ve been able to help keep over 150 Royal Navy and NATO warships at sea this year. This means safer seas, a safer UK and, ultimately, a safer world.”

Dominic, DE&S, Devonport.

5. Our Strategy

Unlocking our capacity to increase Defence’s outputs

Our strategy is built upon delivering more of what matters for our armed forces and the UK. To achieve this, our strategy has three strategic outcomes, each with ambitious targets to be achieved by the end of 2025:

1. Delivering the outputs our armed forces need TODAY

  • Supporting UK Defence priorities, including operational support to Ukraine.
  • Increasing the availability and resilience of in-service military platforms and systems, so they can be deployed, safely and securely, wherever and whenever they are needed.
  • Increasing our capacity to more quickly meet our existing promises, including our current commitments on social value and climate change.
  • Harnessing digital technology to improve our business operations and defence outputs, and accelerate and integrate capability.

2. Sharpening Defence’s edge for TOMORROW

  • Outpacing our adversaries with rapid updates to our capabilities and advances in science and technology.
  • Maximising our professional expertise to become an intelligent, market-informed supplier, better able to inform Defence’s upfront decision-making.
  • Modernising our business to become even more skilled in integrating military capability.
  • Playing a leading role in optimising Defence’s future through-life acquisition system.

3. Driving efficiency and competitiveness TOGETHER

  • Significantly increasing Defence’s outputs by working as a true partner to industry, our armed forces, defence colleagues and our allies, as One Defence team.
  • Strengthening the resilience of our industrial supply base, with a particular focus on export success and overcoming shared challenges, including high inflation, skills shortages and materials shortages.
  • Collaboratively driving excellence across Defence by creating a high-trust, values-led environment to face down the threats we can see clearly and those yet to emerge.
  • Focusing on improving international collaboration and enabling secure allied integration to increase our interoperability and our combined deterrent against our adversaries.

We will measure our strategy’s success through the improvements we will deliver for soldiers, sailors, marines and aviators, and the positive engagement of our people and suppliers.

“Lately our quick reaction alert fighters have been in the air 25% more than planned to keep our skies safe. But thanks to the passion and collaboration of teams across the Royal Air Force, DE&S and industry, we’re able to keep our jets operating to face down the threat.”

James, RAF Officer.

What we need to do

Achieving more for Defence and delivering new or enhanced military capabilities at an ever-greater pace to stay ahead of our adversaries requires us to:

  • focus on value-adding activities
  • strive for incremental improvements
  • adapt quickly to changes

Put another way, we need to unlock our capacity to increase Defence’s outputs. We need to be more productive, efficient and reliable to deliver more of what matters to our armed forces.

Unlock our capacity

Reducing systemic waste – with lean, digitally enabled processes which work for our people.

Prioritising our efforts – Deliver more cutting-edge capabilities, while using public money in the smartest way possible.

Growing and better utilising our talent – with the right person, in the right role, at the right time.

Increase Defence outputs

Increasing our pace, agility and quality – to enable sustained availability and resilience.

Strengthening the UK Industrial base – as a more integrated and intelligent partner.

Driving a One Defence mindset – with better partnering to optimise overall military output.

We will commit to our strategic outcomes and deliver our strategy through three tangible actions which drive change:

  1. Prioritised sprints to accelerate internal change
  2. Optimising our operating model to align to our strategy
  3. Collaborating externally to tackle Defence-wide challenges

6. Our Approach

Accelerating internal change

We will simplify and accelerate our internal change programme so we are better able to support our strategic outcomes. Driving positive change will become a priority for our leaders at every level. We will launch a series of change initiatives called ‘sprints’ – high-tempo, focused periods of activity that bring together high-performing, multidisciplinary teams of experts to solve problems and deliver specific outcomes. This agile approach gives our people the opportunity to collaborate and to share their experience where it’s needed most. We expect the sprints to have a huge impact in a short time, delivering value adding work and benefits at pace.

We will prioritise the focus of our sprints by carefully choosing which are the most important to achieving our strategic outcomes. The remaining change initiatives will form our change ‘backlog’. As sprint outcomes are reached, the next highest priority initiative will become the next sprint in the cycle.

What we need to do

Achieving more for Defence and delivering new or enhanced military capabilities at an ever-greater pace to stay ahead of our adversaries requires us to:

  • focus on value-adding activities
  • strive for incremental improvements
  • adapt quickly to changes

Put another way, we need to unlock our capacity to increase Defence’s outputs. We need to be more productive, efficient and reliable to deliver more of what matters to our armed forces.

We will commit to our strategic outcomes and deliver our strategy through three tangible actions which drive change:

  1. Prioritised sprints to accelerate internal change
  2. Optimising our operating model to align to our strategy
  3. Collaborating externally to tackle Defence-wide challenges

Our strategic principles

In enacting our strategy, we will make changes that matter to us all – changes that make a difference to everyone across Defence. To support this will we adopt the following principles:

  • We must do more of what matters for Defence, and embrace change where there’s an advantage for our armed forces.
  • We will work where we are most needed and take responsibility for our own professional development.
  • We must be outcomes focussed and guided by our people; “By Us, For Us”.
  • We will create multidisciplinary teams to deliver the most valuable work, empowering our people to make the right decisions at the right level and at the right time.
  • We must work collaboratively to identify the right delivery framework to deliver performance and solutions at pace.
  • We must remove impediments which slow us down and become comfortable with “good enough”.
  • We must foster trust through transparency; being open about the good and the bad, no matter how challenging.
  • We must appreciate and respect people’s time, following agreed processes to avoid nugatory work.

Tackling Defence-wide challenges

Due to the size and complexity of Defence, many of the issues impacting DE&S sit outside our immediate control. To resolve these complicated cross-cutting issues we must work proactively as One Defence and promote a wider Defence climate which is open to change. We will work as One Defence to share and prioritise our enterprise-level issues and ideas. And we will look to our most senior leaders to create and influence the effective conditions for accelerated change and delivery.

We will ensure our operating model remains aligned to changes in the Defence operating model and where DE&S is best placed to lead on behalf of Defence, we will do so. We will create capability centres, including for battlespace integration, defence availability and digital engineering to bring the associated challenges and opportunities to life through the visualisation of integrated information and data.

“We are at our best when military and civilian voices come together, combining our different perspectives and skills, and becoming genuinely greater than the sum of our parts.”

David Williams, MOD Permanent Secretary.

Optimising our operating model

Our operating model describes the way we operate by bringing together our strategy, structures, processes, our values, and the skills we have and need. We need to move DE&S’ operating model forwards and modernise how we work to better reflect our new strategy, meet our strategic outcomes and be fully prepared for future threats to the UK.

We will create a DE&S that supports the whole of Defence to create strategic advantage and stay ahead of adversaries by aligning our organisation to succeed through ‘operational excellence’. Operational excellence means delivering consistency, being reliable and providing a standardised stakeholder experience. We will have an operating model where people follow a process. One that is repeatable, consistent and efficient and this will lead to a safer organisation than we have today. DE&S will add value by being the most dependable defence delivery organisation in the world which operates truly end-to-end by-design; exploiting and integrating the best of industry, international allies, the armed forces and other stakeholders.

Operational excellence means focusing our efforts

What we will do

  • Have clear and standardised routes for stakeholders to engage with DE&S
  • Consistently and reliably meet our commitments
  • Consistently deliver good-quality outcomes throughout – with appropriately categorised standards, not just fixated on cost
  • Commit to a culture of continuous learning and improvement
  • Provide effective and safe assurance of teams and outcomes, in line with regulations

What we won’t do

  • Tolerate unnecessary variability and nonconformity to standard process
  • ‘Over mark’ industry work
  • Set or own military capability requirements
  • Burden ourselves with non-value adding work (as seen by our armed forces)
  • Accept tasking without full transparency of costs and balance of priorities – and in return we will be transparent

7. Our Future

In partnership with our armed forces, we will ensure operational delivery – the logistics and support that we provide to our in-service capabilities – is at the core of what we do. We will design the ‘support solution’ that is best for Defence, and not just for specific equipment or military platforms. As part of operational delivery, we will adopt innovative commercial models to exploit industry innovations and pull through existing and emerging technology. We will increase the availability of existing equipment and work collaboratively to ensure it is ready for use, whenever and wherever it is needed. We will use digital analytics and artificial intelligence to help make more informed decisions and improve availability. We will employ new manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, to reduce repair cycles.

Either by supporting others or being supported by others, we will deliver a range of products and services that support operational excellence.

Supporting others

We will provide market intelligence and requirement advice to our armed forces by closely partnering with industry and other parts of Defence, such as DSTL, to know what equipment and technology is available in the market, what is emerging, and what could inform or meet capability requirements. We will be the market experts in the capabilities we provide to the armed forces. To underpin this, we will exploit research and development (R&D) and support service and equipment development when linked to Defence priorities. We will do this by identifying technology deficiencies and platform gaps and commissioning rapid prototyping development.

To create an increased deterrent, the UK must play a more pivotal role in international collaboration and become more fully integrated with our allies. We will support Defence by being allied by design and national by exception. We will take advantage of opportunities for collaborative programmes and develop knowledge of our international partners’ capabilities, particularly our NATO allies, to ensure our allies can integrate operationally and digitally with our armed forces.

Supported by others

With our strong links to industry, we are uniquely placed in Defence to be able to deliver integrated equipment and services through systems design and the use of modelling capabilities. We will work in new ways with the UK defence industry to drive industry performance and strengthen the resilience of the defence industrial base, on which the availability, capability and quantity of our defence systems and equipment depend. By using digital tools, such as digital twins and artificial intelligence, we will help create capability and capacity across the UK defence industrial base to dramatically reduce the time needed to introduce complex new platforms. We will generate market-facing technical requirements by turning the armed forces capability requirements into contracts that will allow DE&S to hold industry to account.

More about Defence Equipment & Support

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Who we are

Part of the Ministry of Defence, we’re a mix of 12,500 talented civil servants and military personnel located across the UK and abroad.

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What we do

Delivering a programme of work of over £13bn annually, we ensure the UK Armed Forces have all the equipment and support they need for their operations.

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Work for us

Join us in specialisms from engineering to project management to commercial – take your first step to a more rewarding career with DE&S.

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