LONDON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Britain's Defense Ministry has announced multimillion-dollar investments for armored vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicle development.
Combined, the two programs are worth about $690 million.
The first program, worth $627 million, is for procurement of additional armored vehicles offering protection from improvised explosive devices.
About 100 Foxhound protected patrol vehicles will be produced by Force Protection Europe and will be used by British troops fighting insurgents in Afghanistan.
The Foxhound was designed, developed and built by FPE and Ricardo Plc.
"Success in Afghanistan is our No. 1 priority and protecting our forces from (improvised explosive devices) is our most urgent challenge," said British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.
"Foxhound is designed, developed and built in the U.K. and this announcement demonstrates the government's commitment to providing our troops with world-class protective equipment.
"The vehicle will provide our armed forces with a highly protected and agile vehicle, and its manufacture in this country will create and sustain jobs across the U.K."
Britain had earlier ordered 200 Foxhound protected patrol vehicles from Force Protection Europe and they will be ready for deployment to Afghanistan next year.
Hammond said half of the money allocated for the program would be used for advanced counter-IED technology.
"The C-IED package is another major step forward in the battle against the bombers, using cutting-edge technology to defeat their evil campaign and protect our troops," he said.
Hammond, however, didn't elaborate on the technology envisioned.
The second major program involves a four-year Future Combat Air System award to BAE Systems to sustain and develop British UAV technology.
UAV's are used in Afghanistan and elsewhere by Britain and other nations mainly for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. In addition to ISR, the United States is using them in Afghanistan in a strike role.
"I am committed to providing sustained support for science and technology across all aspects of Defense," said Minister for Defense Equipment Support and Technology Peter Luff. "As part of our ongoing investment, the Ministry of Defense has and will continue to invest in aerospace sector projects like this to ensure that we develop and maintain the U.K.'s formidable strengths in this specialist field."
Added Nick Joad, head of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory's Air Domain: "This is an important step in ensuring that the (Ministry of Defense) continues to develop its capabilities in this area and is able to exploit potentially game-changing technologies.
"We have worked very hard with BAE Systems to ensure that we have a high-impact program and look forward to seeing the fruits of this investment of both money and intellectual capital."