Government spending on defence research has been cut by Pounds 7 million this financial year - prompting concerns that the UK may not be able to keep up with its allies when it comes to developing new defence technologies.
The drop in the Ministry of Defence's research budgets for its major customers, from Pounds 460 million in 1998-99 to a planned Pounds 453 million in 1999-2000, comes on top of a Pounds 13 million cut to research spending at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food over the next three years.
Research appeared to be a big winner in last year's comprehensive spending review with a Pounds 700 million boost to the science budget. But concerns are now being raised that research outside the dual-support system may not have done so well.
Peter Cotgreave, director of Save British Science, said: "I believe the rumours that research may have lost out are now so strong that we have to take them very seriously."