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Russia would outgun Britain in a tank fight after UK’s years of materiel neglect

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Britain would be outgunned by Russia in a tank fight after years of neglect have left the UK force underprepared.

The Defence Committee said a face-off between a modern British and Russian division would likely “end one way – and not necessarily to the British Army’s advantage”.

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The committee said a series of bungled procurement programmes over years have left the Army with an armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) fleet facing “mass obsolescence”.

The report – “Obsolescent and outgunned” – said:

“It is alarming that for at least the next several years, UK armoured forces may find themselves overmatched by their most challenging peer adversary.

“Were the British Army to have to fight a peer adversary – a euphemism for Russia – in eastern Europe in the next few years, whilst our soldiers would undoubtedly remain amongst the finest in the world, they would, disgracefully, be forced to go into battle in a combination of obsolescent or even obsolete armoured vehicles, most of them at least 30 years old or more, with poor mechanical reliability, very heavily outgunned by more modern missile and artillery systems and chronically lacking in adequate air defence.”

Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has allowed the Army’s armoured fighting vehicles capability “to atrophy at an astounding and alarming rate”.

He added: “A mixture of bureaucratic procrastination, military indecision, financial mismanagement and general ineptitude has led to a severe and sustained erosion of our military capabilities.

“This will have a profound and potentially devastating impact on our ability to respond to threats from adversaries.”

An MoD spokesman said:

“We thank the Defence Committee for their report and acknowledge their recommendations as we look to improve the management of our large and complex equipment programmes.

“Aided by the substantial £24 billion settlement for Defence, the Integrated Review will provide resources to deliver an upgraded, digitised and networked armoured force to meet future threats.”

 

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