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15 Jan 11. The British Army is set to lose its ability to fight large scale tanks battles under radical plans being drawn up to slash its fleet of armoured vehicles. The proposals have led senior officers to question whether it is “a risk too far” to axe more than 3,000 vehicles as part of government enforced cuts under the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The proposed cuts mean that the country which invented the tank has signalled it is to surrender almost a century’s experience of fighting armoured warfare. The move also means that the Ministry of Defence will once again throw away billions of pounds in equipment after flushing away £3.6bn on the new Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft along with millions on axing aircraft carriers and Harrier jets. Under the plans the 400 strong fleet of Challenger 2 main battle tanks, that played a key role throughout the Iraq campaign, could be reduced to as little as little as 50 tanks, enough to equip just one regiment. Within the next 18 months 1,400 armoured personnel carriers along with 1,200 CVR(T) light tanks will be sold off or scrapped. Hundreds of Warriors are to be put in storage with the force reduced from 800 to a maximum of 270 vehicles that will be upgraded in £800m programme. Senior officers admit that the move means the Army is gambling it will not have to fight armoured operations outside of Afghanistan for at least the next five years.
“This does mean that our early entry capability is completely denuded,” an officer involved in the planning told The Daily Telegraph.
After the 2015 exit from Helmand they hope that the government will provide the cash to reconstitute its armour by agreeing to the estimated £5bn vital FRES programme that will produce about 2,000 advanced combat vehicles. The Army is also being forced to shed its mine protected vehicles that have saved countless lives after being introduced as Urgent Operational Requirements for Iraq and Afghanistan. Although it will cause consternation in the Treasury, which has stumped up almost £2bn for the vehicles, the Army is not expected to include the 300 Mastiff, 177 Ridgeback and around 100 Warthogs in its core equipment programme meaning they will be axed. The final touches to the plans are being made at Headquarters Land Forces in Andover in Hampshire and the MoD’s Equipment Capability branch as part of a £5bn savings package over the next five years. The proposals will be put to ministers at the end of this month
The cuts will mean that 34 out of the Army’s 36 infantry battalions will be in what is known as the “light role” without armour protection.
Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, criticised the “risks” being taken on defence. “This cull of armoured vehicles is a not-so-calculated risk by Government which ends our ability to take part in armoured operations elsewhere. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
BATTLESPACE Comment: This feature suggests that the Warrior WCSP programme may be limited to 280 vehicles which makes more sense. However it does not make sense to store the other Warriors and replace them with a similar vehicle ASCOD at huge cost. The decision not to bring the MRAP vehicles i