It comes after the Times claimed defence officials were proposing to take all of the UK’s tanks out of service and put them into storage – only to be taken out in a time of crisis. The move is being considered as the cost of upgrading Britain’s 227 Challenger 2 tanks and 388 Warrior armoured vehicles would be extremely expensive.
Former Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt last year called the army’s aging fleet of tanks and armoured vehicles “obsolete” because they had not been upgraded in 20 years.
Instead of doing so, officials say funds could be diverted to other areas of defence such as aviation and cybersecurity.
However, General Lord Dannatt, former chief of general staff, has criticised the alleged proposals.
He said the idea that tanks could be taken out of storage if they were suddenly needed “doesn’t work like that.”
He told the Times: “The capability involves personnel, training and interaction with attack aviation, artillery, armoured infantry vehicles, air support.
“These all come together and require a lot of training and experience.”
He also said Russia had built up its own heavy forces, adding this was another reason to avoid cutting Britain’s.
Tobias Ellwood also spoke out against the plans, saying he was “horrified” by the idea a Conservative government would cut the UK’s defence budget.
He argued there would be a “severe risk” in upgrading existing heavy fleets “at the expensive of modernisation”.
Dr Watling said the Army could “begin to fall behind emerging critical capabilities, from autonomous systems to long-range precision fires.”
As part of the proposals, discussions are being held with British allies to invest more in electronic warfare and close down an Army heavy armour training base in Canada.
The discussions around scrapping the UK’s tank fleet are part of a review into foreign policy and defence.
In 2019, the Ministry of Defence spent £38 billion, with £15.9 billion of that allocated to ‘Defence Equipment and Support.’
Between 2019 and 2029, the MoD has said it plans to spend £24 billion on IT systems alone, and a further £5.7 billion on intelligence and surveillance.
Land equipment, by contrast, is due to receive £19.5 billion in the same time span.
Submarines will by far get the biggest amount of funding though, at £46.7 billion.