The Government have refused to confirm or deny claims that a decision has been made to reduce the number of tanks in the British Army.

Andrew Rosindell, Member of Parliament for Romford, asked in a written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department plans to reduce the number of tanks.”

Refusing to answer directly, Stuart Andrew (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State), responded citing a previous response which is displayed below:

“The Challenger 2 remains a key capability for the Armed Forces as the British Army’s main battle tank. The Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme will provide a suite of capability upgrades and substantially extend its service life. The planned upgrade is currently undergoing an extended assessment phase, which is expected to conclude in 2020. No final decisions have been made on the numbers, which will be informed by the assessment phase, Defence requirements, and balance of investment considerations.”

This comes after a report in The Times, the MoD intends to upgrade only 148 of its 227 Challenger 2 tanks. The report suggested that the British Army is expected to use the remainder of the Challenger 2 vehicles for spare parts.

An MoD spokesperson said:

“We are committed to significantly upgrading our Challenger 2 tanks, ensuring we have the best weaponry and armour. These upgrades will provide the British Army with lethal warfighting capabilities out to 2040. The investment in the Challenger 2 upgrade is part of our £18.4bn land equipment programme. No final decision on the number of tanks to be upgraded has been made.”

While I am in not in anyway an expert on the required numbers and many people would no doubt argue opposite positions on this I do believe that the above responses can be taken as a ‘yes’ to the original question.

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T.S
Guest

All whilst many other nations who spend far less operate sometimes in the thousands. We don’t need that many but surely, surely we should operate 3-400 comfortably?

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Exactly, tanks are not immensely expensive, we’re not talking about F35s.

Cam
Guest
Cam

I would have more challys and less Ajax! We need enough challys and Ajax but we’re going to have far more Ajax.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Well yes, because the Ajax family is replacing most of the CVRT family of vehicles – Scimitar, Spartan, Samson, Sultan, of which we have many more than we have Tanks.

We need enough Ajax Scout to provide for 4 Recc Regiments worth in the RAC and also Recc platoons in 2 Armoured Regiments and 6 Warrior Battalions.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

It’s vital Ajax gets into service asap. As for Challenger 2 LEP, the full fleet should be upgraded, but that would only be 220 or so. As for only applying the package to a 130 is dumb. It strengthens my theory that a backroom agreement with the US to lease or buy refurbished M1 has been drawn up. The notion that MBT’s are history is as daft as the so-called experts, that talk of such nonsense. However, I can hear the MOD supporting a small improved fleet equipped with, high tech countermeasures, and increased survivability to be the equivalent of… Read more »

peter
Guest
peter

How can Ajax a warrior size vehicle replace Scimitar in the recc’ role, narrow tracks, small bridges , trees. Would not Ajax require a bridge layer ????

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

No idea Peter. Look up the Ajax “Scout” version with Turret.
It is to equip 4 Regiments of the RAC. Two in conventional armoured recc role and two as “Medium Armour”

( A HMG stitch up wanting them to be Tanks providing fire support and replacing the “Medium Armour Squadrons” that once used to have Ch2. 7 of those Tank Squadrons were cut previously and some received Scimitar instead.

pete
Guest
pete

Cockrell 105 mm gun would have provided a cheaper alternative to the unproved 40 mm cta which despite 40 years of experimenting the USA couldn’t produce a viable weapon. problems with ejection of spent cases, 200 round barrel life etc?

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

148 seems way below critical mass, I ask myself if it’s even worth retaining MBT capability at such a low number…

100 plus was regarded as the numbers needed in both Gulf Wars, we would struggle to deploy 40 at a push, just a token effort.

pete
Guest
pete

When you reduce numbers parts become more costly as the manufacture of smaller amounts is less profitable and lead times become longer as companies fit production in between their better customers. This in turn affects the numbers fit to deploy!

Nick C
Guest
Nick C

I am continual amused and frustrated by the glib replies that Ministers and civil servants give to simple questions. “Are we reducing the number of tanks?” Surely “yes” or “no” would suffice? Instead we get the usual weaselling as to reviews and studies and such like, rather than the truth.
I don’t know how many tanks the Army need or want, it it can’t change much from one year to the next. Although as far as the MOD and the politicos go the number is always less than it was before.

Crabfat
Guest
Crabfat

C’mon Nick – have you EVER heard a politician say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a simple question? It’s not in their vocab.

Nick C
Guest
Nick C

I’m an optimist, so I still live in hope. As a rather cynical friend suggested, the last person to enter the House of Commons with good intentions was Guy Fawkes.

Crabfat
Guest
Crabfat

Your friend was BANG on with his suggestion!

Cam
Guest
Cam

We should have 227 minimum! We invented the dam tank and we should be a thriving tank building nation, 148 total is a joke. In a proper war we would be snookered. 148 is a token Force!. Just like the Royal Navy used to have 62 lynx and now has 28 wildcats!

lee
Guest

Totally agree cam, we should have 300 minimum and 200 in reserve. Our forces are stretched so thin that we have capability, but no depth in all forces.

Rob Collinson
Guest
Rob Collinson

I doubt whether we would have the manpower to man 300 and 200 in reserve anyway. Most are not even in the UK at the moment anyway. I would be interested to know how many are stored/are mothballed in Canada as it is at the moment. I think that around 150 would be ample for any of the possible future conflict we will engage in. In modern warfare tanks, whilst not obsolete, are not able to deploy or operate properly due to the conditions in theatre. There is also the cost and organic ability to actually deploy that number. Modern… Read more »

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

I’d rather have 148 first rate tanks that can be a day one peer with the Americans, that we can deploy anywhere in the world whenever we want. Very few countries can deploy 100 extremely capable tanks overseas. There is always much more to it then the bare numbers.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Let’s be honest, it’s only really because of Russia that Europe has the tanks we do. Germany keeps 440 odd tanks and France around the same, now the UK have mostly pulled out of Germany our tank numbers are being cut to the bone! But are we still storing tanks and equipment in Germany yeah?

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

I wonder how many of France’s or Germany’s 400 + fleets are actually fully operational, and not sat in a hangar in bits, and how many they could deploy overseas, not many would be my guess. We could afford 400 tanks, but it would come at the cost of something else, maybe 1 less Astute, or the T31 program. I know what I would rather have. We can only do some much with the defence budget we have, and the forces will go for capability over numbers, every single time.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I agree with Robert. For an Island nation with power projection aspirations do we need Tanks, Ships, or Aircraft?

Last two more than the first certainly.

Though numbers still too low! Just that I’d not prioritise getting lots of them over ships, as Robert says.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Why would Germany want to deploy it’s tanks overseas? Or France. Indeed, why would we? The need for the upgrade us to defend a massive tank against some tinpot Arab terrorist with asymetric weapons. Its likely we are limiting this upgrade because we are totally unsure where the next tank development is taking us. Or more to the point… where the next drone development is taking us. It strikes me no one knows where the next bang for the buck is coming from. It might be that the best invest.ent we could do now is to replace our rifles with… Read more »

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

We deployed tanks to Iraq in the first gulf war and in 2003, so you never know, and more recently to Poland.

Ian Gray
Guest
Ian Gray

I think a fully automated unmanned tank would be better and ied proof lead vehicals.!!!!

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

This is a fair point that a lot of people here forget. We have the biggest defence budget of our peers except the USA who probably waste more money and lose it down the sofa than ours in its entirety. Given the budget that we have… how should we spend it. The cutting edge of our army is the SAS … We should develop them and our other supporting special services. It’s not likely we are going to put tanks into war without allies and in Europe we would not be the main tank army… we would be the air… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Agree with all except your last paragraph Trevor.

Trevor Holcroft
Guest
Trevor Holcroft

My reasoning is that when they left office they left a black hole in the plans for defence budget. 12 destroyers were cut to 6 in the process.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Daniele – id agree with Trevor,when you commit to building Two 65,000 tonne Aircraft Carriers your basically going to have a huge financial Albatross around your neck for the next 50 years.Such a big project should have been costed and funded with a standalone budget similar to the Vangard Submarines that wouldn’t impact on the funding for the rest of the Armed Forces.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Looking on wiki,the German and French Tank fleets are marginally better off,the German Leopard 2 totals are around 250 now,increasing to 328 in the future,whether these are from storage (likely) or new build its not clear but they can still be manufactured if needed.The French Leclerc fleet totals 260 with the remainder of the build of around 400 in storage.

Ian Gray
Guest
Ian Gray

A joint European project..!!!! Why absent this been done.. The smooth vote of a Germans gun is the only condition and interchangeable ammo.!!! However, beware a larger German army..twice before. Never again.

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

The RN had way more Lynx than 62 at their peak, Cam.

Agree it’s a shambles.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

88 I think?

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

In that region. 60 built initially, with a follow-up order of 30 after the Falklands during HAS.3 conversion. Some units had been lost in the Falklands on board the ships that were hit, so of the original 60, 53 were converted. It meant we had enough to deploy two from our Antartic patrol ships at the time – and they looked very fetching with their streaks of red! This is a luxury that cannot currently be considered due to the lack of a hangar on HMS Protector and the fall in the number of airframes. That’s not to mention the… Read more »

Cam
Guest
Cam

Lusty we should have kept some lynx helicopters for our new Antarctic ships like protectors replacement, even basing a squadron at falklands, we had the aircraft and crew. I hope Sir David Attenborough has some aircraft. HMS Endurance HMS protectors predecessor had two ice modified lynx. You always need two helicopters embarked for SAR incase ones down. I can’t see any wildcats embarked on HMS Protectors replacement if she gets one with a hangar. We couldn’t spare two!!

Lusty
Guest
Lusty

Exactly Cam.

I would argue for two things – a new, larger purpose-built Ice Patrol ship for the RN (probably an Attenborough variant) and a further batch of Wildcats for both the Army and Navy, with at least some of those allocated for ‘down South’.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Lusty your probably right m8, but that makes my point even worse! 28 wildcats now!!

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

148 meaning with maintenance driving that number down their would be barely the equivalent of a US Armored Brigade or Armored Cavalry Regiment.
The UK should have at least 300-350 tanks in service as that is the minimum number for a armored division. Britain (barring reinstatement of National Service) doesn’t have the numbers for light infantry warfare so should concentrate on high end warfare using armor, aviation, artillery, and superior mobility.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Yep.

The regiments do not have their full complement in peacetime. The rest are stored in CHE as part of WFM.

As well as those with the REME, we also need to add attrition reserves, those kept at BATUS, and those at the Armour Centre at Bovington.

148 is far too few. The numbers are confusing and as I mentioned below there is an article that attempts to see through this –

http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.com/

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Just read the article and its very gloomy reading. Basically due where the Chally’s are deployed around the World, we will struggle to put together anything more than just over 100 tanks if there was an urgent need. We simply don’t have enough tanks that can be deployed en masse in one go. The blog does state that the Hussars will be converting to Ajax leaving us with only two fielded regiments and a reserve regiment that is used to fill personnel gaps in the two regiments. Further, it states that we have moved to a core of 56 tanks… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Morning Davey. Afraid so.

Yes the Royal Wessex Yeomanry is like much of the Army Reserve. People with no supporting kit. They plug gaps they do not deploy as a formed unit in their own right.

The UK can still deploy a Division at best effort. But it is a one shot effort then has nothing to back it up should a sustained operation be required.

Ian Gray
Guest
Ian Gray

Give up those horses, stables, cerimonial, uniforms, everything except real soldiering equipment. .no more pomp. Or no more power.

BV Buster
Guest
BV Buster

Agreed! We seem to be an army of everything other than combat power!!!

BV

farouk
Guest
farouk

The irony, on the day it was revealed that over 300 MPs have had their Parliamentary credit cards blocked for overspending and otherstuff, (Something they tried to hide but failed in the courts) They refuse to inform us if they are going to cut the funding to the armed forces yet again. But what really rankles me on this is Pakistan the biggest recipient of British foreign aid not only has a lot more modern Planes,tanks and nukes than the Uk, they are actually buying more of the them. (looking at buying 360 T90 tanks) The Al Khalid MBT (version… Read more »

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

We are giving a huge amount in aid to Pakistan, where blasphemy against Islam, no matter how slight or accidental, can & does lead to the death penalty. How is this different from Daesh? Why is the UK funding extremist policies in Pakistan?

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Totally agree, I may be heavily biased against Islam due to my time in both Iraq and Afghan. But that does not negate the fact, that nearly half of the Taliban were from Pakistan, where they are taught in holy schools that to kill a Westerner guarantees a pathway to heaven. The majority of the new weapons and ammo that were found or captured were from either Iran of Pakistan. So how much of that did we pay for? As soon as the money gets transferred what accountability is there?

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

“But it gets worse our dishonorable ladies and gentlemen handed over 99 million to Gaza the other week in which to help the poor people there. Yup able to lobb 690 missiles into Israel over 48 hours unable to feed their people. Don’t worry the Britis will feed them.”

Freedom fighters will always find money to fund arms, especially when you live in the largest open air prison in the world, blockaded by a terrorist state like Israel.

pete
Guest
pete

Does that mean Egypt is a prison warder as well blocking free movement out the southern boarder?

Ian Gray
Guest
Ian Gray

Don’t start me off again, it makes my blood boil.!!!!!!

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Blah blah blah blah usual MoD statements that give few answers.

And, as usual, a cut is considered in isolation and not with the other cuts to our armour since the early 2000s.

At the end if the day the British Army is due to reduce to TWO regiments of tanks under Army 2020 Refine, courtesy of General Carter.

If each is a type 58 Regiment what are we doing with 220 tanks anyway?

andy
Guest
andy

and where is the new defence sec in all of this,no doubt if Gav Williamson was still defence sec he would have kept them all..maybe this was just another plot by treasonous May

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

This has been in the pipeline for ages Andy.

And is that 148 inclusive of those in CHE reserve or not?

There is an excellent article over on Gabriel’s blog explaining this.

andy
Guest
andy

it should never have been in the pipeline it should never have been considered,sick of government using defence as a piggy bank for there failings elsewhere,should take it out the foreign aid budget that is not important well to normal people

LongTime
Guest
LongTime

Or cancel HS2 over budget already and not really broken ground yet. I don’t mind the aid budget but at this point we should be answering request with physical items not money and if we find corruption in the countries we aid we should be announcing it to the world.

pete
Guest
pete

Seems HS2 is a gravy train for ministers chum’s!

dan
Guest
dan

PM May seems to be a fan of the Merkel approach to defense.

andy
Guest
andy

more than likely, i remember when i was based in Germany we could not move for tanks and warriors even though at the time they were chally mk1,s they had to upgrade them because the warriors were faster and ended up being in front of the chally,s

Cam
Guest
Cam

Aren’t they still converting 50 odd chally2s to trainer tanks? Just like the RAF they have more trainers than fighter jets! What a dam joke….

Colin
Guest
Colin

At least India has not decided to cut its Tanks buying 460 from Russia we probably bought these with our foreign aid budget

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

We do not give overseas aid to India

Cam
Guest
Cam

Yes we do give India foreign aid. Hundreds of millions every single year.

Trevor Holcroft
Guest
Trevor Holcroft

We do not give money to the government of India.

We have agreed recently to give £98 million (not hundreds of millions a year) but it is invested in Indian businesses and intended to bring a return to the UK.

The UK had given some £230 million over 5 or 6 years – not each year. Aid these days is quite limited.
Leaving aside basic humanitarian aid I do support other aid especially if it links to a return that comes back to the UK. It is of course a moot point about just how much our foreign aid should be.

pete
Guest
pete

Why does a country with a space program deserve aid?

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

We do not give foreign aid to India. People make that up.

peter
Guest
peter

It says online that we gave India 98 million in aid, things like rural education programs etc!

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

you can read whatever you like in money mouse websites. The fact is the govt via the Development Dept. said it gave 98 million over 2 years to India to develop enterprises and technical expertise. The intent is to generate UK businesses as well. I have no idea if this works but the intent seems fair and it is not “aid”. In due course (I hope) after Brexit I suggest we will have to do more still to develop trade (a 2-way thing) with India. How we use aid is a different matter, and how much, is a moot point.… Read more »

Graham
Guest
Graham

Now that Gavin has been replaced as Defence Secretary I suspect that we will see another wave of Treasury driven cuts to the MOD. Reduction in tank numbers, elimination of the Type 31e frigate program and on and on. I will give Penny a chance, but she is clearly more of a May loyalist and unlikely to take the fight to the Treasury.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

If neutrality and disarmament are right for the Uk why not France too?

“Impotence” cause for a flag just there? As what is the point of sites like this otherwise if people cannot discuss matters they are mutually interested in.

Also, why once we get rid of our tanks how come so many nations around the world will still have them? Not needed after all.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

“impotence of those who post here”

And yet you yourself post.

I’d argue you have more than mere impotence….

T.S
Guest

Lol, well that’s a down vote from me… first of many? To respond to your hatred would give you the attention you so desperately seek. Ignore this chump.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

True. Though I find it great sport debunking all its debunking, as when pressed it heads for the hills when questioned or contradicted.

Ignoring just gives a platform for its bile. If it gets worse I’ll send you to the moderation vat!

Mark Latchford
Guest
Mark Latchford

Yep -don’t feed the troll – ignore them and they go away & bother someone else.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

And hey presto, I’ve been down voted en mass. Ouch!

captain lionel mandrake
Guest
captain lionel mandrake

So again we cut a vital weapon to below the numbers required to be credible. Look at the number of hulls, planes and now MBT we could deploy.

2nd rate levels

Michael F
Guest
Michael F
Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Brilliant analysis.

Mark Latchford
Guest
Mark Latchford

Yep – it’s always nice to read Humphreys cogent analysis.

Expat
Guest
Expat

There’s an interesting article on RUSI on this. Essentially even with the reduced numbers we don’t have the heavy transporters to move them around, we have something like 90 Heavy transports which also need to move the AS90. So to position 227 Tanks and heavy artillery 2000km would take weeks. Its easy to forget the associated logistics (and cost) that are required.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Yes. I’m losing track with all the cuts and changes but I think there is/ or was, a Tank Transporter Squadron in Bulford, itself decimated and linked to Sponsered Reservists to fully staff it.

There was another in Germany but God knows what happened to it.

pete
Guest
pete

You often see civy lorries moving tracked military vehicles about, is this because the PFI military transporters cost to much to use?

peter french
Guest
peter french

Once again the waffle . Perhaps they should reduce even further perhaps to 20 citing its lethality . My God who do think they are kidding , they the Government assume we are stupid.
Sadly I suspect that Penny Mordant the new Defence Sec will far more compliant in cuts than her predessor
It make one weep to see the sheer incompetance of our Politicians

Steve P
Guest
Steve P

I read the other linked post that Gabriele referred to and 148 strikes me as not far off what is needed for two T56 regiments. Lets say both regiments have 20 Cll allocated for 40 total. Then you have another 36 at Salisbury for full unit training and the same again prepositioned in Germany. That’s 112. Probably need two squadrons – so 36 – at BATUS Canada getting you to 148. It’s tight but workable. What would be nice is to have the 18 or so tanks in Estonia and say 20 for the Yeomanry as training extras. So 186… Read more »

R Cummings
Guest
R Cummings

The tank has not fallen out of fashion, on the contrary the greater protection and mobility it offers over lighter tracked and wheeled vehicles makes it a key component on the battlefield. The bulk of the US Army consists of armoured and armoured infantry brigades and Russia, China and India count tanks in their thousands. Israel frequently demonstrates the efficacy of heavy armoured units, using the same tactics that Lidell Hart, Guderian and Manstein successfully advocated and developed. We alone seem to be cutting tank numbers to For a key western nation with a population of near-on 66m, fielding just… Read more »

Steve P
Guest
Steve P

I certainly share your sentiments and frustration. Would also love to see a meaningful step up in spending. In the interim I think the best we can do on forums like this is to push for modest incremental adds that will at least make the current planned force structure effective/deployable. So if we are to have only two armored infantry brigades each fielding only 56 tanks then lets at least make that number a deployable floor. To do that I think we need the 186 Number I posted. A lot easier to argue for an extra 38 tanks over the… Read more »