With the debate about the future of British heavy ongoing, RUSI have published an article titled ‘The British Army Should Seek to Retain an Armoured Capability‘.

Nick Reynolds, a Research Analyst for Land Warfare at RUSI, argues that the UK therefore must choose between three courses of action.

“The UK therefore must choose between three courses of action. The first is to modernise the entire existing fleet or buy new tanks. This would preserve the UK’s warfighting division, but likely consume a majority of the budget for modernising the Army at the expense of capabilities, such as long-range precision fires, that are expected to be pivotal on the future battlefield. Nevertheless, if the resources can be found this would send a clear message to NATO that the UK is firmly committed to its mission and ensure the UK’s prominent position in the Alliance.

The second option would be for the British Army to divest itself of heavy armour completely. The prospect of specialisation has been floated as an alternative, whereby the UK would follow other European NATO countries and only maintain some of the components of its armed forces, so that together the Alliance can generate a credible force more efficiently. Given that other NATO members such as the German Bundeswehr have expressed every intention of focusing efforts on its large heavy armoured ground force, the idea of the UK specialising in aviation, recce, cyber and other areas of competitive advantage has some merits. The British ground commitment to NATO could be redefined as three Strike Brigades, which are much easier to project, sustain, and – if paired with fires – could offer a credible reconnaissance strike framework.

The final course of action would be to modernise a portion of the existing fleet. Unlike abandoning tanks entirely, this would mean the British Army retained the expertise in how to employ armour and could regenerate the capability if it proved essential. Fielding less than a division, however, would render British armour dependent on NATO allies to make up the remainder of the formation, and for enablers and sustainment, which would make interoperability critical. The UK would likely need to purchase Leopard 2A7s – which are fielded by numerous European allies and have repeatedly outperformed other designs in trials – rather than maintain a British tank.”

You can read the full piece here.

As is the norm with all defence reviews, a number of rumours of cuts has began to emerge. This time with Challenger 2 being at the focus of the media attention, we looked at raising the often-divisive question as to whether or not tanks have a place on the modern battlefield.

Why Britain will need Main Battle Tanks in the Future

We published this article by Harry Bulpitt designed to examine why tanks continue to maintain relevance on the battlefield, and why if Britain wishes to maintain a significant position militarily within NATO and on the International stage it must maintain its tank force both today and in to the future.

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Stuart Crawford

I’m beginning to think we should look at leasing tanks rather than buying them, as many commercial companies do with their vehicle fleets. It can’t possibly be as expensive as procuring them MoD-style and transfers at least some of the risk to the lessor.

Bloke down the pub

Like it couldn’t possibly be as expensive for the NHS to acquire new hospitals by PFI contracts? Just because industry can make something work, doesn’t mean that government can’t make it overly expensive, late and not fit for purpose.

Tim

Yes pay twice as much as it would be to buy it outright and never own them

Mr Bell

Yes like the 14 billion Voyager air tanker debacle. Not even able to refuel our new Poseidon MPAs

Dern

Not sure you can really call Voyager a debacle, we get a lot of use out of those airframes….
and surely if the new Poseidon MPA can’t be refuelled by the pre-existing Voyager fleet then that the faul lies with the MoD buying Aircraft that can’t be refuelled by our tankers, not the the tanker contract itself?

lee1

The problem is that the contract is not as flexible as owning your own aircraft. If situations change the RAF can do what they like to their own aircraft but they can’t change ones they do not own.

Mark B

Whilst I understand what you are getting at I would suggest:-

1. Separating the design from the build element.
2. The MOD then just need to seek companies to provide designs
3. The best designs result in other companies bidding to build prototypes
4. The Army test the prototypes to destruction – literally
5. Companies or consortiums then bid to build the winning design(s)

The winning design companies then get shed loads of money to reward a delivering what was required

Graham Moore

Good plan. The aircraft carrier project sort of ran on those lines. BAE and Thales drew up designs and the Thales 2-island design was selected then MoD ran a competition for the manufacturing contract. Thales weee probably surprised not to win that but I guess the carriees just had to be built in the UK due to national strategy.

peter wait

Don’t think Blair’s PFI tank transporter contract was a good deal as you see civilian rig’s moving armour about rather than the green transporters. Are they sitting idle somewhere?

Phil

It would seem the obvious thing to go is in fact Warrior, it’s too old, and too under-powered. Use the turret work done for the “upgrade” on the new Boxer and switch all Armoured/Mechanised battalions to Boxer. Wheels can operate perfectly happily along-side tracks as has been proved throughout history, and currently by the French and as is already proposed for the “strike” brigades. The logical thing would be three large brigades comprising a Regiment Ajax, a Regiment of Challenger 3 (or Leopard 2) with 130mm gun, 3 x Boxer Mech Inf. Battalions, 1 x Artillery Regt, 1 x Engineer… Read more »

BB85

I think Warrior would be first in line for the chop due to its age and like you said integrate the new turrets onto boxer modules. I think C2 can be kept relevant for the next 15 years with an upgraded power train, new sights, sensors and digital architecture. When it comes to a new MBT I think we will struggle to have a meaningful role in the American or Franco/German projects which leaves just Sweden and Poland. Even then I’m not sure there will be enough numbers to justify developing our own replacement.

Graham Moore

The Challenger 2 LEP has been designed and developed and is ready to go. Why buy a new tank?

Daniele Mandelli

Will losing WCSP provide enough funds for the additional Boxers?

As usual money has already been wasted.

Because under that scenario you suggest Boxer battalions go from 4 to 9. That is 1 more battalion of infantry than the current planned 4 brigades have with 8 ( 4 Warrior / 4 Boxer )

Tidy

We took out an option on another 900 Boxer on top of the existing order don’t forget. I’m assuming nine uniformly equipped battalions will actually be cheaper to run than 4+4 with two different vehicles etc. I just think three large self-sufficient brigades will be better than 2+2 weak ones. Plus no-one has yet explained how a couple of weak strike brigades driving to the Baltic and into 2,000 Russian tanks will “deter” anything. Nothing East of the Vistula is my motto 😉

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Tidy. Just seen this, sorry for late reply. Where is it confirmed that the “up to 900” additional Boxer have been taken up?? I cannot find any report of this. Excellent if so. As for 3 large brigades instead of 4 smaller ones, yes I agree. I also lament and remind that that is exactly what the British army had up to A2020 before the cuts of 2015 and A2020 Refine. 3 large armoured infantry brigades plus 2 more deployable Infantry ones from adaptable force with enablers to match. That is how MoD spin and defence cuts work. Have… Read more »

Joe16

It’s a good question, and honestly I’m not sure what the cost differences and quantities of the different vehicles would be. You are, in fact the man I would have asked about some of that! How many Warriors would we have to relace, based upon the current army structure for armoured units? I can’t help but agree with the original poster, though; if we’re going to make some hard decisions about cutting capabilities, the getting rid of Warrior seems to be the least painful. Even if we end up have to do a bit of sleight of hand shifting of… Read more »

maurice10

Warrior is a brilliant field weapon and has proved its worth many times over. If incompetence has lead to it being behind the leaders, it’s not due to the basic vehicle. All the update has achieved is to leave it dangling in the budget storm currently passing through Whitehall.

Paul.P

Is it true that a Warrior upgraded with the new 40mm ammunition can defeat the majority of existing tanks?

BB85

The 40mm cta will not be able to take out an MBT but the programable airbirst ammunition is effective against ariesl targets, armour perceiving will take out most apcs and I believe there is a third high explosive type to take out small structures and buildings.

BB85

Apologies for my spelling on this crap phone.

TrevorH

it can’t be as crap as my phone

Paul T

Paul P – The 40mm CTA has an APFSDS-T Round available,you couldn’t rule out a lucky Flank or Rear Shot for a Mission Kill at least,not very likely i admit but in Battle stranger things have happened.

peter

40 mm only good on Apc’s, 150 mm penetration at 1500 m might work on side of T64, with short barrel life, expensive rounds and total cost unwise buy with stretched defence budget!

Paul T

peter – The MOD introducing a Brand New Weapons System and not being able to afford the Ammunition for it – stranger things have happened i guess !.

Daniele Mandelli

Evening Joe. No idea on costs, not even sure on the exact numbers needed. The ORBATS as regard to units and their structure are more my thing. The 500 odd Boxer ordered would only furnish 4 planned battalions ( 3 currently on Mastiff as HPM Battalions ) and their attendant RE & RAMC regiments, and other bits and pieces, along with some variants of Ajax. It is not just the Warriors in the 4 future infantry battalions. ( Currently 6 as Strike has not formed properly yet ) that would need replacing. Warrior is also found in the REME battalions… Read more »

Derek

The answer to your question is simple, buddy. Phillip Hammond is a politician and his lips were moving at the time!

None of what he said he had achieved was true. The smoke and mirrors of a spreadsheet that was based on ‘future savings’, ‘new approaches’ and ‘restructuring of purchasing methods’ that never happened. After he left the Treasury, the multi-billion pound black hole reappeared. It was never gone, it was disguised.

Bob

The issue was they declared the books balanced, but in reality the kicked major funding decisions 5 years down the road i.e. into the next Parliament. So that investment still needed to happen, but they were’t putting money aside to achieve it, because they reused Defence budget to pay for UORs for HERRICK.

Joe16

Thanks Daniele, You really lay out the implications of these different routes- no easy answers. If we did remove Warrior, would REME and the RA be able to make use of the Ajax variants in the roles they need? That could potentially be a way of retiring Warrior and increasing our use of modern, common platforms? You and I are in full agreement; I honestly have no idea where the money goes! Even without creative spreadhseeting, and even ignoring the deterrent, we have a comparatively large defence budget for the physical size of our armed forces. It is verging on… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I agree Joe. There should be a public inquiry and heads should roll, which we know will never happen, no matter who is in government.

I still believe in getting a better balance between capability and mass by buying more cheaper stuff, good enough but not state of the art. I see no other way.

SD67

I never bought the “Hammond balanced the books” narrative. He pushed Successor and T26 to the right that’s all.

And in terms of “where did the money go” – that’s easy, just look at the GBP/USD exchange rate from around 2014 to now. Its gone from 1.7 to 1.3. For some reason known only to God, Boeing get to charge us in USD and don’t need to compete for contracts (Apache E, Chinook, P8)

So we’ve got peak spending years on Successor, a crummy exchange rate, and block obsolescence hitting at the same time

Mr Bell

Anyone seen the recent British Army exercises in Estonia? Just watch it on youtube.
Estonian military have BV series IFVs with larger calibre canons and anti tank missiles. Warrior is outgunned and units equipped with Warrior pushed back or destroyed in simulated combat. But fortunately a few challenger 2s are around to turn the tide of battle. It is the challenger 2s that push the Estonian military back, take and hold ground.
That one 20 minute video was enough to convince me scrap warrior, keep challenger.

Will

Aren’t exercises like that normally staged. Plus those videos are normally partially staged/edited to be more action packed, aka not an accurate representation.

Dern

Not staged per say, but more like: exercising troops will win against opfor eventually. Exercises usually instructional and practice, rather than competative.

Damo

I do think we need to add anti tank missile launchers to most if our Warrior/Boxer/Ajax

dave12

New global Britain with out tanks,what a joke.This governments has lost the plot.

ChariotRider

That assumes that the government, or any other government for that matter, ever had a plot in the first place! When it comes to defence I don’t think any of our governments’ have had a clue..!

TrevorH

Where in the globe do we send our main battle tanks? How do we can them their and their logistics. How long wpuld ut take go get them active when you get them there.

The only place is Poland. That is not the globe. We have 2 aircraft carriers. How many do Germany have? How many F35s does it have,? There is nothing wrong with NATO countries specialing. We can do operate with Norway, Sweden and the Baltics.

Your argument is fatuous.

Meirion X

It would still be quicker to sealift armour to Europe from Uk, then across the Atlantic from the US!

Badrobot

Quicker still if based in Baltic’s.

Andy

Sitting ducks in the Baltic, I’d rather Romania.

Tim

Tanks have been deployed to every war we have fought apart from Afghanistan

Caspian237

The Falklands War?

Daniele Mandelli

Scimitar was used in 82. Ground conditions not favourable for Tanks.

Mr Bell

Scimitar and Scorpions from the blues and royals 4 of each. They proved themselves very adapt for Falklands terrain with low ground contact pressure. Excellent vehicles for the 1980s.

Dern

Iraq, Bosnia, the Baltics, Afghanistan…

Nah your right “the only place is Poland.” XD XD XD

Mr Bell

Currently Warrior and Challenger 2 battle groups totally 2000 men are in Poland and Estonia. That is where they are deployed as to logistics, it’s fine forward deploying in peacetime but any Russian aggression and those units will struggle to withdraw to safety or be reinforced. They are a token gesture only.

Steven

Global Britain is about engagement and trade not invasion 🙂

Robert Blay

Well said 🇬🇧

lee1

We are not doing well at that either… Having a powerful military and one that can fight on the ground is essential if you want to be a global player. It is sad but true.

lee1

They never had the plot to lose in the first place.

Andrew

I fear the challenger 2 will be remembered as the last British Main Battle Tank….A frightening thought, we could be the only permanent member of the U.N. Security council without any tanks!

BB85

It will depend if Poland and Sweden want to join with the UK on a future MBT project to compete with the Franco/German effort.
I think overall everyone will need to select the same canon which really just leaves the chassis, power train and sights to develop. I can’t remember if Poland are already part of the Franco/German effort or not, they are the only other European country that would order enough to make the project viable.

Peter Wegrzyn

Poland have been excluded by the French and Germans hence they are looking at the Korean K2. 800 tanks for $9bn with technology transfer. The K9 chassis deal for the Krab howitzer has gone well.
The 2PL upgrade for the Leopards has become far more expensive than Poland expected and Poland may have lost interest in the German-French tank which is not available soon enough for Poland, without technology transfer and a price probably twice what they want to pay.

TrevorH

Have you noticed we have nuclear bombs? More to the point, we and western allies don’t have chemical weapons, but Russia does and has used them.

ChariotRider

Tick-in-the-box mentality of British politicians in frightening. Another example is the Samson radar. Was fitted to HMS Daring in 2007 so the radar is already 13 years old. The MoD has not taken up BAE System suggested development path and given that the radar was the product of a long term development programme dating back to the late 1980’s I suspect that our large AESA radar capabilities will whither in the same way as our tank capabilities have. MoD just doesn’t get it. You want high tech. you have to maintain the scientific and engineering capabilities! Experience takes time –… Read more »

Robert Blay

Samson is still the most capable radar fitted at a air defence destroyer anywhere in the world. And in 13 years, they will definitely have received software updates.

Cymbeline

Sampson Radar very highly thought of in RADAR circles, though I’m lead to believe AN/SPY-3 is its equal and AN/SPY-6 might take it to the next level when it comes into service.

Robert Blay

Thanks mate, not very familiar with AN/SPY 6.🤙

Cymbeline

I’m more familiar with army radar,Mortar Locating/Directing Artillery Fire, but always maintain an interest whatever the discipline.

This article might be of interest to you.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2019/05/09/navyraytheon-spy-6-radar-boosts-sea-based-defense-against-ballistic-hypersonic-threats/#3e0ab9757c4e

Airborne

Ah that’s why your avatar is Cymbeline!!!!!

Cymbeline

Indeed so, long defunct now of course, but it was a huge leap forward when we got it in 74′ from Green Archer.

ChariotRider

Hi Robert, I agree, and from what I have read I think that they are also recieving obsolescence updates as well. My point is that the Samson could have been the basis for a family of very capable radars going forward had BAE System’s suggestions been taken up. These could have equipped future AD ships and perhaps land based air and ballistic missile defences. Save the Royal Navy as just put an article up about the spread of long range cruise missiles. Submarine launched weapons are a particular threat given our geography, suggesting that an improvement land based air defences… Read more »

Meirion X

The MoD are developing a AESA radar for the Typhoon, so it is the matter of the air development team knocking on the door of the naval development team to tell them what they are up to, and ask them to join in.

That would make prefect sense, wouldn’t it!

Robert Blay

Very different radars and capabilitys though, but I’m sure the tech will be shared with those that need to know.

ChariotRider

Hi Meirion, I would guess and hope that some of the people who worked on Samson would transfer across to the new Captor-E Mk2 Radar team. As Robert points out they are very different radars (hence my point about ‘large AESA’ radar capabilities), but with commonality in technology. So perhaps we might be able to develop a flexible radar development capability (dreams wistfully). With my more realistic head on I forsee that when we need a new radar for the T45 replacement (assuming we ever build another Destoryer) we will not have the capability, so will have to buy from… Read more »

Badrobot

Although the only permanent member that’s an island. Perhaps there better are ways for an island nation to apply force abroad.

lee1

No matter what you have, if you want to take and hold land you need ground forces. If you have ground forces you need heavy armour. (or at least heavier armour than your enemy). We could have the best aircraft, the best ships and the best cyber warfare in the world but that would not allow us to take and hold land. Given that pretty much every war has involved holding or taking land then it would put us at a huge disadvantage.

pkcasimir

The options being presented are really banana republic ones. At best, the UK, even if it modernizes its 148 Challenger 2s, will only be able to field 2 tank regiments. The Polish Army can field about 150 Leopards out of its inventory of around 1000 tanks.

Daniele Mandelli

Which is fine, as we are changing to 2 Armoured Regiments from 3. KRH is converting from Tank to Ajax.

pkcasimir

No way is the UK going to be taken seriously by the US, NATO, or anyone else for that matter, if all it can bring to the fight is two armored regiments. If your end goal is a nation that no one listens to and even acknowledges the UK’s hand when it’s raised, then that’s “fine.”

Robert Blay

If you really think international relations, and our Armed Force reputation is based on the number of tanks we own. Then you are gravely mistaken.

Daniele Mandelli

Not really, as banana republics don’t have SSN and carriers and a host of other assets. As for only bringing 2 armoured regiments to the fight, if that’s all you think the UK has to offer NATO, I cannot help you. The UK is taken seriously now with 3 regiments, so reducing to 2 in the greater scheme of things changes little. However, a total removal is a different story. Ignoring raised hands? What are you on about? Whether the UK chooses to field Tanks does not change the fact the UK is somebody. You and your American colleague Dan… Read more »

Airborne

We have a little more capabilities than just Armour, capabilities which are extremely limited in European NATO countries. Armour is important yes, but there’s more to asymmetric warfare than who has the most Armour. Yes we need a full spectrum of capabilities and assets but we shoulder more of the NATO burden than any other country aside the US.

Paul T

We in the UK will forever be known as ‘The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier’

pkcasimir

If ever there was an example of “whistling past the graveyard”, it’s the comments above. The UK has a nuclear deterrent dependent upon the US’s good will and the missiles it leases to the UK. A lease and technical support for the SSNs and nuclear warheads than can be withdrawn at any time. The UK likes to believe it is indispensable to the US. The US just shakes its head in disbelief at that belief.
The UK may be an unsinkable aircraft carrier but it can still be destroyed beyond recognition while still afloat.

Paul T

If the situation becomes so bad that the UK is Destroyed beyond Recognition its beyond any hope whatsoever,and would the USA be unscathed – i seriously doubt it.

Daniele Mandelli

And the US intelligence apparatus is reliant on other nations “good will” as you call it. If countries like Australia and the UK decided to no longer play ball where would you move Pine Gap, Menwith Hill, and countless other intelligence sites to? Would cost a small fortune. The UK is certainly not “indispensable” to the US, but through the UKUSA agreement all parties benefit. Including the US. The UK is useful to the US for one reason, after World War Two the remnants of empire gave the US access to bases around the world. A glance at the wikileaks… Read more »

Airborne

And everyone else in the world shakes their heads in disbelief at what you all get up to in the States.

maurice10

Without an MBT the UK could find itself marginalised in the future, regarding its ability to maintaining a senior role in land warfare command? The Battle tank remains the key symbol of amoured strength, and no other component can match it in the power league, hence the continued development of the beast. The notion the UK can still maintain its place on the command table minus an MBT, is tantamount to the England football team playing without a goalie. The concept may work on paper, however, the likelihood of success is in doubt.

Badrobot

Components I can think of that can match a tank: javelin, hellfire, brimstone or a 155mm round.

maurice10

I meant component in the context of the political significance of a MBT, not necessarily its lethality.

TrevorH

isn’t an F35 significant? A QE carrier?

maurice10

Not in the case of land warfare credentials and matching your allies and foe it ain’t.

TrevorH

So?
Germany does not match our sea warfare credentials. Neither does France. So your comparison is no big deal.

maurice10

The comparison is about land warfare using heavy armour, and without an MBT, we will lose influence in these theaters.

Dern

But out of all of those only the Jav can take and hold ground, and even then a Jav platoon will struggle (to put it mildly) to do the same job a tank can.

Mr Bell

Or a top attack from a 500lb laser guided bomb. The truth is though that all of those systems need to be tested against modern active protection systems fielded on t90ms and aramata etc.

TrevorH

You think? I think long range artillery is pretty important.

Caspian237

Specialisation is required. No European country can afford to maintain the full spectrum of military capabilities with current budgets. To attempt to do so will lead to absolute codependency in all facets of military effort while still not achieving the full spectrum. Decide what you need to do and do it well. It would make little sense, for instance, for Germany to cut its armoured vehicle fleet so that it could purchase some amphibious warfare vessels of which it currently has none. It is true, of course, that Britain could increase its defence budget significantly to allow a greater spread… Read more »

TrevorH

It would lead duplication of effort.

Rob

Full spectrum warfare capability is outside of the reach of the current budget. Having a little of everything means we effectively are a Jack of all trades but master of none. Let the Poles, Germans etc, carry the land Armoured maneuver warfare burden (after all they are going to be invaded first). We should stick to what we are exceptional at, naval operations, fast air and expeditionary light infantry ops (Paras, Commandos & special Forces). The posture of the Army needs to be limited BUT maintain the ability to regenerate in time of war by keeping (rather like Canada) cap… Read more »

Caspian237

Yes, I agree. Also, if maritime warfare was one of the UK’s areas of expertise then this would tie in with the National Shipbuilding Strategy that the government announced with much aplomb a few years ago. Such a focus could have wonderful knock-on effects for Britain’s shipbuilders and the wider UK economy, particularly if larger batches resulted in lower unit costs and more foreign sales.

John Miles

Tanks have become items to protect more than project. They, as manned vehicles, fill no niche anymore. Heavy armour can be attacked from the sky with total precision, and there are dedicated vehicles for moving personnel.

Plus. We are a maritime nation. Let it be so.

Nathan

I wouldn’t mind specialisation if we didn’t have commitments elsewhere which NATO isn’t really interested in.

Badrobot

In which case what capabilities best support those commitments? Is it really the MBT?

Caspian237

It is a bit of a moot point though because if we don’t specialise then we only guarantee that the cupboard is bare across all three services, precluding any non NATO actions in the absence of NATO forces to plug the gaps in our capabilities.

andy

given the fact the army is undermanned and struggling to recruit and maintain it,s boots on the ground numbers,i fear it could be another reason for the possible axe,i served in a warrior btn in Paderborn and Warrior was good but it was built in the 80,s yes it has been in a lot of theatres from Iraq Afghan but an important role in Bosnia,and i think it would be better to let Warrior go,and keep Challenger,upgrade it we cannot afford new at present,but maybe add a few more boxer into the mix

Christopher Allen

Is it me or are the French far more competent with their defence spending?

Joe16

I get the same impression, yes.

Robert Blay

No, they are not. They have slightly better numbers in certain areas, but not the capabilitys we have in many areas. ISTAR, Strategic Airlift, Heavy lift helicopters to name just a few.

BB85

While I agree with your points here, the UK purchased its strategic lift and ISTAR assets off the shelf from the US. In terms of supporting our domestic industry the MOD has obliterated what used to be one of the leading armoured vehicle industries in the world through constantly changing requirements and priorities. Tracer went nowhere, FRES was a shambles, Ajax was a foreign design manufactured by a foreign company and was also delayed, Warrior LEP was a predictable disaster and Boxer has finally been ordered 10 years after it would have entered service and 17 years after we left… Read more »

Robert Blay

But are tanks going to be the future of warfare, who knows. Id still take our Armed Forces any day over France’s. Our nuclear deterrent is also home grown except the Trident missiles, British boats, British warheads. And Astute class is far superior to any French attack boat.

Joe16

The question was competence in spending what they have, not their force makeup; that is rather different. As others have mentioned, they have a thriving and broad domestic defence industry, producing everything from SSNs to multirole fighters, to ASW frigates, to armoured vehicles and beyond. Their land forces in particular appear to have a much more planned and thought out make-up than ours do, and commonality seems to be something they embrace better than we do. It’s also worth mentioning that their nuclear deterrent is completely domestic and maintains an air arm too, unlike ours. Absolutely, they don’t have the… Read more »

Paul T

Joe16 – Agree,im struggling to find a French equivalent of TSR2,Nimrod AEW MK1,Nimrod MR4 and FRES,so much money wasted.

peter wait

Are defence spending is like buying a kitchen from a pushy salesman, the bill keeps going up as all the extras are added on, the only difference is those involved are not offered a nice job at kitchen world after the deal is signed lol !

peter wait

Daily mail printed that 37 percent of government workers went to Defence contractors, seems a bit high!

TrevorH

If so, why do they need us to help them in Chad?

Christopher Allen

Trevor, so they needed help, what is your point exactly? How many post WW2 conflicts has the US got involved in without help. I can only think of Granada.

Mr Bell

Mali. They are lacking heavy air lift via Chinook or Globemaster.

peter wait

The French Government has a stake in many of its defence firms, hard to overcharge when the Government knows the price, seems Macron would like to reduce this involvement to make his chums richer!

Cam

I think we should modernise the fleet and try to get onboard a Future joint European tank project, or American. But can we afford it (yes) but by the way the defence expenditure figures have been doctored and made to look like there’s huge holes everywhere in the finances therefore justifying major cuts! It’s hard to get support for more expenditure! It’s planed like that!!. We all know they’ve been playing funny buggers with the budget! Adding in pensions and the deterrent ect. We need to spend what we need to have a credible force no matter the cost! Well… Read more »

Robert Blay

Most countries add the pensions as part of the defence budget, that is nothing new. We do have a credible force. We need to remember highly capable equipment comes with a very big price tag. And we have taken capability over numbers. And the investment in our personal also doesn’t come cheap. One thing that is hardly ever mentioned in defence websites. The quality and training of our personal is what makes the British Armed Forces a cut above the rest, and why we are universally respect, and admired the world over, regardless of how many tanks we have/don’t have,… Read more »

Damo

I think our rep has taken a big hit thanks to some of our performance in Iraq and Afghanistan

Airborne

Mate we had no issue with our performance in Afghan!

Cam

Robert Blay, but what’s the point in having the best trained personnel when the numbers of “Personnel” are so low? And arguably there’s lots of nations with just as well trained personnel or better and in far bigger numbers. Britain should have a national guard Type system that numbers hundreds of thousands so if needed can be called up to defend NATO and the UK. Atleast basic train 200,000 British young men and supply with the army basics, even train them in our main weapon systems. Just incase.. British numbers of tanks, fighter jets, artillery, soldiers, sailors, frigates, destroyers, helicopters… Read more »

Robert Blay

And who’s going to pay for all that lot? it’s a dream mate. And do we need it, we are not going around the world invading countries for shits n giggles. And there is no Russian fleet heading over the North Sea to invade. And I would seriously dispute the claim of ‘lot’s of countries with better trained personnel in greater numbers’. Israelis might get more combat experience, but better trained, i very much doubt it.

Airborne

Spot on mate, all our allies know we are up for a scrap at any level! Politics be damned once deployed we can be relied on to go kinetic and stick with it!

Mr Bell

Or just upgrade C2 to a C3 standard and that should see us ok for next 15+ years. Small price to pay to keep a key capability.

Pacman27

I personally believe given our limited budget and years of mismanagement that the time has come to go fully in on Strike (Boxer), a larger apache force and the full set of F35’s I am not anti tank, but think we can get more value from having a full fat Boxer force with all the suppressing fires, Anti Tank and Air Denial systems available, backed up by a force of Apaches that are can operate alongside the boxers. We can reuse the guns from the Warrior LEP and that will be a massive jump in capability and perhaps most importantly,… Read more »

JohnHartley

When you look at the large numbers of tanks and artillery our potential opponents have, it is scary how undergunned the modern British Army is. If we cannot afford the full Gucci update for our 225 approx. C2, then at least do a bare minimum upgrade. If the USMC is getting rid of a large number of M777 155mm light guns, then buy 50-75 cheap 2nd hand for Royal Artillery/Marines. C2 is too heavy to be easily deployed. We did not send it to Afghanistan. We need a heavily armed/protected armoured car/medium tank. Italy’s Centauro II, or this new BAE/GDLS… Read more »

Tim

Yet every single deployment by our forces has seen vehicles up armoured continually from APC to tanks all of them more and more armour added there is no place for some light tank we need to buy a new tank and be done with it stop cutting all the time and accept defence costs money

Dern

America tried that with the M551 Sheridan…. lets just say there is a reason it was retired without a direct replacement.

JohnHartley

The gun/ Shillelagh missile system had lots of issues on the Sheridan, but the previous US light tank, the M41 Walker Bulldog, gave many decades of useful service to allied nations. Many were modernised with larger 90mm or 105mm guns & given diesel engines.

Dern

Key word “to allied nations.” Again there is a reason the US got rid of the M41 and slashed it’s budget. And it’s certainly not in use with anything resembeling a credible land force these days.
Btw the gun system wasn’t the only problem with the Sherridan, attempts to put more conventional guns into it where effectively stillborn. Light Tanks are usefull for recce and that’s about it.
Airmobile armour doesn’t have the survivability to validate it’s existance on the battlefield except in very niche situations, and the British Army certainly shouldn’t be investing in “very nice situations.”

JohnHartley

C2 was designed to fight within a few miles of its bases in Germany. It did not matter if it was very heavy.
Over the last 20 years, Britain has been fighting far & wide. Deployability is now key. Not having a deployable medium tank/armoured car, means having no armoured firepower, when we need it in places like Afghanistan.

Dern

C2 has deployed across the middle east on operations and excercises. I think it’s proved that it very much is a deployable asset.

JohnHartley

Well all those NATO ground supply columns were vulnerable to attack as they moved through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Having something credible that is also light enough to fly in on an A400M, avoids that risk.

Dern

And then provides nothing when it’s on the ground because it’s not actually armoured by todays standards.

JohnHartley

Not so, we are talking at least level 3 armour standards. It is hardly a snatch Land Rover.

JohnHartley

The US Army Medium Protected Firepower competition seems to have been missed by most people this side of the pond. It is for just over 500 light tanks (600 if USMC buy a 100).
The BAE prototype is based on the M8 Buford that was nearly adopted a couple of decades ago.
The GDLS is based on an Ajax chassis with a scaled down M1 turret on top.
Gun is likely to be 105mm, though 120mm is an option. Weight 30-38 tons depending on final version adopted. Active protection system either Rafael Trophy or Rheinmetall Strike Shield.

AlexS

Without an APS is difficult to see how British Army is serious in land combat.
In an emergency today what British Army could do? Challenger tanks cannot be front line tanks today at status they are against a top enemy.

US tanks in Europe got Trophy because they realized they did not stood a chance to the AT land missile war.

Damo

I think Challenger is still a front line tank. Underpowered yes, but it’d still do a damn good job. I don’t understand your last sentence I’m afraid so I can’t comment on that

AlexS

I meant that a tank in an European war or even against a Heezbollah type adversary would need to think that maybe a dozens of missiles will fly toward it. While we in Europe think in “efficiency expenditure” terms others don’t care, More than a decade ago was surprised/not surprised(when i understood the logic) to read that Heezbollah had no qualms in firing dozens of AT missiles – many sort of blind firing – against just couple of Israeli tanks to get an hit because losses in Western world are felt several times more. You can expect that kind of… Read more »

Damo

I understand what you mean now. Appreciate the clarification. We won’t agree on Challenger in a European peer v peer war which is fine, we don’t need to. You’re right on your 1st point. Western societies, especially the UK, do not want to see their young men and women coming home in body bags. There is no cult of death, no martyrdom, no general belief that they died in a bigger cause. It impacts public opinion and government strategy, again as we saw later in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The US have a different attitude to the military, hence their… Read more »

Paul T

Alex5 – You have the Challenger’s Main Gun the wrong way around,because of its HESH Round it has more uses against a variety of targets,but against peer level Tanks it is falling behind.

AlexS

HESH round have usually lousy ballistics, only explodes if it hit and it is no good against troops in field. It is just for against bunkers and the like.

I think that the current AT sub caliber is still ok against Russian tanks which almost all are of T-80/90 variants.

Airborne

Really?

dan

Sure hope the Brits don’t take the same road on defense that Merkel and Germany has…..

Dern

I don’t know, increasing defence budgets and spending more year over year sounds pretty good…

Peter S.

The first purpose of defence forces is to deter. We spend £billions on Trident in the full hope it will never be used. For decades, UK deployed fully equipped armoured divisions in West Germany in order to help deter a Soviet attack. But the East/West border has shifted hundreds of miles East and a now united Germany has only about 250 L2s in full working order. So does Britain’s 200 odd strong tank force contribute to collective security by deterrence? I think it should be larger( with numbers in storage at readiness) but even in present numbers, its ability to… Read more »

Bernard Fox

British Armour must not be scrapped, not only would it be idiotic but it would be virtually suicidal! The Brass just want to spend more money on being ‘woke’ and destroying Britain from within.

Badrobot

Suicidal? So CH2 defends the UK coastline? If we scrap them be are defeated, by whom? Tanks in a British context are for coalition operations abroad. But tanks aren’t the only way we can make meaningful contributions to such operations.

Bernard Fox

No, it leaves us wide open and stifles our ability to not only defend but to control or attack a given area. We made the exact same mistake before WWII. in cutting back our heavy and admittedly expensive military equipment and personnel, relying on the part-time reserves. It did us no good then and will do us no good now. Russia and N. Korea are a threat but now China is becoming our greatest threat, both to Britain and NATO. Russia is re-emerging as an aggressive nation and the cold war is nearly back on again. If we get rid… Read more »

Airborne

I think we could all waffle on this subject for years couldn’t we! However simple crux of the matter is that to be a tier one player, you need the full spectrum of capabilities. No one knows what can happen in the future, but as an organization the military does try to plan and evaluate possible options and threats, years down the line. The problem you have is if your remove a capability then it’s nigh on impossible to regenerate quickly, if at all. My two pennethworth is that you need a minimal armour capability. Go back to a single… Read more »

Badrobot

The problem is that we’re not a tier one power because we can’t afford full spectrum capability in sufficient depth to make it resilient and meaningful. We’re second tier, we have reach but not mass. Who can we defeat with a non reinforceable division? It’s a one shot effort, that could end up in the wrong place. We’re part of NATO, so we can share risk, burden and capability. There’s a sound argument that we could add more by focusing on niche assets to deploy as part of a NATO corps in eastern Europe. Assets which also lend themselves to… Read more »

AlexS

“because we can’t afford full spectrum capability”

Let me correct that:

“because we don’t want to afford full spectrum capability”

🙂

Badrobot

In depth Alex, in depth…in order to be resilient and meaningful.

Airborne

I’ve always said we should specialize in our strongest areas but we still need a broad spectrum. We lack depth yes and the ability to sustain casualties but as you said we are part of NATO and able to be backfilled and supported as required.

Glass Half Full

“At present, however, it is difficult to see how the CR2s would make it to the fight.” quoted from Jack Watling’s RUSI opinion piece – https://rusi.org/commentary/Britains-Declining-Tank-Numbers-Highlights-a-Wider-Problem Those advocating for UK heavy tracked armour need to address how, when and where the UK will use it. Permanent forward deployment to the Baltics, Poland or Germany is expensive and restricting, particularly if Russia decides it wants to move into the far north of Norway instead. In the case of the Baltics and Poland, and perhaps also Germany (the latter still being a long way from the conflict and likely to still require… Read more »

Glass Half Full

The Nick Reynolds RUSI opinion piece states that, “The second [option] is radical, but contrary to the direction of travel in Russia, China, France, Germany, the US, Israel, India, and most other militaries.” The issue with such comparisons is that different countries have different problems and priorities they are addressing versus the UK. For example, Russia, China, Israel and India are all front line states against their perceived and actual threats. The German border is only 300 miles from Kalingrad and less than 500 miles from Belarus. The US is a class to itself in military capability so direct comparisons… Read more »

Badrobot

Spot on.

Wayne

I think the British Army have proved over the last 30 years how we can move armour in combat situations. It really isn’t as difficult as many here make out. A tracked vehicle perfectly capable of driving long distances if required. The failure rate might be higher but we have good systems and CSS units in place to mitigate such failures. What matters is placing a credible force in front of a enemy force. If your force lacks the tactical mobility to out manoeuvre the enemy, firepower great enough to destroy the enemy and protection enough to avoid being hit… Read more »

Glass Half Full

To be clear, I am not denigrating the UK’s past or current abilities with the equipment that they had/have or the respect they are held in, but we are now considering what is relevant for the next 20-30 years and probably beyond, on a modern battlefield, primarily against a top tier adversary such as Russia. Such a conflict would not be similar to the initial actions and successes against Iraq in both wars, and certainly not to the post invasion insurgency, or experiences in the Balkans. For starters we would not be likely to have air superiority unless NATO hold… Read more »

Dern

I think the key point is Will. As in mental fortitute will. There’s not reason we couldn’t deploy Challenger to Afghan, the powers that be just decided that they didn’t want to because it would look too “war-y,” but the Canadians and Danes both proved that you can deploy a MBT to Afghan and get pretty good use out of it. We can deploy our Challengers to Iraq for two large wars, Oman for big exercises, Bosnia for peacekeeping. The balance of history shows that Britains heavy armour absolutely can and will make it to the fight (and has utility… Read more »

John Clark

I keep swinging in both directions with the Challenger decision. As we have discussed before, we have only used tanks in mass twice during the last 40 years, both times in Iraqi in 91 and 03. On both occasions we deployed an armoured division with 150 and 125 MBT’s at its heart. With 225 in the inventory, we could probably still deploy 100 ( at a push), if we drop down to 150, we will have lost critical mass and perhaps lost the very point of keeping Challenger. So perhaps it’s a case of upgrade or replace 225 MBT’s or… Read more »

Meirion X

@John
I agree with you as well!

Paul T

Wayne – The British Army has Deployed Armour in the last 30 years as you say,but has the Supply and Transport Infrastructure been under any threat during those times ?.If you are looking at the obvious Peer in Russia that might not be the case.

peter wait

Cost of tracks, fuel and drive train to high to drive tanks long distance, that’s what transporters for 1

Joe16

While I don’t hold to the view that we’ll be a despised laughing stock if we no longer have heavy armour, I do think that their utility justifies keeping them in ORBAT. As I’ve discussed with a few on here, I’d be more willing to cut Warrior for more Boxers and Ajax, or potentially even have CH2 (with LEP+HAAIP) as a slot in upgrade to Strike than lose MBTs altogether. I’m not against a replacement of CH2 with Leopard or even Abrams, but my understanding is that all the decent second hand Leopards that could be upgraded to A7 standard… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I’m of the same views. The British army also needs to stop faffing around with every bit of kit they fancy and buy OTS.

Paul T

Daniele – I saw a saying yesterday that sums up everything that is wrong with our procurement choices – ‘Better Is The Enemy Of Good Enough’ .

Nigel Collins
Daniele Mandelli

Is it cheaper to buy these than upgrade Challenger? If so I have no issues whatsoever buying German tanks if they are a good price and high quality.

The Germans have a history of producing great Tanks, after all!

Paul T

Sorry for butting in – is the cost per Upgraded C2 known,would it be a fixed price like the T23 LIFEX ?.If Leopard 2’s were bought they would have to be New Build,all the Second Hand Bargains are long gone,i wouldnt know if it would work out any cheaper.Getting some M1’s might be a cheaper option if Uncle Donald played Ball,simply because there are more of them available,but being Turbine Powered might be a problem.

Daniele Mandelli

Paul, there is no such thing as butting in. This is a forum for us enthusiasts who care, and some who don’t. Fire away.

I know not the answers to your questions.

Dern

I don’t think going Leopard, or worse M1, is a great idea. Everyone loves to float them but the fact is both designs are now old, having entered service in the 1970’s. Before we look into buying them and then having to replace our stock of spares, retrain all our tank crews and supporting elements the question needs to be asked what does this achieve? Neither Leopard nor M1 represents a significant upgrade from Challenger. If the money isn’t there to upgrade Challenger 2, we’re much better off going on with it for another decade or so and snapping up… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Fair comment Dern. So not such a good idea when the complications are laid out.

peter wait

The leopards available would be older A2 and A4 and require upgrading to A7 so would not save any money. Challenger hydro-gas suspension out performs outdated torsion bar designs from 1970’s.

Nigel Collins

Hi Daniele,

“Is it cheaper to buy these than upgrade Challenger?”

Not the faintest I’m afraid, I just happened to see this post and thought I’d
bring it to peoples attention!

Bob2

Thanks for the link Nigel. Interesting to note that the Germans are increasing the number of tanks they have in their 10th Panzer division, as this is their stabilisation force for use in low intensity conflicts. You might have thought the extra tanks would go in the 1st Panzer Division which is their intervention force. We often discuss how tracks and wheels should not be mixed, however it appears this is common in the German army where the brigades of the 1st Panzer division are mixtures of Leo2s, Puma IFV and boxers. Their 41st Panzergrenadier Brigade even looks a bit… Read more »

Bob2

Hi Daniele,

I think it is the battalion that is new not the tanks they will be using.

I believe the 44 they will be receiving are from the 100 or so tanks that the German government announced would be taken up from their reserve stocks and given to newly formed front line units.

As their reserve forces now have fewer tanks, there is even less of a chance they would offer any to the UK.

T.S

The UK SHOULD be able to afford to have a main battle tank, and in greater numbers than we currently have. But this would require defence spending to be raised to an adequate level, around 3% imo. However, if no money is forthcoming, which it wont be, then we just have to accept (through gritted teeth) that we can no longer field full spectrum capabilities. I would rather see the money spent on capabilities that are used on a regular basis, and not one which may or may not be used once every 1-2 decades. We are an island nation,… Read more »

Leonidas

I cannot imagine the British Army without the Royal Tank Regiment, and it’s other armored regiments.

Nigel Collins

Some good news!

“Defence secretary denies plan to mothball British army tanks”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54126146

HF

Difficult to believe a tory politician at the best of times, which this is not, but it has been denied:- https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/sep/12/defence-secretary-denies-british-army-is-scrapping-tanks

Barry Curtis

The defence and security review 2020, is already producing some leaks of what might be in store for the armed forces once again, just to find out what the public reaction will be like. So going by past reviews this will involve more painful cuts to conventional forces, that also makes short-sighted planning assumptions that delays the armed forces procurement strategy, if they have one. Which is long overdue especially for the army that still operates with equipment that was designed back in the 1950’s. Personally the army does need to replace its ageing fleet immediately, and to have a… Read more »