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.”
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.
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.