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, raising the often-divisive question as to whether or not tanks have a place on the modern battlefield.


This article was submitted by Harry Bulpit. Harry recently completed a degree in war studies at York St John University. While he has a general interest in military history and development, one of his primary areas of interest is in armoured vehicles. As such his final piece of work for his degree was a 10,000 world dissertation on Challenger 1 and 2 and its impact on the British Army.


This essay will 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.

While Challenger 2 did not deploy to Afghanistan. Foreign MBT such as Danish Leopard 2 did. Where, sometimes wile working with British forces, they proved themselves valuable assets. Able to not only provide direct fire support but could also monitor areas of interest using their sophisticated optics. Indeed, it was suggested that the simple presence of such tanks was enough to make the Taliban leave the area. Although there was good reason not to send Challenger 2 to the conflict such as the logistics involved in deploying and sustaining such a large vehicle in the region. As well as the escalation of theatres that the presence of Challenger 2 would have caused.

The performance of other MBTS in Afghanistan along with that of Challenger 2 in Iraq proved the viability of tanks in modern asymmetric warfare. On top of this the increasing risk of a conflict with peer states such as Russia, means not only is more emphasis being placed back on conventional forms of warfighting. Specifically, tanks. But also serves to demonstrate how quickly world affairs, and with it the types of conflicts that can be realistically expected, can change.

British tanks in Germany at the Hohne Ranges.

Nevertheless, doubt has emerged over the viability of tanks on the modern battlefield, in both conventional and unconventional conflicts. Since the Second World War, the prevalence of man portable anti-tank weapons has made tanks more vulnerable to ground forces. This has led some to say that the tank can no longer survive on the modern battlefield. However, the reality is nothing is invulnerable. Even during the height of the tank in WW2, many vehicles were knocked out by anti-tank guns and later handheld weapons. Just because the enemy has the capacity to kill an asset, it does not mean that asset should not be used. Not that the existence of weapons such as ATGMS on the battlefield necessarily means it will be effective. There are multiple active protection systems in existence to counter ATGM that disrupt the missile before impact, further still Challenger 2 demonstrated that in some cases physical armour can protect against potable anti-tank missiles as well. It is also worth noting that ATGMS will not be the only threat AFV will have to deal with in the future, such as airburst munitions, indirect fire, and mines, which active protection cannot protect against. As such conventional armour would still be desirable, if not necessary. However, both systems our only a last resort and often situation awareness and proper command is the first and best line of defence against any threat. With many of the high profile MBT defeats actually being a result of poor use, rather than an actual weakness of the tank. It is also crucial to note that an ATGM is susceptible to the armaments of a tank, and that their position is likely to be exposed after firing.

Image Crown Copyright 2020

Nevertheless, ATGM and RPGs, are incapable of taking ground, therefore infantry will still have to advance, meaning they will continue to need vehicles for mobility, protection, and fire support.

Many have therefore suggested that the future of AFV lies in 8X8 wheeled vehicles since they are often faster and more mobile then tracked vehicles. While this is indeed true no matter how fast a vehicle is, it will never be able to outrun a missile. This was why the Germans sacrificed the mobility of the Leopard 1 for the armour of Leopard 2, due to lessons learned from the Yom Kippur War. Further still a combat vehicles speed is likely to be dictated by the operational terrain, then the actual capability of the vehicle. Even in regard to the advantages a wheeled vehicle fleet has in terms of moving to the battlefield, these can be mitigated in practical terms. It is often said that tracked vehicles are too slow and complicated to react to an ongoing conflict and require a heavy logistics train. However, as an island nation this is a somewhat moot point. Unlike a continental power, wherever the British Army deploys an armoured force it will have to transported them there. likely by ship.

This would reduce much of the time spent traveling to a conflict zone by the vehicle itself, regardless of being wheeled or not. Even in regard to a European conflict, the fastest and most practical way of moving a fighting forces will be by rail, and not by a road march. Also, in the recent conflicts that the British Army has been involved in, they have been the ones taking the initiative with the preceding political negotiations and air campaign providing enough time for ground forces to form up and prepare.

This is not to say that wheeled AFV are not useful, indeed it is an area in equipment that Britain has long wished to fill and is on track to do so, but just as the tank is not the right tool for every situation, neither is the wheeled AFV.

There are about 25,000 MBT in service with potential adversaries around the world, with some nations procuring both upgrade kits and completely new designs. Such as Russia’s recent T14. While wheeled vehicles have come some way to closing the gap between them and tanks only a few have the ability to mount 120mm guns and even then, most platforms only mount relatively small autocannons or 105mm guns at most. While tanks are progressing on to even larger guns such as 130mm. Further still, a wheeled vehicle will never be capable of taking the ever-increasing wait of armour on modern vehicles.

A Challenger 2 during Exercise Prairie Lightning.

This will become ever more important with the increasing risk of a conflict with a major power. Even if war were not to occur, in order to continue our conventional deterrent, it is important that we can demonstrate a viable threat to any possible aggressor. As such we will continue to need heavy tracked AFV.

Tanks are certainly no longer the most important part of an army that they once were, nor can they resolve every issue. However, just as a good builder has multiple tools for multiple jobs, the military must be able to respond to any threat and have the tools to do so. Therefore, if the British Army wants to remain relevant on the wide spectrum of the modern battlefield it is crucial it maintains as many conventional assets as possible, for whatever the future brings. This includes heavy armoured forces and tanks.

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Cam
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Cam

We probably haven’t got that many left now anyway! A Token Force at best!

RobW
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RobW

227 of which half are in use and deployable relatively quickly. I’d say that is the minimum credible MBT force. We either need to upgrade them all, which seems to be a waste of money given their age, or replace. If we replace then the M1 would seem the obvious choice.

peter wait
Guest
peter wait

Doubt half of any countries tanks would be fully fit, think a lot of leopards parked up waiting for parts and upgrade as the Germans don’t want to spend the money!

Adrian
Guest
Adrian

Would be a major shame to do away with an icon like the Challenger, and replace it with a tank as common as the M1.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

The way things are going, we may not have a choice? The M1 gives the UK a better longterm solution for our MBT fleet.

Simon Lees
Guest
Simon Lees

What upgrades do they need? I’ve always viewed them as being pretty much sorted with a good combat record. There must a limit as to what can be done with any tank nowadays to improve them. If they are life expired, just build some new ones to the same design rather than spending years and huge amounts of money developing a new version.

Lordtemplar
Guest
Lordtemplar

Sensors, gun and engine for starter

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

What’s wrong with the sensors, gun and engine? If, say 125 of the current tank were made 100% shipshape what could that fleet enable us to do but not do…. and what could we do if they were upgraded? Just asking…

Dern
Guest
Dern

The really big issue with the gun is that it uses different ammunition to the rest of NATO, which means a) that when the US and Germany develop a round we don’t get it and b) production of ammunition is much more expensive.

This is a bigger problem than just replacing the gun though, since CR2’s turret isn’t designed to fit US and Ger Ammunition, so requires a whole new turret.

Christopher Smith
Guest
Christopher Smith

Unfortunately, the factory that built Challenger 2 (and all it’s predecessors) is now a housing estate.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

A token force of 130 plus updated Ch3 is better than none at all Cam.

The army is restructuring into 2 Armoured Infantry Brigades remember, that is just 2 Armoured Regiments. I think they are Type 56 Regiments at the moment?

Why would we need hundreds and hundreds for just 2 Regiments and the ATR at Bovington?

I agree we should not dispense with the Tank, but our numbers are small in that area anyway.

Lets concentrate on the RN, RAF and Intelligence as the priority.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I should really add BATUS to that.

BB85
Guest
BB85

I agree our focus needs to be on the RN and RAF, it makes sense due to our geographic location. Poland and Germany really need to make up the vast bulk of heavy armour in Russia to counter Russia. I’m guessing that’s why the mod wants to abondon the mbt as its a huge investment for just 150 units if we could order an additional 500 boxer to cover indirect fire.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

We should keep our current minimum MBT force level, withdraw from Germany. Leave them to defend themselves. Army size and strength really is already at what could be considered a “minimum” level. The RN however and RAF is where we need to invest lions share of defence budget. Need at least 10 type 31s. A follow on order for 2 to 3 type 2 Astute class , an anti ship missile fit for RN surface fleet and I would add cruise missiles to the armoury of the surface fleet. LRASM fits the bill nicely. RAF/ FAA should fully realise the… Read more »

Palaboran
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Palaboran

While you are busy shopping would you get me a dozen eggs and a pint of milk.

julian1
Guest
julian1

that made me laugh

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Is this not just a symptom of a government run by Cummings the unelected criminal? Basically he seems to be under the impression cyber warfare wins actual wars or that the UKs threats are cyber in origin. The minute the British army goes into combat against a peer level opponent with MBTs is the minute we painfully realise why we need them. I wouldn’t upgrade Challenger but instead go for a new build tank using the very latest in armour and material science. Perhaps with a hybrid electric diesel or all electric powertrain. I dont think the Abrahms tank is… Read more »

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

Absolutely Daniele, we must not lose the MBT from the British Army at any cost.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Yeah it’s far better than none atall Daniele, and if we were cutting numbers and adding capability in numbers of say atack choppers than that’s ok but we cut cut cut and get nothing else.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I know, it’s so frustrating.

George Amery
Guest
George Amery

Hi folks hope all are well, just caught up with this article. Yes fully agree Daniele. Also the argument is currently, and has surfaced over recent years about the UK having no land boarder to protect as we did when we faced off the former Warsaw Pact, forming part of the BAOR. These days are well gone. However, it is true that the MBT is still a worthy component to have, and looks that way for some years to come. There may be occasions when we may have to deploy overseas, and to have some MBT’s would help, however, I… Read more »

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

And how many T14s do the Russians have? I suggest virtually none.
The future of the tank is up for grabs and to spend money adapting an old one seems pointless. We just need keep a training unit and mothball the rest.

Our NATO role should air power to help dominate the battlefield.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Russia’s t90 is a match for c2 plus China is advancing with tank designs and is going to flood the market with cheap tanks much like Russia used to currently our tank needs either total renovation or buy a new tank

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

I very think we should ask the South Koreans to build our next MBT.

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

How good are they? Are China going to sell state of the art armour? Aren’t the west intelligence going to be able to check out such tanks once sold.

As for T14, it’s a moot point if a 3 man tank is effective.

The T90 entered service in 1993. Based on T80, itself an improved T72.

The Russians were going to build over 2000. They are aiming for about 130 now.

peter french
Guest
peter french

WEll buy the Chinese tank if its cheap , we buy most of everything else so why not. A couple of red stars on the turret of course
Trouble the Hand book is in Chinese but we could carry a Chinaman in the turret to read out instructions . Just a thought

Harry
Guest
Harry

This is something I coverd in another part of my dissertation. Although in short as imagined by SDR 2015 I would agree.

David Barry
Guest
David Barry

Ditch Chally, buy Leopards to enable better interoperability and improved commonality with the new European Army.

(Taxi!)

RobW
Guest
RobW

Helmet on and dig a foxhole! Why not the M1? I’d say commonality with the US is more desirable.

Sean
Guest
Sean

Agreed, commonality with our closest ally would seem sensible.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

The M1 may be our only viable option longterm?

Bloke down the pub
Guest
Bloke down the pub

The USMC are divesting themselves of the M1s.

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

To become more manoeuvrable and return to their ‘island hopping’ tactics of WW2 – As opposed to a lack of capability in the M1 I believe though.

Caribbean
Guest
Caribbean

Indeed – the USMC see responsibility for deploying US heavy armour moving to the US Army, while they concentrate on creating mobile A2AD bubbles as they move from island to island

David Barry
Guest
David Barry

What second hand options are there and are there any Abrams available.

Serious hat on, Leopards are probably the way to go if any are still available.

Sean
Guest
Sean

Why would we go for the Leopard? A tank with inferior armour to the Challenger 2.
We seem to be modelling our limited forces on the USMC, so it will be interesting to see what they do.
If the USA is looking to design a new MBT then cooperate with them. It will probably be the last manned MBT before armoured UGVs take over the role.

Watcherzero
Guest
Watcherzero

USMC are ditching all their armour and focusing on infantry and portable AA weapons. Their argument is airpower will cover the anti-armour role but you want to be able to bring your AA weaponry right to the front rather than relying on units to the rear, particularly in an island hopping campaign against China.

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

As we sold our Harrier force cheap for spares to support the USMC, perhaps they can sell us a good number of M1s cheaply!

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

Yes.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Thanks Sean. Agree re Leopard 2. Its glass jawed and proven to lack standing power in war against ISIS in syria . How many challengers were knocked out by IEDs and ATGWs in Iraq? Vs entire squadron Turkish Leopard 2s destroyed in 15 minutes in Syria vs ISIS forces

Monty
Guest
Monty

I don’t know why people keep saying we need to buy leopards, where are they going to come from? There are no more 2nd hand Leopard 2s that can be purchased and upgraded cheaply. We well and truly missed the boat when the Germans and Dutch sold off their surplus, any Leopard 2 would have to be a new build units. The Americans have lots of M1s we could probably get cheaply but they will represent a downgrade in terms of protection and the costs of running the gas turbines will be prohibitively expensive and putting further strain on the… Read more »

David Barry
Guest
David Barry

Go on. Detail the u-t-d current Abrams that we could buy?

The Upgrade work funded for Challenger has lessons for the Leo.

Let’s grab the opportunity and merge the designs.

James M
Guest
James M

Doesn’t the export M1 use a Diesel engine rather than a gas turbine? Suggests to me that there’s scope to refit some USMC surplus M1s with an engine better suited to our needs.

Harry
Guest
Harry

There are hundreds of M1 available surplus from the DOD.

David Barry
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David Barry

Of which MK?

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

I’m not sure but I know many have been upgraded. Their certainly m1a1 with the 120mm.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Seeing as the USMC are planning to relinquish their M1’s,and the UK Armed forces are generally thought to be working closely with the USMC in the future an obvious solution is at hand.

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

The Americans constantly cycle their M1 fleets through rebuild and upgrade to as new condition.

We could buy a fleet of 225 surplus US M1’s, upgraded to the latest build standard, for a fraction of the price of getting shafted by BAE Systems Chally 2 upgrade, that would still have an increasingly obsolete main gun….

We can share parts and support with our closest partner.

It’s a no brainer really…

I wasn’t convinced of the need for MBT capability, I am now, but only at 225, below that number, ownership becomes of questionable use and utility.

Bill
Guest
Bill

That’s 4 regiments worth and we still have around 130 in storage. The price per unit for an upgrade is ridiculously high. Complete and utter bollox to be frank. To talk of Of the as obselete is insulting. Still the best protected tank in the world. Its never been fast enough though but a new engine, target acquisition enhancement should not be difficult, or expensive to achieve. The gun is a problem but the longest tank kill on record belies that. We will likely only deploy armour with at least one ally, maybe more. Collective numbers! If we turn up… Read more »

700 Glengarried Men
Guest
700 Glengarried Men

is the gun the issue or is it the fact that no new ammo has been developed, surely it would be cheaper to look into this than develop a whole new system,

Dern
Guest
Dern

Kind of both. The Challengers Turret is not designed to fit NATO one piece ammunition (current CR2 uses 2, technically three, piece ammunition.)
Buying a 120mm smoothbore off Germany and sticking it into a CR2 is relatively cheap and easy, but then you still would need Britsih 2 Part ammunition (which is in short supply and expensive, and doesn’t benefit from the long term R&D the Germans and Americans are putting into their rounds).
So new gun will realistically mean new turret to fit it’s ammunition into.

peter wait
Guest
peter wait

Abrams with conventional diesel engine would be better choice, Americans have best spare parts supply chain due to their numbers!

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

God no way. Leopard 2 has proven to be glass jawed in actual combat vs ISIS in Syria. Ever read the post combat report of the squadron of Turkeys Leopard 2s destroyed in Syria by a bunch of bandits who simply approached. Fired a load of RPGs and ATGW and in 15 minutes destroyed 16 leopard 2s. Report is widely circulated and available on the internet.

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

But these Leopard 2s were 2A4 versions, of Cold War vintage really the equivalent to Challenger 1s.
Plus they were used in with pretty hopeless tactics.
The latest Leopard is the 2A7.

Dern
Guest
Dern

Their use is key. Pretty sure CR2’s would not have fared much better if we empoyed them the way the turks used their Leopards.

peter wait
Guest
peter wait

Unarmoured ammo stowage in hull on 2A4 versions is a weak point, cost of buying A2 and upgrading would be similar to CR2 upgrade. CR2 has better suspension so performs better off-road , Dorchester armour sill best composite. So better to support UK industry and jobs.

Dern
Guest
Dern

Congratulations, everything you said is completely unrelated to anything I was saying.

peter wait
Guest
peter wait

Bet you are never wrong !

Grant
Guest
Grant

Upgrading the challengers will cost less than eat out to help out!
Not sure why we don’t make a brand new tank.. Leopards sell very well as there’s no modern alternative: surely the investment in a new tank with 130mm (or how about 127mm to align to the RN) and an unmanned turret like the t14 would find a number of new customers and in defence procurement terms would be very cheap…..

expat
Guest
expat

Its something UK is very poor at, we need to turn defence RnD/spend into a viable product. Yes we export a lot but we’ve missed the boat on so many opportunities and other countries are now reaping the rewards and we are buying foreign when we could have been exporting.

Grant
Guest
Grant

Completely agree: or we over specify so that only a few country’s would ever be interested (compare sales of 50 or so Lynx Wildcats with 1000s of Aw139s for examples)

But surely the R&D would be minimal!?

BB85
Guest
BB85

Yeah, I get the pression Leonardo always pushed their Italian Helecopters more on the export market and only pushed the wildcat to the UK. If the aw139 contains UK engines and a lot of UK sensors I actually don’t mind I think to much focus is put on final assembly.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Interesting to see how France and Germany are working on a new main battle tank. Upgrading Challenger and an increase in the number of Apache Helicopters might be the better option for the UK’s future strike brigades??

France Tests Huge 140mm Tank Gun As It Pushes Ahead With Germany On A New Tank Design

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26170/france-tests-huge-140mm-tank-gun-as-it-pushes-ahead-with-germany-on-a-new-tank-design

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Unfortunately with a market fludded with surplus Abrams and Leopards we wouldn’t be able to offer a tank at a competitive price. Theres no country which would want such a modern tank that wouldn’t want to produce it itself.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Grant. Agree totally. Build a new tank. Challenger 3 using the UKs world renowned inventors, engineers, material scientists. Leopard 2 is glass jawed. Abrahms is a downgrade in terms of combat resilience and standing power.
We should not be discarding our MBT capability.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

We are not just talking about a battle tank here, we are also focusing on the political poignancy of such a beast. Britain can not ditch the MBT and expect to be seen as a key player in any conventional land operation. Not being capable of fielding a battle tank relegates us to light armour operations, and the possibility of not sharing key command? Currently, British heavy armour is being deployed abroad and the disposition of armour is the right balance. Even if the UK can only field a hundred CH2, that is preferable to being pushed off the battle… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Well, not if we get serious about matching naval sub-surface-air investment to our knowledge base.

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

I do not see any logic in that. How many aircraft carriers do Germany and Poland have. What interest do they have in protecting Norway and Sweden? We do and we have the capability. And we have the need to protect the North Sea and North Atlantic.

Waddi
Guest
Waddi

I have to admit when I read the following article I had a small bet with myself that the MoD would think about doing the same. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/32703/marines-to-radically-remodel-force-cutting-tanks-howitzers-in-favor-of-drones-missiles The reality is though that having spent a hundreds of millions on the Challenger LEP and Warrior upgrades (the Times article also suggests Warrior will go as well) getting rid of complete Armoured formations on the same basis as the USMC would require a heavy investment elsewhere. HIMARS isn’t cheap (not far off the cost of a Leopard) drones aren’t cheap either. Also the USMC seems to be tasked with a very specific… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

The problem per say is not the main battle tank. The problem is that the army, or the M O D or both seem lost. We are in the process of re organising a re organisation brought about by a re organisation! We have old tanks not fit for purpose, the Warrior needing a major upgrade, the “I don’t which way to go” strike brigades with tracks and wheels and thousands of other vehicles that are used for what exactly. As a nation we are trying to do too much with the limited cash that the politicians , sorry Dominic… Read more »

Harold
Guest
Harold

I thinkyou’ll find the ‘global Britain’ guff was part of the disinformation campaign to get the gullible to vote Brexit. There is no hope that there will be a ‘global Britain’. It is a hark back to the past to appeal to certain people.

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

I don’t know who “certain people” are Harold but don’t you think you’ve missed the point somewhat. The conversation is about protecting ourselves and being available to assist our allies.

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

I was hoping nobody was going to reply, Geoff. Seems the best answer for the future, perhaps?
Regards

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Gavin sorry I always reply to Harold, although i know ignoring his chuff is the best way, but I do feel sorry for him, and do try my best to educate him on military matters, even though I know he is just a sad lonely troll. I will take myself to the back of the smoking shelter and have a word with myself……

Harold
Guest
Harold

I always try to reply to you too Airborne despite the problems you face. But it’s difficult sometimes as your posts rarely last long enough to respond sometimes. How’s the bedsit these days? Still damp and mouldy? You should try getting a real job, earning some money and investing in residential property. So much more rewarding that marching round in circles and digging holes in the ground whilst shouting bang, bang, you’re dead.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

There there, it’s ok, no one thinks any less of you not making the grade, not everyone is capable of joining up. You made up for it watching all those war films.

Harold
Guest
Harold

How are you going to manage when all your tanks are scrapped? Ah yes, play with your Airfix ones. I going to enjoy reading your posts when the cuts come, as they will. Still, you can always admire the armies of other countries like France, Germany and Poland and even little Sweden and dream your dreams I suppose.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Your still angry at only reading about others achievements in the military. It can be sad yes, it’s understandable but please get over it, I’m sure you had a useful life…well moments….ok moment!

Harold
Guest
Harold

The penulitimate line of your initial posting mentions ‘Global Britain.’ I didn’t initiate the comment, you did.

I say again, ‘global Britain’ is a bit of guff put out by Cummings and team to offer hope to those voting Brexit. I have seen so many of these ‘catch phrases’ in my lifetime and am always amazed people continue to be taken in by them.

‘You’ve never had it so good’, ‘White heat of tchnology’, a ‘new Britain’, ‘cool Britannia’. ‘Big Society’, ‘Get Brexit Done’, ‘global Britain’ and so on. All meaningless nonsense put out by politicians.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Here’s another catchphrase for you, “join the army see the world” shame you didnt bother, you could have had an experienced input into a military debate, instead of the usual troll civvy chuff you normally froth.

Harold
Guest
Harold

Ah, you’re back. So many of your posts disappear that it is a job to keep up with you. I would never join the army. Too old now and they could never have paid me enough to get dirt under my fingernails or march around in circles. I’ve done rather well in a real job and in property thanks.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Delete “never” insert “failed but wish I didn’t”! Oh dear how sad never mind!

Harold
Guest
Harold

Good heavens, your posts disappear before my eyes. Bit like your army really. And your navy with its 3 frigates and 6 dodgy destroyers and airforce too. A defence force like Ireland’s will soon come your way. The sooner the better, After all, Dominic approves and you lose. I bet he gets his way.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

More effort on your replies please, all very similar, limited content and subject matter knowledge. More effort required for next replies please, 2 our of 10, can do better.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

@H.
I am sure You met Cummings in Moscow!
He’s supposed to be Your comrade in crime!!

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

OK, Harold, you’ve earned a response based on the disconnect between your longevity and basic democratic analysis. Most people of any voting age will have soon learnt to disregard soundbites from politicians, whether that’s money saved for the NHS or any of the other ‘guff’ spouted by all parties. In fact, there’s a legitimate argument that the group most deluded by the phrases are the politicians themselves, since they seem to think that the electorate take them to heart. What the electorate look for is a party that approaches closest to their overall requirements, which includes the leader when even… Read more »

Harold
Guest
Harold

I have learned one lesson in my time. Never trust a politician of whatever party. I gave up voting a long time ago. A complete waste of time. I merely return the postal ballot marked ‘none of the above’ for Westminster elections. All I have, I’ve worked for and I am very comfortably off even though I shall have to fork out for a TV licence if I continue bothering with the TV and the only ones who have helped me have been my doctor and a good accountant. The ones who will benefit will be my grandchildren.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Unusual, again for a Businessman!

Herodotus
Guest

For the first time Harold, I have some sympathy with your post!

Harold
Guest
Harold

Thanks. I’ve seen a lot in my 70 + years and watched as so many fall for the nonsense put out by politicians.

Herodotus
Guest

It is always best to maintain a healthy scepticism as far as our political brethren are concerned. I have just been watching the BBC mini-series on the fall of Jeremy Thorpe; feet of clay!

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

No. Wrong.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

The only guff. Is coming from you dear old Putin Bott Harold. Go back to shovelling coal in the Kremlin.

Harold
Guest
Harold

I have no need to. I have too much residential property here, thanks. But thanks for your kind if not predictably silly comment.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

3 sheds and an allotment don’t count as residential Iqbal.

Harold
Guest
Harold

Goof heavens. You’re back. After a whole batch of your last postings disappeared, I thought you’d gone. Still, never mind. I live in hope.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Oh dear you may find your posts and therefore my replies to your racist and rather abusive terminology, calling someone untermenschen is the reason your posts disappear as people flag it up to the mods! Oh dear selling allotments didn’t teach you much, but as the good old WD used to say, oh dear how sad never mind.

Harold
Guest
Harold

Rest assured, I have a little more than a few allotments. I shall so enjoy reading your posts when the big cuts come, as they will. You just fail to keep up with the armies of real countries don’t you? Even airborne, how very outmoded. Many parachutists left are there? Cut, cut, cut little corporal. You should have had a real job.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Gosh, can a person really be so anti military and then blame others for their own failures. Don’t worry, it’s ok, no one thinks less of you.

dave12
Guest
dave12

So you are Russian Haroldski? If so with cuts being made and even if Scotland go independent the UK will still be a richer nation than Russia with its ever decreasing population and life expectancy age of 60, your mafia state dependant on oil /gas sales is hardly something to boast about, and its not like Russian culture is a world beating export,so sit down and know your place.;)

Harold
Guest
Harold

Yes, of course I’m Russian. My office is right next to Putin’s and we have coffee together each morning. This website is so important that the President of Russia pays me to monitor it. He finds the postings here are a good example of an exercise in futility, you see. Meanwhile, I think the UK is probably more concerned about it’s £2 trillion and rising national debt than the life expectancy of people living in Russia, don’t you? I mean, I am now well into my 70s but I find Red Square so chilly at times.

dave12
Guest
dave12

Haroldski the differences is Putin spends and priorities on the military which sums up Russia’s people dire conditions and he tends to hide Russia’s debt and anything else negative , advantages of Putin controlling all Russia’s media, you come across as a bit simple ,but troll on in bitterness lol.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

@H.
You don’t seem have the intelligence to understand that Japan has two and half times the debt ratio as the UK, and thay are still ordering more F-35s and carriers.
So if Britain’s debt is about 38% of Japan’s debt, so we can afford of what we got! How come you are a businessman if you didn’t understand this?

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Aside but of some relevance, I see Boris was at H&W (Appledore). Dumb thing to do if Gov not prepared to invest there, at least in line with some maritime tech whether naval or commercial.
Regards

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

Take your point on your first reply Gavin. As for Appledore it’s great news here in Devon, particularly for people in the north who have taken a pasting in the last few years.

Herodotus
Guest

Yes it is interesting that he turned up there on the day that new ownership is announced. Hopefully, this isn’t just a cynical photo op for Bojo and that appropriate orders are in the pipeline. Too small a yard for RFA vessels, but could build modules as it has done in the past! It would be great news for employment in the West Country!

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

I hope Appledore can get something. I like the place. We try to regularly go across the river at Braunton/ Croyde.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

I noted that and was hoping an order for MRSS ships and a further batch of at least 5 more type 31s was going to be shortly coming.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

I’m sorry, but at no point has anyone said, politician or otherwise that ‘global Britain’ means spending shit loads more on defence. We aren’t re-creating the Empire just because we are leaving the EU.

RobW
Guest
RobW

Exactly. Silly catchphrase it might be but it has never been about Empire MkII or policing the world. Its about setting our own laws, trading with international partners, and doing our bit as a wealthy (relatively) nation and permanent member of the UNSC.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Exactly. Nailed it mate 👍

Derek
Guest
Derek

I always saw Global Britain being about becoming a global trading nation again, rather than the military. Although once we do, we will still need a global military to protect those interests.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Hi Derek. We do still have a global military, it’s just spread a bit thin these day’s. But very few countries can do what we take for granted. 👍

Yovi
Guest
Yovi

I totally agree, i think we may be about to see another disastrous emasculation of our already much weakened armed forces for short term politically gain, i.e an illusory saving, with no thought to the effects on our security, influence, the morale of the forces and economic harm via a loss in orders, jobs in both the services but the myriad support organisations and companies. As has been noted elsewhere the political class seem to see the armed forces as nothing more then a piggy bank, to be raided for cash when desired will not a thought given to the… Read more »

expat
Guest
expat

Its an interesting discussion. Its easier to get emotive on the topic I guess. If a decision was taken to scrap a capability then the question is what’s the plan to close the gap. Not saying this is the solution but the US is looking to improve artillery accuracy with smart ordinance and extend its range to over 100km. Is something like this part of the mix that will allow the UK to remove the MBT? Probably not, its probably a cost issue with little thought going into the process and how alternative technologies can close the MBT gap.

Supportive Bloke
Guest
Supportive Bloke

I don’t want to be snippy but I do with he would proof read the stuff he posts.

I appreciate that I am often posting from a phone and make typos.

This is a pretty serious subject and mixing up “weight” and “wait”…..

This is a professional calling card for the authour…..

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Hi sorry for the miss spelling. I do suffer severely from both dyslexia and dyspraxia so my English skill leave a lot to desire. But it definitely something I will place closer attention to in the future. Thank you.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Ah, Harry, there you are.

I assumed it was indeed you who wrote the article, there cannot be too many H B’s around.

As for spelling, those of us who have been around UKDJ long enough know about the dyslexia as you’ve mentioned it before, and ignore it.

Well done. Nice work.

Harry
Guest
Harry

Thank you for the words of support. Although “,Supportive Blokes” critics are both fair and reasonable, so I’m not at all upset by them. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Agree Harry. I’ve got dyslexia as well. Fully disclose it as often as needed but you still get comments from the uneducated, impatient, intolerant who seem to think our spelling errors are a sign of low intellect and uneducated background. Reality is I’ve got an MSc work as a senior clinician in the NHS and working towards a PhD. Dyslexia is only a disability in the eyes of those not fully conversant in the concept of see the person not the disability.
Keep up the good work. Debate and healthy banter is always appreciated.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Thank you.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Not a problem on UKDJ Harry, keep posting 👍👍👍

Harry
Guest
Harry

Thank you.

Supportive Bloke
Guest
Supportive Bloke

Harry I’m glad you are posting on UKDJ. The article is interesting has started a reasonable debate on here. As I said in my comment above, complete with typo, I’m not trying to be snippy. I too do struggle with forms of spelling blindness and sometimes have to look up obvious words. And that is in spite of have a science PhD. So I don’t associate spelling with other things. In my professional persona I just have to be very careful to check material before pressing send. I was taken aside by my Prof 20 years ago and told to… Read more »

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Thank you for the kind words. As mentioned its certainly an area I need to improve on.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Good article and absolutely correct in your summary. Don’t worry about dyslexia, I suffered quite a bit with it, sorted it out somewhat, my daughter suffered it as well (always made light of it, her family nickname was trigger lol) but is currently a Sgt in Essex constabulary and doing bloody well……keep up the good posts and articles mate!

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.

Gavin Gordon
Guest
Gavin Gordon

Worth bearing in mind that all NATO tanks are of a similar vintage. We still have time to improve the erstwhile excellent Ch2 to keep a ‘seedcorn plus’ skill set. We’ll need to start building soon enough in any case, if nationalites are not very careful.

BB85
Guest
BB85

It’s interesting, I can se the rational for the uk being more focused on medium armour considering how far away we are geographically from Russia and the Middle East. Mobility for the UK is key. However it does bring into question the purpose of Ajax. They will basically be performing recce for other nato members armoured divisions as we won’t have any of our own.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

This, shows the incompetence and lack of vision, strategy, if HMG ever had any, of this whole affair.

Ajax was procured to provide armoured recc for our then 3 Armoured Brigades. Before “Strike” even existed.

Lack of money has then prompted them to shove Ajax into Strike to provide firepower, leaving the Armoured brigades bereft.

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

I would suggest it’s the Army and the incompetent MoD who have messed up Ajax and then buggered up the Striker concept. The army seem obsessed with having a “Division” to do ‘proper’ war fighting. In fact we need flexible sized Strike brigades, that support allies as and when, with killer artillery and good air support. Flexible in that they can support allies world wide and follow on in after Marines and Paras. This can still be used in Europe, and we could regulary train with the Baltics and Scandinavians. I know I am only an old man sat on… Read more »

Gary
Guest
Gary

I see there is a medium Main Battle tank proposal based on the ASCOD/Ajax platform – ASCOD MMBT Medium Main Battle Tank – https://militaryleak.com/2018/07/12/ascod-mmbt-medium-main-battle-tank/. Would these not make a good replacement? Commonality of parts, probably get 2 in a C17 etc…

TrevorH
Guest
TrevorH

I’m not sure I see them as any sort of real tank, but they out to be good at supporting other mechanized infantry fighting vehicles. Likewise putting a big gun on some Boxers. What we need is long range mobile artillery.

Ulya
Guest
Ulya

It has been interesting to read the comments, lots of emotions involved. In war between Russia and the west, if I remember right, it will take about 6 or 7 days to get your tanks to Baltic states, please correct me if I’m wrong. My thinking is, you eventually get them there, your numbers are so small they will be destroyed/damaged within a day or 2, then what? You cannot replace any loss, you don’t make tank anymore, maybe the americans give you some if they can but then you need time to learn how to operate them, by then… Read more »

dave12
Guest
dave12

Russian made tanks have not exactly excelled in battle over the years so I guess the thought process was that the west had Superior tanks to make up for the small numbers, but the numbers are just too small for now.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Ultra. Please remember we do have some Chally 2s in reserve but not withstanding that Russia should expect to lose 6 to 10 tanks for every Chally 2 damaged in combat. I wouldn’t like to see any Russian tank formation being daft enough to approach a formation of C2s. Expect to be wiped out from 2 to 5 miles away before you even see what is shooting at you. Then even if some C2s are damaged, they will be repaired and put back into the frontline. Russian derivative tanks have proven rather useless in recent wars. T14? Let’s see. I… Read more »

RobW
Guest
RobW

I think that is a tad optimistic. The longest confirmed kill by a tank was 2.9 miles in the desert by a Chally in 1991, which isn’t the terrain we would be fighting in. Add overwhelming numbers of armour and air support to their longer range artillery and we would be facing a whole heap of trouble. That assumes we could get there fast enough to land our forces at all.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

RobW – I tend to agree,for an Armoured Force to be in the Fight it has to get to the Fight,the Russians seem to have a lot of Firepower to bring to Theatre we might be out of the equation before any T-whatever ventures into a Challenger’s Gunsight.

Finney
Guest
Finney

As you say Ulya, it’s all quite emotional, it’s more about prestige and pre-conceptions rather than modern-day military realities. Mr Bell I’m afraid I disagree, CH2 sights and imaging are really quite dated now and many upgraded Russian tanks have better. Although I don’t think the gun is past it quite yet, fairly sure CHARM3 will still mission-kill almost anything that rumbles. So lets say Russia rolls into the Baltics (why?! 80% hostile population, no strategic or resource advantage, “Oh look the Baltic fleet is still stuck in the Baltic”) – Ok I won’t go into all that…. But let’s… Read more »

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Why not preposition CH2 in Poland and Lithuania?

dave12
Guest
dave12

Sorry finny but did you serve as a ch2 crewman ? I have a family member who was a gunner and he still thinks without the upgrade they are certainly still a match for T- NATO cannon fodder Russian tanks, lol.

Andy
Guest
Andy

Hi Ulya, yes you are right. Apache would be better.

andy
Guest
andy

they always say the modern battlefield but what is the modern battlefield,it will still be one army fighting another,granted we did not use tanks in Afghan for whatever reason but we did deploy them in Bosnia,as un then NATO and it made a massive difference,yes warrior was out there first but that was to carry out patrols and a few of them were attacked,i remember doing a prisoner exchange at white fang when a load of old russian tanks appeared,but as soon as they saw the 3 challengers sat there they sharp did a U turn,the very presence of the… Read more »

Lordtemplar
Guest
Lordtemplar

I can understand ditching Warrior since the combination of Ajax (add a 40mm + ATGM) and different versions of Boxers can fulfill a similar role. But MBT is still irreplaceable for ground forces. OK they are overkill for insurgents, but so is most of the stuff in the inventory. The MoD is there to protect the nation’s defence and interests in many different scenarios (even if low probability), not just cat and mouse games with insurgents. Missiles are great but they are not cheap and cannot replace conventional firepower in sustained operations, unless you have a money tree. Challenger needs… Read more »

OldSchool
Guest
OldSchool

I’ll stick out on a limb. If Chally had to be replaced I’d seriously consider the Merkerva. Top tank and made by a country with a limited industrial base. Easy to put together and maintain I was told by a senior tankie years ago. Leopard not bad but M1 is gas guzzling and has a big thermal signature….

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Merkava or Korean K2? Both are probably nearing same resilience level as C2 but more modern

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

Unseen, or perhaps under appreciated, we have stepped into a new era, one as dramatic as the change between sailing ships and the steam driven ships screw, but are still carrying the lumber of the past and seem to want to carry on doing so. I suggest this ‘re-think’ and the question mark over F-35 are linked by a dawning appreciation that fairly soon a lot of what we have and others have is going to be as obsolete as the horse drawn stage coach. Countries habitually prepare to fight the last war. In Europe Putin is a threat to… Read more »

dave12
Guest
dave12

Shocking decision to withdraw all our tanks in fact its criminal , reminds me of the thatcher government defence cuts before the Falklands war, I actually feel embarrassed and ashamed , major cuts for short term thinking as always.

Caspian237
Guest
Caspian237

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be whether tanks have a place on the modern battlefield but instead whether British forces have a place on a battlefield requiring tanks. While all aspects of NATO are in the interests of all NATO member states, it must be true that each member has its own special areas of concern which should be catered to first. In a time of stretched budgets I think it would make more sense for NATO members with large land borders (and who are vulnerable to ground assault) to spend their 2% of GDP on more tanks while Britain spends… Read more »

Lordtemplar
Guest
Lordtemplar

Only reason UK is 2% is because it includes pensions. Do not delude yourself and think that other countries will just build tanks and not have an air force or navy. A country needs to be able to defend itself and not rely on NATO. Look at current tensions between NATO members in eastern med, between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus etc… NATO has done nothing. Cyprus should have been resolved decades ago. NATO can’t even enforce Lybian weapons embargo. NATO did nothing in Ukraine. Etc…. NATO is just there for to protect US interests and selling US weapons to NATO… Read more »

Caspian237
Guest
Caspian237

Britain isn’t unique in NATO members including pensions in the 2% target although British commentators often talk as if it is. In this instance then the 2% is relative and relevant. You’re correct, a country does need to be able to defend itself without NATO. In this case it should be obvious that the United Kingdom would require aircraft and warships in sufficient numbers to prevent a threat to British soil. Tanks and other armoured vehicles have a shorter gestation period that frigates, destroyers and the like so it is better to have more of what you really need in… Read more »

Lordtemplar
Guest
Lordtemplar

The UK’s interest are not limited to the main island. Sorry you cannot see that. Hypothetically, it it is possible for Erdogan ro decide he wants all of Cyprus, the UK has a base there, how do you regain the lost ground, air and naval will not suffice especially with the proximity of Turkish mainland, Erdo just ordered more S400 systems who can easily cover that area as well as anti ship missiles that can be fired from the coast. Another hypothetical, the Suez is vital to UK interests. Ships alone cannot stop attacks from the Suez’s banks, you would… Read more »

Caspian237
Guest
Caspian237

I don’t doubt that tanks have their uses or that the UK’s interests are not limited to the main island. I can see that. However, the protection of the main island is the most important task of the armed forces. Being caught alone without sufficient naval and air forces is more significant than being caught alone without tanks. You have mentioned some scenarios which could of course happen but in all likelihood would not require Britain to act alone. We did act alone in the Falklands, tanks were not used and the operation would not have been possible without sufficient… Read more »

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

@Lordtemplar
I agree with you here.
Britain needs a spectrum of milltary capabilities.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

You have hit the nail on the head there. What do we really need, what do we want our Armed Forces to do over the next 20 years. We are stretched to thin trying to cover all bases currently. Id let the Germans and Poland cover tank numbers, and we concentrate on the capabilitys we could excel at. Carrier strike, anti submarine warfare, ISTAR, precision strike, air defence ect. anti terrorism/insurgency, and cyber defence/warfare. And the big one currently, Virus control. We have all now experienced how unconventional warfare could be so effective, and could bring a country to it’s… Read more »

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Britain indeed has less need for tanks then many other European powers. But Britain’s needs are not confined to NATO and NATO is not confined to Europe.

Caspian237
Guest
Caspian237

Yes but it seems that our non-NATO and non-European needs are aligned with with the UK’s intimate defence needs. Escorts for the Persian Gulf and seemingly now warships for the Indo-Pacific.

Dern
Guest
Dern

This doesn’t work. Collective defence relies on other nations coming to your aid when you need it, and Britain going “well we’re focusing on the Navy so good luck fighting in eastern europe.” doesn’t cut it for a number of reasons.

Caspian237
Guest
Caspian237

I think it would be more like, “good luck fighting in Eastern Europe and I hope you wish us good luck in our equally essential task of securing the Northern flank and the vital communication lines across the Atlantic.”

Dern
Guest
Dern

It won’t be. The Atlantic is a rear echlon, side show compared to the main event on the easter flank. Avoiding the Eastern Flank does us no favours and re-introduces the myth that “The British will fight to the last Australian, Canadian, Indian, Frenchman or Belgian.” Further abandoning the Eastern Flank means abandoning our seat at the table, both in deciding what course of action we want to influence NATO to go in, and potential peace treaties. YOU might not choose to see it that way (because you favour the secondary northern flank) but our Allies WILL see it that… Read more »

Caspian237
Guest
Caspian237

You’re probably right, I stand corrected. When there is fighting to be done I’m sure the allies will have opinions on where our forces would be better placed. Sadly, they are a little less opinionated when there is spending to be done.

Corin Vestey
Guest
Corin Vestey

Tanks are fine. Top of the armoured vehicle tree. But, we know that tanks without dismounted infantry and fires are non-viable. We knew that before the proliferation of ATGMs, we know they can be taken out by air.

We do need tanks but unless we can protect them and the infantry they rely on to operate from aviation and fires (including via our own fires) their utility is surely very limited, even before deployability is considered.

Gapping tanks to invest in GBAD and EW would be sensible. Deleting tanks for ‘tactical’ or even operational cyber would not.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Lack of firepower in the modern British Army is the problem whether it is artillery, main battle tanks or the total lack of a deployable, survivable, medium weight tank/armoured car with a 90-120mm gun. That is OK when up against a rabble armed with AKMs, RPGs & IEDs, but leaves UK forces exposed if they come up against a national army with hundreds, perhaps thousands of tanks.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Janes, 27 Aug 20, had an item saying the US Army is buying from BAE/GDLS a “light tank prototype”. $376 million for 12 Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF). Based on the Bradley. 23,580 kg with level 3 armour. 105mm gun with autoloader. Deployable firepower, is just what the British Army is missing at the moment. This or something like it, could be the modern day equivalent of all those Stuart/Chaffee tanks we got leaselend during WW2.

David
Guest
David

This is maybe a silly question but…. what is wrong with our MBT, I was under the impression that it had the best conventional armour available and that the 120mm gun was fit for purpose. I understand that we chose rifled barrel over smooth bore and so we have an ammo supply issue, but beyond that what’s the issue ?

Lordtemplar
Guest
Lordtemplar

Besides gun, you can add up to date combat management system and sensors for better situational awareness. Engine need some TLC as well, it is underpowered. There are other usefull protective upgrades such as jammers, APS, modular armor kits etc… there are not many tanks so it is best that they are up to date. It is not so much that Russia will invade Europe, but other places could kick off. Just look at Turkey trying to take over the eastern Med. UK needs Suez canal and has a base in Cyprus which could be in danger if Erdogan continues… Read more »

Daveyb
Guest
Daveyb

Ok, my two pennies worth. Not being a tanker, I cannot comment on its use from that perspective. There has been numerous debate on the problems of transporting MBTs leading to the drive of the self drive Strike Brigades. But the Army/MoD has as usual done it half-arsed and they are a composite light force with no punch. However, I have a number of friends who were and are still serving with Challenger 2s. Who are either proper tankers, i.e. RTR, Scots DG or REME. I have worked alongside Challenger 1s as a whipper snapper in Bosnia and 2s in… Read more »

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Thank you for your kind words. I’m really glad you enjoyed the article.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Hi Harry, I think the UK should retain MBT’s, but forward deploy at least around 150, the best place would be Poland.
I see the Pol’s have about a 1000 tanks. Not a great number being next door to a giant! I am sure the Pol’s would welcome a few more from a long term allie?

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Would certainly act as a significant deterrent. I think Poland is a good idea for a forwards presence, but due to more practical reasons it may not be feasible. Perhaps Germany is the better option. That being said I would personally prefer them based in the UK as i see Britains commitment being internationally. As such dedicating are force to a single continent wouldn’t be smart. Also by having are forces in the UK they would act as strategic reserve for NATO.

Dern
Guest
Dern

Agreed, having a forward presence is good. We should invest in infrastructure in Germany, Poland and/or the Baltics (if only we had that about 10 years ago). Maybe with equpiment pre-positioned but with units based back in the UK.
Simply because forward basing a unit in Europe means that they are effectively “committed” and withdrawing them to deploy on another mission is a political statement. the MoD needs to be able to deploy an Armoured brigade at short notice anywhere in the world, with the rest of 3 Div following quickly.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Also Harry, it would be much quicker to reinforce the Eastern frontline from the UK in an emergency, then from across the Atlantic.

Wayne
Guest
Wayne

Brilliant. I enjoyed reading that as much as the article.

A. Smith
Guest
A. Smith

We need to move towards fully unmanned and semi-autonomous tanks equipped with Brimstone, Martlet and Starstreak. The unmanned tanks would be able to defend themselves and use machine learning to identify and respond to threats and could be controlled from anywhere in the world.

The politicians, civil servants and MOD still have their heads stuck in the 90’s and are putting the security of our national at risk by their lack of progress and ambition.

Lordtemplar
Guest
Lordtemplar

Not sure AI is that advanced. Flying in the air with no obstacles and sensors to detect at long range is one thing, but on the ground it’s a totally different story. Still some years away before fully unmanned can be considered, and even then those systems would still be vulnerable to jamming, hacking etc… also those systems are not cheap, much cheaper to upgrade Chally 2 or develop a Chally 3 Secondly missiles are great but very expensive. This is not sustainable in prolonged engagements. Missiles also have shorter shelf lives. Old fashionned ammo is cheaper and can be… Read more »

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Sadly there will be no Challenger 3,the C2 will be the last in a long line of British designed and Built Tanks.

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

Not a capability we should lose, nor replace with more vulnerable, less able tanks. We’ve such a small number now we really must avoid losing any to cuts. Pity the proof reader was asleep, “wait of MBTs”.

Badrobot
Guest
Badrobot

The article misses the point. It’s not that anyone can say tanks have definitely had their day. It’s about what role will the UK play in coalition operations because they aren’t needed to defend the UK itself. Given the challenges facing the defence budget a good argument can be made for burden sharing, pooling of capabilities and specialisation by NATO members. The UK has unique strengths that need greater investment as part of our collective defence; strengths that will add more overall value to NATO in Europe and also be useful to the UK around the world.

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

The money for problem is that when it gets down and dirty, there’s nothing like a tank to sit there and hold the ground give take/give out the punishment and a challenger can do it better than most. Its incredibly short sited to even contemplate removing them from service. I know challenger 2 hasn’t had any real upgrades for years, but has it really fallen that far behind tanks that it was far ahead of a decade or 2 ago that it isn’t a fairly easy fix to give it an edge again as when it comes to potential foes… Read more »

DaveNBC
Guest
DaveNBC

Sorry, I couldn’t finish reading the piece such is the dismal grammar and spelling.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Harry has Dyslexia. Maybe forgive it, and read it as you know it is meant to be written?

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

thank you for the support.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

I’m sorry to hear that.

dan
Guest
dan

Always makes me laugh when the Berlin Wall came down and almost everyone said the Cold War is over and started to disarm. Those same people today, ie Merkel, ect don’t even recognize the threat Russia or China pose to the West…..

Herodotus
Guest

I’m sure that Merkel is aware of the geopolitical situation. Surprisingly, she may actually know more than you do!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins
Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Wrong thread i know, but thought id throw my 2 pence worths in about the F35 story. First off, this is only speculation, of which there is plenty before a defence review. But the number of 70 F35B’s maybe wouldn’t be to bad an outcome. We only ever had 16 Sea Harrier FA2’s in service across 2 front line sqns, and another 9 on the OCU. Once those where retired, we only had 48 Harrier GR7/9’s across 3 front line units, and the OCU and OEU in the active fleet. And you would have to go back a good few… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

I’d suggest that the requirement for the UK to have tanks needs context on who we would expect to use them against, what we are trying to achieve with their use, at what point in the conflict we would be able to deploy them and where. I would observe that an argument pointing to how many tanks exist in world is not a justification for the UK to have tanks, nor is a supposed league table of who is a tier 1 power based on whether they have tanks or not. Both arguments I’ve seen articulated elsewhere. Consider, if Russia… Read more »

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Thank you for the feedback. My argument was generally, although I can understand if it wasn’t clearly stated, that if Britain is to remain a significant international player it must maintain the conventional deterrent to do so. With the tank being a significant visual representation of this. For example take are allies in the middle east such as Qatar and Jordan, for us to maintain a strong alliance it would be beneficial if we maintain a warfigting force. Since they know it could come to their aid in time of conflict. Where as if they think we are neglecting are… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

I agree that the UK requires a significant conventional deterrent for both political and military reasons. But it has to be a credible one. If it takes too long to deploy, or if once deployed it is too vulnerable then it won’t be a deterrent. Your example countries perhaps help demonstrate this because we might deploy more capable and useful assets, much faster, to aid them than we could heavy armour. Wheeled AFV and precision fires could realistically be flown in, if we had to, using our C-17 and A400M, while only our C-17 can carry a single MBT. We… Read more »

Daveyb
Guest
Daveyb

From the Cold War doctrine. The UK’s based heavy brigades were supposed to be the mobile reserve for NATO. The British Army of the Rhine (BOAR) was supposed to be the trip wire. It was well known that if it did kick off, the vast majority of them wouldn’t have lasted past the first couple of days of conflict. Their job was to give as much hurt as possible and try to delay the onslaught from the combined forces of the Warsaw Pact in their sector. By holding them up at least by a couple of days would allow the… Read more »

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Hi Davey, much of what you wrote is IMO the challenge for the UK (and NATO) in providing the most effective counter to Russian heavy armour, regardless of whether the money is there or not. Nothing we (or NATO) are likely to do in heavy armour will offset the overall numbers of Russian tanks, even if many of those tanks are relatively old/low in capability versus state of the art and even if manned by conscripts lacking high levels of training. Our largest issue currently may actually be having enough missiles in inventory, especially if APS systems on the better… Read more »

Pete
Guest
Pete

You can have all the cyber capability you want and need (and should have) but at the end of the day if someone wants to come into your patch and is armed with intent to stay you need to have robust profile to deter or ability to shift if they do arrive. Either need to up arm the medium armour with tank killing missiles or match the capability faced ir udeally do both. Apache/hellfire and typhoon/Brimstone are great but limited numbers of both aircraft and missiles means a conflict with peer of any duration would soon leave everthing else vulnerable.

P

Billythefish
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Billythefish

Nice piece – but should have been proof read prior to publishing. Multiple spelling mistakes.

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

Thank you for the feedback back. Unfortunately I suffer from dyslexia and dyspraxia so my English skill and more so writing skills are certainly lacking. I had proof read the essay multiple times but obviously as you say some eras have come through. Its definitely an area I need to work on more and if I would be allowed back I definitely make sure its proof read by someone before hand. Thank you.

Darren hall
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Darren hall

I’m seeing a lot of healthy discussion on this page. Replace the Chal2 with M1’s? Do we need Tanks? should we upgrade? I’m ex Junior service, so my knowledge of the vehicles and the advantages of one over the other is limited to books and the internet. However, having seen first hand the effect on insurgents in Iraq when a Chal2 turned up to fight. And when Leopards were used against insurgents in Afghan, in my opinion, Yes, MBT’s do have a very real role in the modern British military arsenal. Both for its war fighting role and its moral… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

For me it comes down to whether this decision is a capability assessment or straight cost cutting. My feeling is for the types of wars that the UK could fight, i can’t think of a single realistic one where another ally wouldn’t be there to provide the heavy armor. I don’t think we have the strength in numbers now to directly take on any other nation on their home turf alone, and so if we went alone it would be a proxy war, like falklands where both sides were fighting at distance. As such if we drop the MBT and… Read more »

Ron
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Ron

Does the Brtish Army need MBTs well it depends on what we as a country want to do. MBTs for the British Army would be needed in the defence of Europe if Russia ever palyed stupid. MBTs would also be needed in Arabia if Iran made moves on the rest of the Arab world. So from that stand point 250 MBTs is a must, 150 forward deployed in Europe and 100 in Oman. Can we afford to develop a new MBT with only 250 needed, no so possibly we need to work with either Germany, France or Sweden to come… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

I suspect the most realistic near to peer war we would enter is either Israeli decides to push its luck (pretty likely to occur sooner or later) or a proxy war in Africa involving the west and china.

In both cases the US would be involved and our token number of tanks really wouldn’t matter.

TrevorH
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TrevorH

There is one country that uses tanks and knows how to use them, and in fact knows how to use them against unconventional and insurgency forces.

Namely the Merkeva.

This is i believe based on the Centurion. It’s designed to survivable. It can carry extra troops or wounded or equipment with its rear door. It would work with Warrior. A support weapon.

The design has been done, buy under licence, we can build it here. It is designed to be used against asymetric enemies which ought to be a bonus.

AlexS
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AlexS

Better, it has already APS integrated with fire control system, slaving the gun directly to the threat if option is selected.

No tanks of AFV can survive without APS in the future, this what make me believe that UK is not serious in land combat.

Ron
Guest
Ron

TrevorH, I agree the Merkeva IV is a fairly useful beast. It was as far as I understand a development of the Chieftain tank. Israel was involved in the Chieftain development but with the UK being more friendly to Jordan and some other Arabian countries the UK went alone. Isreal got a couple of the pre production models and off they went to design their own. We missed out on that one. Again I might be wrong but it appears that Israel is developing a new light/medium weight multi purpose AFV rather than a MBT for the future.

Wayne
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Wayne

I think it would be useful to understand how MBTs like Challenger 2 are used. All three remaining MBT regiments provide 14 CR2 in one Sqn to each of the Armoured Infantry Battalions. The Armoured Infantry Battalions provide one Armoured Infantry company in return. Armoured Infantry Battlegroups have two Armoured Infantry companys with 14 warrior each, they also have Support company with Anti Tank (based on 8 Warrior using a dismounted Javelin missile), Recce (based on 8 CVRT Simitar) and Mortor (based on Bulldog) platoons. The Armoured Battlegroups have two Sqn’s of Challenger 2, one or sometimes two Infantry companys,… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Interesting summery of the varied enablers joined with the teeth arms to make BGs.

Thank you.

Bob2
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Bob2

Thanks for the summary Wayne.

Do you know if it is always the same companies that the two infantry battalions donate to the armoured battle group? Same questions for the donated armour going to the infantry battle groups.

Just wondering how familiar these units would be with their new lines of command.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Wayne, I have and still like the Armoured BattleGroup concept and flexibility. I have argued on this site many times that the future replacement for Ocean/Albion/Bulwark should be a ship that can land a ABG over the beach with its own air support. Then we should have three of them. I do remember I was over seas at the time of the announcement that the UK was to build new carriers that I wrote to the MoD and suggested rather than a pure carrier we should build a 25-28knot 40,000ton+ LHDs so they could operate either in the carrier role… Read more »

Pacman27
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Pacman27

I think this is a good decision as is the potential decision to retire warrior. these LEP’s are always far more expensive than expected and are disguising really poor fleet management and lack of industrial capability as a result of years of poor decision making. A Boxer Force – armed appropriately, supported by Apache is a far more potent beast in my view. Like everything it has its limitations but if done properly will be a step change in UK capability by properly I mean have a fully integrated set of fires options, AAD and ATM’s available to ensure the… Read more »

Harry Bulpit
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Harry Bulpit

Challenger wasn’t deployed for a number of reasons, cost being one of them. However Afghanistan was a very unique situation and by your logic we shouldn’t have either fighter jets, SPGs and frigates. Also are use of Challenger in iraq and in the Baltics recently shows are willingness to use them.

Dern
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Dern

I feel like there is a key difference between “can’t” and “didn’t choose too” which is being missed here.

Even then, Afghan was one conflict we chose not to send tanks too, while Bosnia, both Iraqs, the Baltics, Kosovo etc all saw us sending the challengers out.

It’s a bit like if in 1986 after the Falklands we’d gone “well we didn’t use Chieftain in the Falklands so…. get rid of all the tanks.” we’d have looked pretty dumb in the Gulf a few years later.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

I very much Agree, Dern!
Do think the Korean K2 is up to the job?

Dern
Guest
Dern

Maybe. It’s a good 10-20ton lighter than the Challenger 2, Leopard and Abrams currently, which makes me ask “why?” I don’t know enough about K2, especially in regards to what the UK wants from a Tank (look up Bovingtons Tank Chat on Chally 2 for the Royal Armoured Corps priorities when it comes to Tanks), to really make that assesement. But the bigger issue is why should we buy new tanks? Challenger 2 is a relatively new tank, certainly compared to Leopard 2 and the M1 both of which where designed and entered production in the 1970’s, and frankly, K2… Read more »

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

I suspect the UK may be suggesting a significantly improved rotary capability to NATO allies as an alternative to providing heavy armour. Specifically adding the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft from the US FVL program to the UK’s current, modernised, Apache and Chinook assets. These would be rapidly deployable assets, much more relevant and valuable in the early days of a potential conflict versus heavy armour we would struggle to deploy rapidly. In addition, it seems the UK is interested in leveraging the US focus on new long range precision fires for wheel based platforms,… Read more »

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

When identifying the value of tanks, we should also be careful about extrapolating past success to future utility. For example, tanks performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan against insurgents armed with RPGs. However, we shouldn’t assume that future insurgents will be so constrained, especially if they are used as a proxy by a more capable adversary, providing them with modern ATGM weapons. Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s tank losses against similar irregular forces seem to have been the result of ATGMs, while acknowledging bad tactics were also a major contributor. One might expect a modern MBT with passive or APS systems… Read more »

AJP1960
Guest

If ever there was a need for an editor or sub-editor to review an article before publication, this piece of writing serves as a shining example.

I can understand one or two errors but this piece is littered with incorrect words, al be it correctly spelled wrong words.

The spell checker was working, shame the proof reader wasn’t

It sucks a lot of credibility away

Damo
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Damo

The author has pretty severe dyslexia

john melling
Guest

Personally I think we should have started designing and building a new tank along time ago!
The era of tanks is not over in my view
We need at least an AJAX or BOXER type Tank Killer
And it will bring in money and jobs and possible cooperation and export opportunities.

peter wait
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peter wait

Seems the General in favour of scrapping tanks (Express news)set up the Army’s cyber warfare unit. He now works for a defence consulting company which advises governments with defence analysis. An area they are keen to expand is cyber warfare, there is no money to be made on the tank upgrade as it is a done deal, perhaps he wants to divert MOD funds in his company direction?

Simon m
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Simon m

First of all: Great Article Can everyone please look at the In Service dates of the leopard 2 & M1 before saying CH2 is old? The dates are not exactly miles apart! Only real difference is British Army wanted a rifled gun & it was purchased with a British engine. Then it has been neglected due to the fact unlike the Germans we have been involved in combat constantly for the last x years. The British Army could not afford to run the M1 & it has a bigger logistics trail than CH2. Neither the leopard or M1 have demonstrated… Read more »

peter french
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peter french

OVer the recent past i,ve believed maybe wrongly that the Tank will go the way of the Battleship , that anti tank weapons from ground or air will render the Tank obsolete.
I still believe that but who knows