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British tanks would be outgunned by Russian adversaries, MPs warn

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The British Army’s ageing tanks and armoured vehicles are likely to find themselves outgunned and overmatched in any conflict with Russian forces, MPs have warned.

In a scathing report, the Commons Defence Committee said a series of botched procurement programmes meant the Army had been left with an armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) fleet facing “mass obsolescence”.

It said any “artillery duel” between a modern British and Russian division is “likely to end one way – and not necessarily to the British Army’s advantage”.

The committee blamed a history of “bureaucratic procrastination, military indecision, financial mismanagement and general ineptitude” which it said had marked attempts to re-equip the Army over the past two decades.

A Warrior infantry fighting vehicle / PA Media

The report – entitled “Obsolescent and outgunned” – comes as Boris Johnson prepares to set out on Tuesday the results of the Government’s integrated review of foreign, defence, security and development policy.

It is expected to mark a shift away from “industrial age” capabilities – like heavy armour – towards the battlefields of the future such as cyber and space.

But the committee said whatever the outcome of the review, the Army needs to regain its “credibility” as it currently lacks sufficient armoured capability to make an “effective contribution” to Nato deterrence.

Even under the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) current plans, it said the Army is four years away from being able to field a “warfighting division”, which would still be “hopelessly under-equipped” and “denuded” of a third combat brigade.

A series of failed procurement programmes means there are still some vehicles dating back to the early 1960s, a time when the Morris 1100 was Britain’s most popular car and Elvis Presley had a Christmas number one with Return To Sender.

The MPs also said the Challenger 2 main battle tank and the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle are in need of modernisation after a number of decades in service without any “meaningful upgrades”.

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