Britain to get 148 of world’s most advanced tanks, says Ben Wallace
UK MoD shares video showcasing capabilities of tanks
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Military chiefs say Britain will have the world’s most advanced tanks amid fears the Army does not have enough fire power and is falling behind other major militaries. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Daily Express that talks were under way to provide more than 148 Challenger 3 tanks.
Mr Wallace spoke as he and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly watched Australian troops train Ukrainian forces at a UK location. The Ministry of Defence is planning to phase out 79 of the 229 Challenger 2 tanks. The remaining 148 will receive new guns and armour.
Defence chiefs believe the upgraded fighting machines will be the most advanced in the world. Concern is growing that Britain does not have enough firepower after giving 14 tanks and scores of artillery rocket systems to Kyiv.
The war in Ukraine has reinforced the importance of armoured vehicles and artillery systems that can hit targets dozens – and in some cases hundreds – of miles away.
Mr Wallace said: “We’ve gifted 14, I will replace those. I’ll also increase the number of Challenger 3s, subject to negotiations with contractors.
“I’ll see to increase the number of Challenger 3 upgrades as well.”
Around 40,000 Ukrainians will undergo training in Britain for five weeks this year, before they go back to the front line.
Mr Wallace previously told MPs the Ministry of Defence was reviewing its fleet of tanks as fears grew the British Army already had too few.
The Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, held talks with their Australian counterparts, Richard Miles and Penny Wong, on the AUKUS submarine deal and support for Ukrainian troops.
Mr Wallace, speaking on a visit with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, refused to be drawn on whether former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was right to say his successor Rishi Sunak was wrong not to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
He told the Daily Express: “The reality is fighter jets are another step change. Everything we do in this conflict is linked to the needs of the Ukrainians in the moment.
“Tanks took a few weeks, but we got their tanks. What’s important on the battlefield right now and what they urgently needed before that was air defence to protect the critical infrastructure. The reality is not about right or wrong.
“The reality is, what is needed on the battlefield right now. What is needed right now is tanks, combined arms manoeuvre , more munitions and more personnel who are well trained. I’ve learned over the last year, never rule anything in and never rule anything out.”
Mr Wallace said there is “a bit of evidence” Moscow is planning another mass conscription of young men, but added: “The Russians are running out of equipment to give these people”.
And he admitted he is “surprised” by Russian forces digging trenches in eastern Ukraine.
He says this shows how poorly trained and corrupt Moscow’s forces are – despite the bluster. But Mr Wallace said Ukrainian troops being trained in the UK are being taught how to attack Russian trench systems which have been replicated on training bases here.
They are also shown how to disable boobytraps and move through minefields while under artillery fire. Military chiefs want to make it “as realistic as possible” during the five-week infantry training.
Only one in ten trainees have had previous combat experience. The oldest recruit was over 70, the Daily Express heard.
Mr Wallace told the Daily Express: “For all the boasting of the Russian forces, the Russians have gone back to the Soviet, almost second world war type human wave mentality, massive amounts of artillery and then just chuck people against machine guns.
“I am surprised to see that. The Russian so-called military Gerasimov leadership has produced a hollow, corrupt armed forces with poor training and poor equipment.
“You have got one massive power that doesn’t care about its own people and just shoves them into a Russian meat grinder. If you’re a leadership that doesn’t simply give a damn about how many people you’re killing, at one level you can try and wear out the other country. A slow, long drawn out conflict would suit a man who doesn’t care about his own people. The Ukrainians aren’t going to make that mistake and nor is the West.
“What you’ve seen in the last year is Ukraine fighting exactly the way we’ve designed NATO to fight because we have known for decades that you cannot fight Russian mass in that same way. So we invented and developed a different way of fighting and it has shown it has worked.
“The lesson of history is that human waves do not actually work in the end. In the end, you lose a huge amount of people.”
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