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Britain’s ‘laughably’ small tank fleet would be wiped out in two weeks by Putin’s forces in a war with Russia, ex-senior officer warns

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Britain’s ‘laughably’ small tank fleet would be wiped out in two weeks by Vladimir Putin‘s forces in a war with Russia, an ex-senior officer has warned.

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford, who served in the army for 20 years, added that the US no longer saw the UK as a ‘Tier One military power’ thanks to the precarious nature of its Armed Forces.

He told The Times that the new Challenger 3, a tank set to arrive in 2030, was a ‘decent vehicle’ but that not enough were due to be built.

‘We’re currently planning to procure only 148 of them, which is embarrassingly few when you remember that at the height of the Cold War, not that long ago, the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps could hope to field around 900 MBTs (main battle tanks),’ he said.

Writing in the UK Defence Journal, Lt Col Crawford, who is now a defence analyst, added that this number was only enough to support two armoured regiments and reserve and training vehicles. 

Britain's 'laughably' small tank fleet would be wiped out in two weeks by Vladimir Putin 's forces in a war with Russia , an ex-senior officer has warned (pictured: a Challenger 2 tank in 2003)

Britain’s ‘laughably’ small tank fleet would be wiped out in two weeks by Vladimir Putin ‘s forces in a war with Russia , an ex-senior officer has warned (pictured: a Challenger 2 tank in 2003)

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford (pictured, in 2018), who served in the army for 20 years, added that the US no longer saw the UK as a 'Tier One military power' thanks to the precarious nature of its Armed Forces

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford (pictured, in 2018), who served in the army for 20 years, added that the US no longer saw the UK as a ‘Tier One military power’ thanks to the precarious nature of its Armed Forces

He pointed out that Ukraine had lost around 3,000 tanks in roughly two years meaning that Britain’s quota of vehicles might only last a matter of weeks. 

He said: ‘If there’s one lesson to come out of the current conflict in Ukraine it’s that you need lots of stuff, to use the correct technical term, and clearly 148 tanks ain’t going to cut it.’ 

The former senior officer’s stern warning comes after General Sir Richard Shirreff said that Britain might not be able to send an army of 5,000 troops into the field due to damaging shortages.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ten years of cuts had ‘decimated’ the UK’s Armed Forces which, as recently as 1997, could have fielded a war-fighting brigade of 20,000 soldiers.

‘Ammunition is in crucial short supply,’ the former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe added. ‘Among other things, of course, the bottom of the barrel has been scraped to provide everything that can go to Ukraine but it needs to be replaced.’

The Ministry of Defence has been approached for comment. 

Last month, an ex-general warned that Putin could pound Britain with dozens of the same missiles he’s using to blitz Ukraine – and there’s nothing the UK could do to stop them.

The weapons would have the capacity to reach Britain in just 90 minutes, travelling at speeds of 600mph, according to General Sir Richard Barrons.

The retired British Army officer estimated that an attack would involve Russia firing over the missiles in waves of 60 to 90 at a time.

Speaking to The Sun, General Barrons warned that the UK would currently be unable to fend off such an onslaught.

Vladimir Putin pictured in Beijing, China, on May 16. Lt Col Crawford pointed out that Ukraine had lost around 3,000 tanks at the hands of Russia  in roughly two years meaning that Britain's quota of vehicles might only last a matter of weeks

Vladimir Putin pictured in Beijing, China, on May 16. Lt Col Crawford pointed out that Ukraine had lost around 3,000 tanks at the hands of Russia  in roughly two years meaning that Britain’s quota of vehicles might only last a matter of weeks

A Russian Yars missile pictured being launched in October 2022. Putin could pound Britain with dozens of the same missiles he's using to blitz Ukraine - and there's nothing the UK could do to stop them, an ex-general has claimed

A Russian Yars missile pictured being launched in October 2022. Putin could pound Britain with dozens of the same missiles he’s using to blitz Ukraine – and there’s nothing the UK could do to stop them, an ex-general has claimed

The weapons would have the capacity to reach Britain in just 90 minutes, travelling at speeds of 600mph, according to General Sir Richard Barrons (pictured)

The weapons would have the capacity to reach Britain in just 90 minutes, travelling at speeds of 600mph, according to General Sir Richard Barrons (pictured)

He said: ‘The UK does not have the air and missile defence that Ukraine has, for now. We’ve not needed it.

‘The sort of missiles that fall on Kyiv could fall on London. And Kyiv’s air defences are way, way better.

‘Even a quite elderly Russian cruise missile, I’m going to cite Kh-101 released from an aircraft over western Russia, arrives in London 90 minutes later with a 500 kilogram explosive warhead and an accuracy of two meters. So pick your door in Downing Street.’



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