Boxer armoured fighting vehicle 051119 CREIDT MOD
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British Army's Armoured Vehicles Face Damning Report

The Defence Committee has described the capability as "deplorable".

Boxer armoured fighting vehicle 051119 CREIDT MOD

The Defence Committee has published a scathing report on the place of armoured vehicles in the Army.

As the UK awaits the outcome of the delayed Integrated Review, which will see an expanded approach to the cyber domain, the recent history of and ageing, depleted armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) capability has been labelled "deplorable".

The report tells a "woeful story of bureaucratic procrastination, military indecision, financial mismanagement and general ineptitude", which has weakened attempts to adequately re-equip troops "over the last two decades".

Warning potential adversaries could outmatch Army AFVs in number and effectiveness, the Defence Committee stated the capability has fallen on the Army's priority list toward modernisation.

Delays to the Integrated Review, which Downing Street declared would be the largest of its kind since the end of the Cold War, were also said to have left Army AFVs vulnerable.

A column of Warrior armoured fighting vehicles moving along an autumnal forest track in Poland during Exercise Black Eagle 190319 CREDIT MOD.jpg
A column of Warrior armoured fighting vehicles on exercise in Poland in 2019 (Picture: MOD).

Chair of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood MP said: "Over the past two decades the Ministry of Defence has allowed our armoured fighting vehicles capability to atrophy at an astounding and alarming rate.

"Of the vehicles we do still have, some date back to the early 1960s, when the Morris 1100 was the most popular car and Elvis was the Christmas number one."

"Whilst the defence landscape is certainly shifting, traditional warfare remains a very real and frightening possibility, and one for which we must be fully prepared," he added. 

"I hope the Government will take these issues into account when implementing the Integrated Review: there is still time to amend the Defence Command Paper and the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy and strengthen our decaying armoured fighting vehicle fleet. 

"In a conflict, the capable men and women working for the Armed Forces may find themselves outmatched, reliant on a fleet of outdated and outmoded fighting vehicles.

"The Government should make no mistake, these failures may cost lives," he added.

The committee supports continued procurement and upgrade programmes, alongside the proposal to develop a Land Industrial Strategy.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We thank the Defence Committee for their report and acknowledge their recommendations as we look to improve the management of our large and complex equipment programmes.

"Aided by the substantial £24bn settlement for Defence, the Integrated Review will provide resources to deliver an upgraded, digitised and networked armoured force to meet future threats."

Cover image: A Boxer armoured fighting vehicle (Picture: MOD).