UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says investment in new technology for the Armed Forces will mean shelving older equipment, but denied reports all tanks will be mothballed.
The Times reported last month the modernisation of the Army will lead to the end of tanks, saying the cost of maintaining or upgrading an ageing vehicle fleet was too high.
During a trip to Qatar, Mr Wallace has now told the BBC: “The idea that tanks won’t be there for the Army, upgraded and modernised, is wrong.”
The original report suggested cost-cutting measures under the pending defence and security Integrated Review could see the 227 Challenger 2 tank and the 388 Warrior armoured fighting vehicle scrapped in efforts to prioritise new defence landscapes such as cyber and space.
Dubbed the largest review of its kind "since the end of the Cold War" by Downing Street in February, the assessment is expected in 2021 following a COVID-19 pause.
Lucy Fisher, Defence Editor for The Times and the journalist behind the report, told Forces News in August a move away from heavy armour would have a “huge impact on our military contribution to NATO."
The article had suggested a larger contribution of helicopters, including 50 Apache aircraft, could see Britain edge towards a greater role in attack aviation within the alliance, while the Challenger fleet would be placed in "deep preservation" and could still be called upon in a crisis.
Responding to the reports, Mr Wallace continued:
“We’re going to make sure we have an Armed Forces fit for the 21st Century and meets our obligations to NATO and elsewhere…
“We are not scrapping all the British Army’s tanks and we will make sure the ones we maintain are up to date, lethal and defendable.”
According to the BBC, the Defence Secretary went on to say RAF Typhoons would be based in Qatar for football's planned 2022 World Cup.
Another reported announcement was a £23 million investment into a UK hub in the Port of Duqm, supporting Army training in Oman and potentially hold Navy aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Cover image: A Challenger 2 tank in South Wales (Picture: Crown Copyright).