Brits On Ex Spring Storm In Estonia

British troops exercising with NATO allies next to the Russian border (Picture: MOD).

Russia

British Forces Would Be 'Comprehensively Outgunned' Against Russia

A report by RUSI suggests the British Army and the UK's NATO allies have a critical shortage of artillery and ammunition.

Brits On Ex Spring Storm In Estonia

British troops exercising with NATO allies next to the Russian border (Picture: MOD).

Researchers have warned that British ground forces would be "comprehensively outgunned" if they were to engage in any conflict with Russia in Eastern Europe. 

A study by the defence think tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), found that the British Army and the UK's NATO allies have a critical shortage of artillery and ammunition.

The paper, which examines the necessary artillery capabilities for the British Army to offer credible deterrence in future conflicts, says modernised firepower must now become a priority.

RUSI says that for the UK to regain a competitive edge it must either be prepared to invest in highly effective but expensive stockpiles of precision-guided munitions or reconsider its commitments under the Oslo Convention.

The Convention prevents the use of cheaper explosives, such as cluster munitions, which are still being used by Russia. 

RUSI’s publication, ‘The Future of Fires: Maximising the UK’s Tactical and Operational Firepower’, also warns that the Army "lacks the transportation capacity to deploy and sustain a credible divisional fires group".

WATCH: Rosie Laydon takes a look at the report.

Artillery has historically inflicted between 60-90% of casualties in high-intensity warfare.

The British Army has only two regiments of 24 AS90 155-mm, 39-calibre, self-propelled howitzers.

The research argues that a minimum credible warfighting fires capability would include 72 155-mm, 52-calibre, self-propelled howitzers with anti-armour capability.

"The UK’s ground forces are comprehensively outgunned and outranged, leaving enemy artillery free to prosecute fire missions with impunity," says the report by RUSI Research Fellow Dr Jack Watling.

NATO-wide deficiencies are also addressed, forces within the alliance said to "significantly underestimate the quantity of firepower needed to enable ground manoeuvre without prohibitive casualties when fighting in complex terrain".

NATO troops are said to have underestimated the firepower needed to enable ground manoeuvres.

A shortage of munitions among the member countries is said to have been exposed in Libya and Iraq.

The paper has been released ahead of a meeting between NATO leaders next week and assesses Britain's commitment to the Alliance’s capabilities against Russia.

In response to the report, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "The UK does not stand alone but alongside its NATO allies, who work closely together across air, sea, land, nuclear and cyber to deter threats and respond to crises.

"As the largest NATO defence spender in Europe, the UK’s armed forces are well equipped to take a leading role in countering threats and ensuring the safety and security of British people at home and abroad."