A flare firing over a Type 45 destroyer in 2013. The British ships have been beset by engine problems. DAVE JENKINS/CROWN COPYRIGHT/PA
Britain has been left with gaping holes in its defences, with warships so noisy that Russian submarines can hear them 100 miles away, drones costing £1bn that have not entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered and light tanks that are too big to fit into transport aircraft.
A Sunday Times investigation has uncovered equipment failures and bungled procurement deals as concerns grow that the armed forces would be unable to defend Britain against a serious military attack.
• Read my article on The Times web site (written with Mark Hookham and John Collingridge) – Subscription Required
Experts believe Britain could now deploy little more than a brigade of 5,000-10,000 troops. Photo: David Moir
Defence cuts have “effectively removed” Britain’s ability to “deliver and sustain” an effective fighting force against a “competent” enemy such as Russia, according to the army’s think tank.
Years of squeezed budgets have resulted in the “hollowing out or deletion of the army’s deployed capabilities”, a paper from the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research (CHACR) says. It warns that the risk of the army’s one remaining fighting division being wiped out in an afternoon will “weigh heavily” on commanders.
• Read my article on The Times web site (written with Mark Hookham) – Subscription Required
The number of fast-jet squadrons is expected to double, amid fears that years of deep cuts have left the RAF too small to tackle the twin threats of Isis and Russian aggression.
Senior defence sources say the RAF’s senior commanders have made increasing the number of fighter and bomber squadrons from six to 12 a cornerstone of their submission to the government’s forthcoming strategic defence and security review.
The move would be embarrassing for the government, reversing the 2010 defence review which reduced the frontline RAF to its smallest size since the First World War.
• Read my article (written with Mark Hookham) on the Sunday Times web site (subscription required for full article)