Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned that the British Army is 15 years behind its peers. He has called on the Government to give the Ministry of Defece (MoD) a 10-year budget. In an inflamatory speech ahead of next week’s Budget, he criticised years of successive Government’s deferring decisions on military equipment plans which have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions, and compared military chiefs to teenagers who are constantly trying to “gold plate” everything.
The Defence Secretary was speaking today at the ConHome Defense and Security Conference in Westminster where he continued his push for a record increase in military spending.
Mr Wallace also hailed the impact of electronic warfare in the modern battlefield.
He told the audience that armies can use cyber to convince enemy forces they are shelling a military base when in fact they are firing expensive missiles at empty fields.
He claimed the war in Ukraine has shown “if you don’t have electronic warfare capability, you suddenly become very vulnerable or your very expensive equipment gets used on the wrong target”.
The speech comes amid reports that the Prime Minister will use a visit to the US ahead of the Budget on March 15 to announce a massive increase in defence spending.
This follows enormous criticism of the state of defence procurement from the Defence Select Committee in the Commons.
At a recent hearing MPs were told that some of the army’s heavy armour vehicles are 50 years old and the next generation of vehicles have been delayed so will not be operational until the next decade.
Former Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois, a member of the comittee, said that the army’s heavy armour is “clapped out” and would not even “get out of the tank park” if needed to help defend NATO allies in the Baltics if Russia invaded.
Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood recently quoted US allies over concerns that the Ukraine war has shown that British armed forces are not ready for combat.
Ministers have already given hints that Mr Sunak has acknowledged that there has been a problem of historic underfunding in the armed forces.
The army is not the only branch of the services to be criticised with the defence committee recently highlighting continued problms with Type 45 Destroyers, which cost £1 billion each, still not being able to sail in warm water to defend the aircraft carriers.
The defence committee has set up a sub committee under the chairmanship fo Mr Francois to investigate the problems with defence procurement across the three services.
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