Military chiefs are considering decommissioning Britain’s fleet of tanks to prioritise cyber-warfare.
The Government is considering the controversial idea as the cost of replacing the ageing fleet of 227 Challenger 2 tanks, and the 388 armoured vehicles, have reportedly soared.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has previously called for a renewed focus on cyber-warfare amid the changing nature of war. The idea to scrap the tanks was brought up as part of the Government’s defence review due in November.
A Government source told The Times: ‘We know that a number of bold decisions need to be taken in order to properly protect British security and rebalance defence interests to meet the new threats we face.’
The 227 Challenger 2 tanks, which have been in service since 1998, were last year considered ‘obsolete’.
Defence officials, who are keenly looking at how future funds will be spent because of a tight budget brought on by the pandemic, are understood to be sounding out Nato partners about focusing on cyber-warfare and aviation instead of heavy armour.
However, there is concern scrapping the fleet of tanks could leave Britain vulnerable during a traditional attack.
Russia currently has a fleet of more than 12,000 tanks, while China has close to 6,000, MailOnline reported. Nato partners including Germany and France respectively have 236 and 200 tanks.
Quoting a senior British defence source, The Times reported there was concern Britain ‘will not be viewed as a credible leading Nato nation if we cannot field close-combat capabilities’, adding the move could ‘place us behind countries such as France, Germany, Poland and Hungary’.
A spokesperson for the MoD said: ‘Our commitment to Nato is unwavering, and the UK recognises that as a global military power our greatest strength remains our alliances.
‘We are engaging our international allies and industry partners as we develop and shape defence’s contribution to the integrated review.’
It was reported in July up to 20,000 troops could be let go as the army moves to divert a sizeable amount of money from the army to fund cyber-warfare, space and artificial intelligence projects.
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