Defence funding needs to increase to prevent armed forces being 'outgunned by Russians', new report claims

UK army is stretched under current funding arrangements, says Defence Committee

Andrew Woodcock
Monday 18 June 2018 00:10 BST
UK soldier receiving a salute as troops arrive at the Amari airbase, 25 miles south-west of Tallinn
UK soldier receiving a salute as troops arrive at the Amari airbase, 25 miles south-west of Tallinn (PA)

UK armed forces need a significant hike in funding to tackle threats from states like Russia and fill existing "black holes" in their finances, a new parliamentary report has said.

The report from the Commons Defence Committee said the government should increase defence spending up from 2% to 3% of total GDP.

A cash injection on this scale would equate to additional funding of around £20 billion a year and bring investment in defence to levels similar to those seen in the immediate period after the end of the Cold War.

In its report, the committee warned that a failure to sustainably finance the military on a sustainable basis makes it "very difficult" to implement a long-term strategy for Britain's defence needs.

The threat from Russia - as well as challenges from new forms of warfare like cyber-terrorism - necessitates a "robust" financial new settlement, the report said.

This report comes just weeks before the expected release of high-level findings from the Ministry of Defence's Modernising Defence Programme (MDP).

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In the committee's view, a lack of vehicle-mounted anti-tank weapons and "serious deficiencies in the quantities of armour, armoured vehicles and artillery" means the British Army is in danger of being "outgunned" by its Russian counterpart.

Other defence needs identified by the committee included:

  • Greater anti-submarine warfare capacity;
  • The generation of a Royal Navy carrier group capable of protecting the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers without depending on other states;
  • The maintenance of the target strength of the regular Army at a minimum of 82,000 personnel;
  • A layered air defence system to protect the war-fighting division.

Committee chairman Julian Lewis said: "The Secretary of State was right to remove defence from the National Security Capability Review which would otherwise have resulted in further disastrous cuts to the armed forces, and we endorse his efforts to obtain a better settlement for defence.

"The Government now needs to look beyond the 2 per cent minimum on defence spending, and begin moving towards a figure of 3 per cent, to place our defence policy on a sustainable basis to meet new threats and fill existing financial 'black holes'.

"Defence is constantly described as the first duty of government. The MDP is the government's opportunity to show that it means what it says."

Press Association

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