A source within the British government has stated that the government is aware that bold choices need to be made when determining how to ration funds to pay for security and defense initiatives.
One possible strategy being proposed is to end the use of armored tanks in order to divert funding to other priorities. The need to modernize the military is leading the idea of funding cyber and space technologies.
The overall goal is to re-balance military and security assets in order to be prepared to meet the new threats emerging in the world.
The cost to upgrade the 227 Challenger 2 tanks and the 388 Warrior armored fighting vehicles has increased dramatically in recent years which has led to the new proposals and the thought that the money could be better used in other areas.
The Ministry of Defense has already moved money from the tank program into cyberwarfare and other modern technologies as the relevance of a fleet of tanks has begun to be questioned.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected the government’s budget and the MoD expects to see their budget decreased as a result.
According to The Times, the British government has already begun discussions with NATO over the feasibility of adjusting Britain’s military contributions to the organization including the elimination of all heavy armor.
Another source stated that they felt that the UK could not be seen as a leading NATO nation if they no longer have the ability to field close-combat weapons. He said the move would drop Britain behind France, Germany, Poland and Hungary. They called the move “dressing up financial pressure as capability choices.”
Should Britain end their use of armored tanks, it will be a historic occasion. The first tank was invented by the British military and engineers. They were the first to use tanks in battle – at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on September 15, 1916.
The British were seeking an advantage in the trench warfare that was a major part of World War I.
The name “tank” comes from British attempts at secrecy. Workers on the original prototype were told that the vehicle would carry water to the battlefield.
Those early tanks were slow, got stuck in the mud and suffered mechanical failures. When 49 tanks were deployed for the first time at Flers-Courcelette, only 25 actually managed to move.
The early issues were quickly improved and by 1918 2,600 tanks were manufactured in Britain.
France joined in with the first fully rotating turret on a tank in 1915. By late 1918, they had manufactured over 3,000 tanks.
Germany got off to a slow start with tanks but by World War II, the Germans and Soviets had the most powerful tanks on the battlefield.
Modern tanks are not just armored transports with guns but highly technologically advanced assets on the battlefield able to manage large amounts of data to pinpoint both enemy and friendly forces for multiple kilometers during battle.
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Despite Britain’s seeming reluctance to maintain an armored force, China, Japan and the US are moving forward with advances to the designs of their tanks which will increase their abilities in battles.