British Army admits more delays in fielding enough combat forces
LONDON - The limits of the British Army's ability to deploy modernized armored forces in the 2020s have been exposed by evidence presented by the military to the Parliamentary Defense Committee.
The army admitted that by 2025 it could only deploy one combat division consisting of just a single maneuver brigade and one intermediate maneuver support brigade.
A fully functional division with a new strike brigade will not be available for use until the early 2030s - more than five years late, the army said in written evidence released by the committee on October 9.
One analyst here wondered what effect the inclusion would have on Britain's allies.
"If you're the chief of staff in the US Army, which still maintains a sizeable armed forces, you really wonder how much the British Army is a belligerent army," said Ben Barry, senior fellow on land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Think Tank in London.
The government's 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review envisaged a restructuring of the army with the creation of a combat division of three brigades, including the deployment of one of two new medium strike brigades set up for a rapid deployment with the new General Dynamics pursuit Ajax reconnaissance and Artec were formed infantry vehicles with boxer wheels.
The intermediate maneuver support brigade will be equipped with Ajax, the first boxer platforms and operational protected mobility vehicles.
"It's pretty mind-boggling. One of the most important things you can learn from this evidence is that the Army can't have two armored infantry brigades," said Barry.
“The army was hired [in 2015 review] to deliver two armored infantry brigades, while now they say they can only produce one. They have enough vehicles for three infantry tank brigades, but my strong suspicion is that they didn't spend any money on parts. If they don't have enough spare parts, they only risk running a brigade, ”said Barry.
Great Britain presents a new operational concept for a "fundamental transformation of the military"
The analyst said the army would train regularly at the brigade level here, but has not done so in several years.
In the evidence before the parliamentary committee, the army blamed the lack of money for failing to allocate money to modernize its armored combat vehicle fleet.
This was later confirmed in a statement by the Ministry of Defense.
“Previous planning and spending decisions did not fully equip the Army with the resources to get the War Department results within this timeframe. The upcoming integrated review will rebalance resources with ambition, ”said a ministry spokesman.
“By 2025, the army will be able to set up a war division optimized for high-intensity combat missions. A full strike brigade will be reached in the early 2030s, ”the spokesman said.
The Conservative government is expected to publish its integrated defense, security, foreign and development policy review next month.
Analysts believe the army is likely to be in the line of fire for cuts and delays in programs, including in the armored vehicle space, as governments seek to divert some of their defense and security spending into areas like space, cyber and man-made Shift intelligence and underwater warfare.
The first of 589 Ajax vehicles have been delivered to the army here, and full operational capability is set for 2025.
Deliveries of boxers will begin in 2023, but full operational capability is not planned until 2032 - almost 13 years after the contract for just over 500 vehicles was signed.
The British Army's AS90 howitzers will stall if there are delays in replacement
Significant improvements to the Challenger 2 battle tank and the Warrior infantry combat vehicle are also in the final stages of contract negotiations with Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land and Lockheed Martin.
Both platforms are virtually out of date in their current state, but the programs are often cited by analysts as potential victims of built-in review.
Cuts in program numbers are likely, analysts say.
In connection with the new division capability, a program was recently rolled back by two years to replace the Army's aging AS90 self-propelled artillery.
The UK's new heavy artillery was scheduled to gain its first operational capabilities in the final quarter of 2026, but the Department of Defense has confirmed it will now be delayed until 2029.
Due to the delay in procurement, AS90 was also taken out of service two years ago. Part of the howitzer force is now being extended for life until 2032, which coincides with the deployment date of the entire division force.
On October 12, there was good news for the British Army's maneuver plans when the Department of Defense announced it had awarded Stockport, WFEL based in northwest England, a $ 55 million contract to manufacture 17 sets of medium-sized girder bridges .
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