The Prime Minister will publish the Government’s Integrated Review on Tuesday, which is set to radically alter the UK’s foreign, defence, security and aid policy. The dossier is poised to move away from “industrial age” capabilities, such as heavy armour, and instead put a stronger emphasis on cyber and space.
Ahead of its publication, Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Defence Select Committee, has issued a warning to the government about the dangers of neglecting existing military capabilities.
He warned the Government must upgrade its traditional forces and support the army or the UK could be “more vulnerable” from attack.
He told Sky news: “We drop our guard on the conventional side at our peril.”
His stark message comes as a report by the Commons Defence Committee suggested the British Army’s ageing tanks and armoured vehicles are likely to be outgunned in any conflict with Russian forces.
The scathing assessment said the Army had been left with an armoured fighting vehicle fleet facing “mass obsolescence”.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Ellwood acknowledged the increase threat posed by cyber in the digital age, but warned “those old conventional threats have not disappeared”.
He said: “I fear there has been too much of a lure towards the digital domain, towards cyber security and the space command and so forth, but we drop our guard on the conventional side at our peril, and yet that is exactly what I see this integrated review taking us to.
“Our reliance on the internet and on data means we are ever more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, data theft, interference in our elections, disinformation campaigns – that’s all a part of the parcel of the constant competition that we now face, but those old conventional threats have not disappeared.”
The defence report also made a series of recommendations and said the Challenger 2 main battle tank and the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle are in need of modernisation after decades in service without any “meaningful upgrades”.
The report criticised the Ministry of Defence for embarking on a series of “overly-ambitious” equipment projects which were too reliant on developing technologies, resulting in cancellations and delay.
An MoD spokeswoman said: “We thank the Defence Committee for their report and acknowledge their recommendations as we look to improve the management of our large and complex equipment programmes.
“Aided by the substantial £24 billion settlement for Defence, the Integrated Review will provide resources to deliver an upgraded, digitised and networked armoured force to meet future threats.”