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Should the UK continue to operate Tanks?

uk 75

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Now that British Army of the Rhine and its three armoured divisions are a distant memory and the army in the UK would have difficulty fielding a single Division type unit, has the time come to get rid of our heavy armoured vehicles.?
The AH64 Apache has at last been purchased in quantity. It allows us to make a powerful and highly mobile tank killing force available anywhere in the NATO area.
Challenger like Leopard and Abrams were designed to be stationed and deployed for high intensity land warfare in West Germany.
I ask the question, as the UK no longer makes tanks and arguably does not need to.
 

zen

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That's a tough one......because predicting the future is a fraught business.
Arguably if we needed to support NATO on the Polish Border the fastest means to deliver that is running off more Brimstone and land Ceptor. Along with financial support for Poland's Heavy Armour.....which is looking increasingly industrially connected to South Korea.....
 

kaiserd

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Presumably the UK armed forces will require a replacement MBT but given the likely lower numbers versus preceding procurements (tanks now more a niche asset) it does make it a harder sell for the likes of UK or France to maintain their own domestic-only programs.
The last I had heard was noises about a UK domestic Challenger-based solution but if so will be more driven by domestic political considerations (with a small “p”) than genuine military considerations (where a potentially cheaper US or German based solution would likely be just as good), which has its pluses and minuses.
 

uk 75

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Thanks for keeping it on the options. Both your suggestions sound reasonable.
The M1 would seem more useful than Leopard as we tend to be reinforcing alongside US forces in NATO. But given the small numbers needed, we could just upgrade Challenger.
I am sure the Treasury would prefer the air support option, as it doesnt involve much new spending
 

riggerrob

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Attack helicopters are great for assault and counter-attack, but you still need poor bloody infantry to hold the ground. BLI need fire support only a short telephone call away. Sometimes the best way to provide fire support is to attack a tank troop to an infantry position. The presence of tanks also discourages enemy from leasurely wandering about the battlefield.
Also, modern thermal imaging sights greatly improve tankers' view of the battlefield (situational awareness).

For example, during the (circa 1990) Oka Crisis, near Montreal, Quebec, Canada the Royal 22 nd Regiment (aka. Van Doos) brought their TOW Under Armour M113s to the perimeter. They had few plans to fire TOW missiles at the Iroquois barricaded in Oka, but found TOW sights were great for observing "Warrior" movements.
Eventually, the Van Doos tightened the cordon under Iroquois Warriors surrendered.
Part of the reason they called in the Canadian Army was because Iroquois Warriors knew they would be physically beaten by Quebec Provincial Police if they surrendered directly to disgraced police. It was equally important to have a french-language infantry regiment quietly "win" the stand-off.
 

zen

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Presumably the UK armed forces will require a replacement MBT but given the likely lower numbers versus preceding procurements (tanks now more a niche asset) it does make it a harder sell for the likes of UK or France to maintain their own domestic-only programs.
The last I had heard was noises about a UK domestic Challenger-based solution but if so will be more driven by domestic political considerations (with a small “p”) than genuine military considerations (where a potentially cheaper US or German based solution would likely be just as good), which has its pluses and minuses.
If we take the moves by Poland seriously then restricting ourselves to just German of American tanks seems counterproductive.
 

uk 75

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Zen
Surely the Poles are in a very different place from the UK. They require a pretty sizeable armoured force for their NATO role.
 

zen

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Zen
Surely the Poles are in a very different place from the UK. They require a pretty sizeable armoured force for their NATO role.
Yes but if we are to play our part in the East for NATO then why we should assume operating US or German built tanks is highly questionable.

If anything South Korean seems quite reasonable.
Certainly we're not buying Chinese or Turkish tanks.
 

kaiserd

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Zen
Surely the Poles are in a very different place from the UK. They require a pretty sizeable armoured force for their NATO role.
Yes but if we are to play our part in the East for NATO then why we should assume operating US or German built tanks is highly questionable.

If anything South Korean seems quite reasonable.
Certainly we're not buying Chinese or Turkish tanks.
Last I checked eastern Germany was quite easterly in Europe...
I think your point is fair that just looking at US “future-M1” and the likely German-lead Franco-German future “Leopard III” tanks is perhaps too narrow a field of candidates (I was more referencing them as examples) but they would be by far the most likely non- “Challenger III” based candidates for use by UK forces.
And the UK will be looking at far wider use and deployment than purely in a Eastern Europe Poland/ Ukraine border type of scenario, all of which means that high levels of commonalities with Polish forces may not be particularly high priorities (given likely higher priorities for commonalities with other NATO allies like the US, Germany and France).
 

zen

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Surely the Poles are in a very different place from the UK. They require a pretty sizeable armoured force for their NATO role.
Yes but if we are to play our part in the East for NATO then why we should assume operating US or German built tanks is highly questionable.

If anything South Korean seems quite reasonable.
Certainly we're not buying Chinese or Turkish tanks.
Last I checked eastern Germany was quite easterly in Europe...
I think your point is fair that just looking at US “future-M1” and the likely German-lead Franco-German future “Leopard III” tanks is perhaps too narrow a field of candidates (I was more referencing them as examples) but they would be by far the most likely non- “Challenger III” based candidates for use by UK forces.
And the UK will be looking at far wider use and deployment than purely in a Eastern Europe Poland/ Ukraine border type of scenario, all of which means that high levels of commonalities with Polish forces may not be particularly high priorities (given likely higher priorities for commonalities with other NATO allies like the US, Germany and France).
Very true but unless the French are inputting their extra-Europa requirements into a future Leopard version, then it's not likely to be any better than a Polish variant of a South Korean tank, if anything the South Korean requirements might be more compatible along with the US.

But this is not a religious topic, just I think we should avoid a knee jerk "let's buy American" which is the default position from certain quarters.
 

uk 75

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The starting point must be the quantity we need. We bought fewer Chieftains than Centurions and have gradually reduced the quantity of Challengers.
This means that we are closer to friends like Australia and Canada in the numbers of tanks and related vehicles (recovery, bridge etc) we need.
This will mean a mix of political, financial and industrial factors will be as important as the number of vehicles we will be asked for by NATO.
The current crisis has drastically reduced the funds available for defence. Added to which, Russia may not have the resources or appetite for foreign wars after Ukraine and Syria.
My money would be on keeping our Challengers as long as possible. Neither the current M1 or Leo seems to offer enough of an imorovement or lifespan to make it worth buying them unless a bargain offer is made.
It is unclear to say the least what their replacements in US and German service will offer us.
Poland and Italy are the other large scale tank users in W Europe. We have dealt with Poland. Italy has produced its own MBT family and its industry is likely to have a strong say in what happens next.
 
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