Defence secretary denies British army is scrapping tanks

Ben Wallace says older equipment will be shelved, but upgraded vehicles will remain part of armed forces

The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has denied reports that the British army is to scrap all its tanks.

The Times had reported the modernisation of the army would lead to the end of tanks, saying the cost of maintaining the ageing fleet of vehicles was too high.

But speaking to the BBC during a trip to Qatar, Wallace said: “The idea that tanks won’t be there for the army, upgraded and modernised, is wrong.”

But he said investment in new technology for the armed forces would mean shelving older equipment.

Last month, the Times said the decision to ditch tanks would be made as part of a review into British defence, security and foreign policy which is due to be published in 2021.

It is regarded as the biggest assessment of the country’s foreign policy since the end of the cold war.

Wallace said: “We’re going to make sure we have an armed forces fit for the 21st century [that] meets our obligations to Nato and elsewhere.

“We are not scrapping all the British army’s tanks and we will make sure the ones we maintain are up to date, lethal and defendable.”

The UK nominally has 227 Challenger 2 tanks, which, after two decades, are at the end of their life, although the total deployable force is understood to be half that.

Guardian staff and agency

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