UK army at serious risk of being outgunned by Russia, say lawmakers

Key Points
  • A new report calls for British defense spend to be raised to 3 percent of GDP from its current 2 percent level.
  • The group of MP's who authored the report said current spend levels are "far too low".
  • U.K. military strength found to be lacking in land, sea, and air.
Lawmakers: UK army at serious risk of being outgunned by Russia

A group of British lawmakers has warned that unless the country raises spending on defense, it runs the risk of being "outgunned" by Russia.

The Defence Select Committee (DSC) issued a report Monday, calling for the amount of money allocated to U.K. defense to be raised towards 3 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). It currently spends around 2 percent, a target level set by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

The report claimed however that current spend levels are "far too low" and that the U.K. government needed more resources to help keep the country safe.

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Despite the criticism, Britain has maintained the biggest military budget in Europe. For the fiscal year ending in March 2019, U.K. defense spending is budgeted to be £47.2 billion ($62.5 billion).

But military chiefs have pointed out that much of this money is devoted to renewing the Trident nuclear submarine program and the construction of two new aircraft carriers, leaving conventional forces short of cash.

MP's on the committee highlighted weak army power, pointing to ineffective anti-tank weaponry and outdated rocket technology. The report concluded that the current British Army set up was "at serious risk of being outgunned by its Russian counterpart".

The committee also concluded that Britain had "no substantial missile defence capability" and that Royal Air Force airbases needed upgrading to include radars and rocket interceptors.

The U.K. Navy was also described as under-resourced with the most serious maritime issue said to be the need for more anti-submarine warfare capacity.

This year the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is scheduled to start operation. It is the first of two new aircraft carriers entering service. The £3 billion warships should be escorted and protected by other smaller ships, of which there is a current shortfall.

MP's described the lack of resource to protect the new aircraft carriers as "complacent at best and dangerous at worst". It said Britain should not have to rely on other countries to provide escort.

A Defence Modernisation Programme (DMP) was launched in January, examining at the current state of U.K. defense and firepower. If that report highlights risks, it is expected that the British government will come under more pressure to increase military budgets.