The UK army will be outgunned by Russian armed forces in the event of a battle, top British commanders have warned in a leaked report, raising questions about the British military’s real capabilities.
According to the “official-sensitive” document, which was produced in March under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter, Russian military forces hold a “significant capability edge” over the UK army and are equipped with more advanced technologies, British daily The Times reported Wednesday.
Russia is in possession of more sophisticated rocket launchers and air defense systems, the report noted, adding that the UK’s planned £3.5 billion fleet of lightly armored vehicles were “disproportionately vulnerable” to Russian mortar and rocket fire.
Russia said in May that it expects to receive the first examples of its domestically-built S-500 air and missile defense systems. The system can reportedly engage hypersonic targets at altitudes of about 201km (125 miles), a significant upgrade over the S-400.
This is while the British army’s primary air defense system, Rapier, has been in service for 35 years and will be deployed until 2020. Rapier missiles have an operational range of 8.2km (5 miles) and can hit targets at latitudes of up to 5 km (3 miles).
The paper refers to Russia’s BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launcher as another example of Russia’s superiority. It has a range of 90km (56 miles) — outranging the nearest British equivalent by 30km.
The leaked report also warned that Russia’s mastery of electronic warfare technologies such as jamming and hacking was a “real game changer” and posed a threat to NATO aircraft, GPS-guided weapons and the ability of soldiers on the ground.
“What we get from successive governments has been that it is all fine and dandy and ‘aren’t we doing well’,” General Sir Richard Shirreff, Britain’s former top officer in NATO, said. “Actually, the reality is that our capability has been dramatically hollowed out.”
The assessments go against UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon, who told MPs in May that UK and NATO’s armed forces were ready to “face up to any kind of threat in the future”
Tensions between Russia and NATO have been running high over the past months, due to the US-led alliance’s military buildup on Russian borders.