UK would be 'outgunned' in a war with Russia, says report

27 November 2019, 08:13 | Updated: 27 November 2019, 12:56

The UK would be "comprehensively outgunned" in a future conflict with Russia, according to an international defence think tank.

Ground forces would lack any sort of competitive edge in a potential war because of a "critical shortage" of artillery, which traditionally inflicts between 60% and 90% of casualties in high-intensity combat.

The damning assessment of UK military power has been issued by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

In its report The Future Of Fires: Maximising The UK's Tactical And Operational Firepower, RUSI said Russian warfare capabilities far outweigh those held by the UK.

Enemy weaponry would be "free to prosecute fire missions with impunity", suppressing British guns to the extent that troops on the ground would be comfortably defeated.

The report, which will be launched in full next week, highlights a number of stark comparisons between specific equipment currently in use by Russia and the UK.

One example is of the multiple-launch rocket systems held by the two nations, the UK version of which is said to be inaccurate in the face of extensive Russian GPS jamming.

The UK system is said to be unable to course correct, making it unable to reliably engage dynamic mobile targets, and has a limited range of about 52 miles, compared with about 75 miles for the Russian system.

For the UK to become more competitive, the report said it must invest in stockpiles of precision-guided munitions or reconsider its commitments to an international treaty prohibiting the use of weaponry such as cluster bombs.

Russia and the US both use cluster munitions, but they are banned to countries signed up to the Oslo Convention because of how imprecisely and indiscriminately they can be used over an area.

The report suggests a number of additions to the British arsenal to provide "minimum credible war-fighting capability", including a battery of anti-tank guided missiles per battle group.

"The ability to deploy a credible war-fighting force increases the risk for adversaries escalating to direct armed conflict, and thereby allows the UK to maximise its efforts in the competitive space," the report said.

The report also highlights deficiencies in NATO, saying forces have underestimated the firepower required to enable ground forces to operate without prohibitive casualties when fighting in complex terrain.

It said there is a shortage of munitions stockpiles across the alliance, which French President Emmanuel Macron has recently warned is experiencing "brain death".

He said NATO, which was founded in 1949, is suffering from a lack of coordination and US unpredictability under President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump will attend a reception hosted by the Queen during his visit to the UK for a NATO summit next week.