Britain risks running low on weapons after failing to replace kit

Ben Wallace assures Ukraine UK is 'full square behind them'

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Britain is at risk of running low on vital weapons after failing to replace the equipment given to Ukraine. Ministers still have not signed a contract to replace thousands of missiles which were donated to Ukraine, meaning they are at risk of running low on anti-tank weapons. The next-generation light anti-tank weapons – known as NLAWs – are made in Belfast by Thales UK.

As many as 7,000 of them have been donated by the UK to Ukraine, which is around half of the British stockpile, defence sources have said.

The MoD has not confirmed how many weapons have been given to Ukraine, it said that as many as 10,000 anti-tank missiles, including NLAWs, Javelins and Brimstones, have been donated in total.

Last week, former defence procurement minister Alec Shelbrooke admitted that the Government has not yet signed a contract to replace the weapons donated to Ukraine.

Mr Shelbrooke, in response to a written question from Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, said the MoD was “on schedule” to put contracts in place.

He said: “We continue to equip Ukraine with vital supplies, such as NLAWs.

“We are replacing equipment and munitions from UK stocks and are on schedule to place contracts to replenish NLAW stocks.”

Meanwhile, a defence source told The Times: “We have moved to knock months off procurement timelines, to ensure that our current position of having the defences we need is not brought into doubt.”

The Ukrainian Army has been using the NLAWs to destroy Russian tanks, forming a vital part of their defence against the Russian invasion.

Mr Zelensky’s forces received training on the use of the weapons from 30 British soldiers just one months before February’s invasion.

Francis Tusa, a defence analyst, said that the weapons “changed the course of the war because the Ukrainians were able to take out armoured columns with no effort at all”.

He said it was a “no brainer” that the MoD should replace the weapons for UK use, adding: “These things take time to be produced. Why there has been any delay, I just cannot fathom.”

Meanwhile, Mr Healey urged the Government to fix the “failing military procurement system”.

He added: “The NLAW anti-tank missiles have been vital to Ukraine.

“This is day 247 of Putin’s war, yet there’s still no MoD contract signed and still no production to restock for Ukraine and for our own army.

“More broadly, ministers must move away from ad hoc announcements of weapons and set out a long-term plan of support for Ukraine, alongside allies, to make sure Putin’s illegal invasion ends in failure.”

Yesterday, the UK was urged by Estonia to boost its defence spending.

The NATO country, which borders Russia, has hosted British troops on rotation for years.

Its foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, told the BBC it was “vital” all NATO countries spend three percent of their GDP on defence.

Mr Reinsalu said NATO countries should “absolutely” spend three percent of GDP on defence, adding: “To defend our values – the rules-based order – we need also to invest to the weapons.”

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