Just 30 percent of Royal Navy sailors are “satisfied” with the standard of major pieces of equipment – the lowest of the three services.
Fewer than one in three British Army soldiers think their equipment is good enough, with only 35 percent of RAF personnel satisfied. This plummets to just 20 percent among Royal Marines.
Critics say delays to upgrades have left troops relying on equipment which is “over half a century old”. Ministers were last night facing calls to give troops modern, advanced equipment as the threat from abroad intensifies.
The Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle was first brought into the British Army in 1984 and the main battle tank – the Challenger 2 – entered service in 1998. A report by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee said the FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles entered service in 1962.
But troops are also concerned about the availability of major pieces of equipment, the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey reveals.
Former Armed Forces Minister, Mark Francois, said: “Our Armed Forces are among the best trained in the world but, as this survey clearly shows, they don’t always receive the quality kit they deserve.
“Too much of our new equipment now arrives years late and/or way over budget, which means our troops have to try and make do, now sometimes even with armoured vehicles over half a century old.
“With a major war underway in Ukraine, just a few hundred miles from our own shores, we simply cannot carry on like this, if we are to remain a credible NATO ally.”
Former British Army Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon admitted he hopes the Ukraine war will prompt ministers to “re-evaluate” what the military needs.
He added: “The UK is perhaps too focused on producing its own kit rather than buying off the shelf and conversely is too focused on price rather than capability.
“They will buy the cheapest available rather than the best available. Hopefully the Ukraine war will make politicians re-evaluate the military requirements to deter people like Putin in future and properly resource the Ministry of Defence”.
The Defence Command Paper – set to be published this month – will set out the military’s priorities after a battle between the Ministry of Defence and Treasury for extra funding.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace wanted an extra £8bn – but only received £5bn.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would not “second guess” military chiefs on how they want to spend taxpayers’ money.
The Army has shrunk from 97,000 full-time, trained soldiers to 76,000, and the Future Soldier programme will see it reduced further to 73,000 regulars while increasing the size of the Army Reserve.
Mr Wallace has said the British Army has been “hollowed out and underfunded”.
Defence chiefs are now urgently trying to bolster Britain’s “deep strike capability” by procuring more long-range artillery.
The British Army has struck a new artillery deal with Sweden, which will see it replace the AS90s gifted to Ukraine with new ‘Archer’ heavy artillery guns.
The Army will own the first 14 Archer artillery systems this month, which will be fully operational by April 2024.
The UK gifted 32 AS90 artillery systems to the armed forces of Ukraine, and the Archer guns will serve as an interim replacement.