UK Tanks Unfit for Afghanistan Despite Upgrade

23 November 2009 (Last Updated November 23rd, 2009 18:30)

The UK Ministry of Defence has spent £149m on an urgent upgrade to 900 tanks that, despite the urgent need in Afghanistan, will still only be available as training tools. The programme has, received major criticism as the tanks, known as Bulldogs, are too low to the ground to offer suffic

The UK Ministry of Defence has spent £149m on an urgent upgrade to 900 tanks that, despite the urgent need in Afghanistan, will still only be available as training tools.

The programme has, received major criticism as the tanks, known as Bulldogs, are too low to the ground to offer sufficient protection against mines in Afghanistan, and will therefore only be used in Canada and Britain for training purposes.

The upgrade, which was revealed by a freedom of information requests submitted by The Times, is the latest controversy to hit the MoD, which has been criticised widely for providing insufficient vehicles for overseas troops.

The refit programme was ordered as an urgent operational requirement three years ago, in which 900 FV430 variant vehicles were equipped with new engines, drive trains and driver controls and reclassified as Bulldogs.

A spokesman for the MoD said that the Bulldog was specifically upgraded for use in Iraq where it played a key role in providing armoured protection for many personnel.

"In Afghanistan, where the terrain and threats are different, this role is performed by the Mastiff and Ridgeback. The Bulldogs continue to have a role in training exercises in the UK," the spokesman said.

The UK has spent around £1bn on new armoured vehicles including the Mastiff and Ridgeback to protect against the threat of roadside bombs and mines in Afghanistan. Delayed deliveries and insufficient air transport aircraft have, however, resulted in renewed pleas from commanders for more vehicles to protect troops