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World is MORE dangerous but we can’t defend ourselves, ex-Brit Navy boss warns

THE world is more dangerous now than during the Cold War – and Britain isn’t ready to defend itself, a former Navy chief has warned.

Lord Admiral West blasted the “too little, too late” defence budget hike, while despairing over our “hollowed out” armed forces and the future vulnerability of the Royal Navy.

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Lord Admiral West told The Sun’s defence show that the world today is more dangerous than the Cold War eraCredit: The Sun
He blamed the UK's vulnerability on a lack of spending - but said military leaders had finally 'woken up' to the dangers of today

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He blamed the UK’s vulnerability on a lack of spending – but said military leaders had finally ‘woken up’ to the dangers of todayCredit: The Sun
Lord West questioned whether the UK was ready for the 'pre-war' environment

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Lord West questioned whether the UK was ready for the ‘pre-war’ environment

Speaking on The Sun’s World at War show, Lord West argued that “at long last” the world was waking up to the multiple threats that our island nation faces.

The former First Sea Lord fully agreed with PM Rishi Sunak’s assessment last month that the world is “more volatile and dangerous” than at any time since the Cold War.

However, he went further to say that the nuclear-sabre rattling era of global superpowers was “safer in some ways because everyone understood it”.

The world now, he argued, is “very unpredictable” as he listed off the wars in Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan and the escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

But as we move into what British leaders have called a “pre-war world”, West declared that our armed forces are “not of a size they should be”.

He said: “At long last, I think people are understanding: ‘Goodness me, we’ve taken too much out of defence’,” but added that for too long the forces have been “hollowing out.”

UK warships will fall off the end of their lives and there’ll be nothing there

Admiral Lord West

The Falklands War hero added: “Spending on defence often stops wars. It shows people you mean business and it deters… We need to actually knuckle down to that now.”

The UK’s plan to raise defence spending by 2.5 per cent by 2030 that should produce an extra £75billion for the armed forces is “too little, too late,” Lord West argued.

“Thank God they’ve seen there’s a problem,” he said, but believes it should be higher than 3 per cent to shore up our defences.

‘BRITAIN NEEDS MORE SHIPS NOW’

The fighting abilities of the Royal Navy were also front and centre of Lord West’s worries.

Ukraine CAN beat Russia with these 3 things – Russian heartland blitz, more men & weapons tactic

He questioned Defence Secretary Grant Shapps statement that the UK was in a “golden age of shipbuilding” – and pointed to years of subpar investment.

If Britain finds itself in a “hot war”, he said: “What we haven’t got is the scale to ensure, for example, protection of the important trade across the Atlantic.

“We don’t have sufficient ships to make sure they’re with the carrier to do the carrier strike operations that need to be done.”

Lord West also spoke of how new warships, including Type 26 frigates with anti-submarine warfare are unlikely to be ready until the mid-2030s.

A UK soldier onboard a Brit Challenger 2 tank during training

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A UK soldier onboard a Brit Challenger 2 tank during trainingCredit: AP
British Royal Engineers squadron winter training 80 miles from the Russian border

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British Royal Engineers squadron winter training 80 miles from the Russian border
The UK must invest now in future warships, Lord West argued

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The UK must invest now in future warships, Lord West argued

“The last of them we won’t have until the 2040s or something. That is no good if a war happens in the next three to four years.”

The problem, he argued, was a lack of investment made far enough in advance that in the years to come will leave the Royal Navy will be left empty and vulnerable.

Lord West said: “Where is the money in the programme for these? There was no money in there until it was announced by Grant Shapps last week.

“And we’ve done this consistently with our orders within shipbuilding. And that is why we’re in the parlous state we are now.

“We should have made sure we ordered things earlier…. [because] suddenly there will be a drop, because ships will fall off the end of their lives and there’ll be nothing there.”

Britain’s armed forces strength in numbers

The UK is currently a Top 10 global military power, but comes in sixth place behind Russia, China, India and South Korea.

But what is our strength in numbers?

Manpower

According to official statistics published by Forces.net in January, the UK ranks 29th out of 145 nations for active personnel – 184,860.

It is 8th on the list for reserve personnel numbers with 924,000, so the total military personnel tops 1,108,860.

Royal Navy personnel totals 35,730 (18th), British Army is at 106,626 (36th) and there are 34,790 in the RAF (20th).

In contrast, Russia has 3,320,000 military personnel in total and China has 2,545,000.

Naval power

The UK has 117 naval assets, including two aircraft carriers (2nd), six destroyers (8th), 11 frigates (7th), 10 submarines (11th), 26 patrol vessels (37th) and nine mine warfare vessels (13th).

Russia has 781 naval assets (1st), China has 730 naval assets (2nd) and the US has 472 naval assets (4th).

Land power

The UK has 213 tanks (55th), 27,203 land vehicles (20th), 71 units of self-propelled artillery (42nd), 126 units of towed artillery (55th), 101 at readiness and 41 units of rocket artillery (52nd).

Those numbers include the tallies for those not at readiness.

Air power

The UK has 664 aircraft in total – 531 of which are at readiness.

This includes 120 fighter jets (20th), 29 attack (26th), 31 fixed-wing transport (25th), 219 trainers (11th), 26 special-mission (12th), Nine tankers (8th), 276 helicopters (15th), 52 attack helicopters (13th).

The US has a total of 13,209 aircraft (1st), Russia has 4,255 aircraft (2nd) and China has 3,304 total aircraft (3rd).

UK forces have been 'hollowed out' Lord West said

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UK forces have been ‘hollowed out’ Lord West said
British troops drive Jackal combat vehicles during a Nato military exercise in Poland

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British troops drive Jackal combat vehicles during a Nato military exercise in Poland
The Royal Navy's Merlin helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron, fires flares above HMS Prince of Wales

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The Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopter from 820 Naval Air Squadron, fires flares above HMS Prince of Wales
The ex-Royal Navy Chief and Falklands War hero  said the UK is not ready for a 'hot war'

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The ex-Royal Navy Chief and Falklands War hero said the UK is not ready for a ‘hot war’

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