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Restocking weapons UK has given to Ukraine to resist Putin’s invasion will take ‘several years’, warns head of the armed forces
- Admiral Sir Tony Radakin has been giving evidence to House of Lords members
- Chief of Defence Staff said could be ‘years’ to restock weapons given to Ukraine
- Pointed to lack of industrial capacity in Britain and high international demand
Restocking the weapons the UK has given to Ukraine will take ‘several years’, the head of the armed forces warned today.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said the lack of industrial capacity in Britain meant that topping up supplies – such as N-Laws and Brimstone missiles – would not happen quickly.
Giving evidence to peers, the Chief of the Defence Staff also raised concerns it could take ‘five to 10 years’ before the UK could deploy a division with the capabilities to fight alongside US forces.
The UK has provided a wide range of weapons to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, including anti-tank rocket launchers, armoured vehicles and anti-aircraft systems.
Boris Johnson has been praised as one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters by Volodymyr Zelensky, with reports of troops shouting ‘God Save the Queen’ as they target Putin’s forces.
However, replacing those weapons has become a concern for some in Parliament.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said the lack of industrial capacity in Britain meant that topping up supplies – such as N-Laws and Brimstone missiles – would not happen quickly
Ukraine shows off devastating British-made Brimstone missiles in action against Russia
On June 16, the former head of the Royal Navy Lord West described the UK’s weapons stockpiles as ‘insufficient’ and called for the country to start producing weapons ‘almost on a 24/7 basis’.
Admiral Radakin acknowledged that the ‘rate of expenditure’ of weapons in Ukraine and the ‘industrial capacity to backfill’ had already become ‘a significant issue’.
Increased demand for weapons, both in the UK and Europe, along with Britain’s decline in industrial capacity over recent decades and current supply chain problems have added to those issues.
Admiral Radakin said the Government needed to work with defence suppliers, and had already invited 12 leading companies to Downing Street for talks.
But he added: ‘We are then talking in years, because you cannot whistle up with modern weapons a quick production line.
‘Yes, you can churn out shells and artillery, but even at the not super-sophisticated end, even at the modest end of an NLAW (anti-tank) weapon, then that’s going to take several years to get back to our original stocks.’
Asked by former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Campbell whether the UK could deploy a full division, Admiral Radakin said it was possible but the armed forces were ‘regrowing’ its ability to return to ‘a much more orthodox divisional strength’ including longer-range weapons and modern vehicles.
He said: ‘We can put out a division, but the division that we want to put out is a much better one in sort of five to 10 years’ time, with the capabilities that America would want fighting alongside America.’
Boris Johnson has been praised as one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters by Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured together in Kyiv on Friday)