Switzerland has more tanks than Britain even though it has not fought in 150 years.
Switzerland has more tanks than the British Army – even though it has not fought a war for more than 150 years.
The British have 227 active Challenger 2 tanks while the famously neutral Swiss have 380 German-made Leopard 2 vehicles.By contrast, Russia currently has 2,550 tanks and the US has 10,000.
Defence chiefs reduced the number of tanks used by Britain’s Armed Forces by 40 per cent in a 2010 review to save money, and now even the legendary Desert Rats are to be stripped of their Challengers.
In a shake-up announced last year by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, the 7th Armoured Brigade is to be redesignated as infantry and its heavy armoured vehicles parked up.
The switch was hidden in the small print of Mr Hammond’s announcement on fresh roles and bases for the Army over the next decade and provoked a furious backlash within the Army.
A military source said at the time: ‘It is a disgrace. This is the most famous tank brigade in the world ... and they are losing their tanks.’
Set up in 1938 to protect the Suez Canal, the Desert Rats earned their nickname in North Africa in the Second World War when, under General Montgomery, they won the battles of El Alamein that helped change the course of the war.
It was Britain that pioneered tank warfare, with 49 Mark I tanks storming German positions at the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916.
The British Army now has more horses than tanks, with more than 360 in its mounted units.