Britain's military aid to Ukraine has an enormous cost, and the country’s head of the Armed Forces says that the U.K’s stockpile of weapons could take “years” to replenish.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the Chief of the Defence Staff says that replacing even Britain's less-sophisticated munitions and armaments could take the country “several years” due to limitations and constraints of Britain’s industrial capacity.
Speaking to the Lord's International Relations and Defence Committee in Parliament on Wednesday, Radakin estimated that it could take “five to 10 years” for the U.K to deploy a division with the capacity to fight alongside its American counterparts.
“We could throw out a division now, but it’s not the one we would want,” he said, the Independent reported.
Essentially, Britain is unable to field a properly-equipped division under current circumstances – and the provision of firearms, munitions and military equipment to Ukraine has severely diminished the U.K’s capacity to conduct a war.
Since the onset of the Russian invasion in February, Britain has provided the Ukrainian military with a host of armored vehicles, anti-tank rocket launchers, anti-aircraft systems, and missiles.
Replacing those weapons has become a pressing concern with members of Parliament, with some describing the existing stockpile as “insufficient” and calling for the country to remobilize its production of weapons.
As detailed by the Independent, Radakin said that the “rate of expenditure” of munitions in Ukraine and the “industrial capacity to backfill” the weapons it provided Ukraine was already a “significant issue” even prior to the invasion.
Like many European countries, Britain has cut back on its production of military equipment and munitions and has come to depend on the security and protection offered by the United States military to carry out military operations worldwide. Even so, foreign engagements have been extremely limited in scope, paling in comparison to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
As detailed by Alex Vershinin in the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), “The war in Ukraine has proven that the age of industrial warfare is still here. The massive consumption of equipment, vehicles and ammunition requires a large-scale industrial base for resupply – quantity still has a quality of its own.”
Vershinin writes that the mass-scale of combat, which involves more than half a million total combatants, has seen copious use of munitions by both sides, with Russia fully capable of resupplying and replenishing the needs of its troops while Ukraine’s military struggles even with the help of foreign military aid.
The West’s capacity to produce weapons at a mass scale, rivaling that of Russia and China, has severely diminished in the past few decades, even with the expansion of private military companies.
“Currently, the West may not have the industrial capacity to fight a large-scale war. If the US government is planning to once again become the arsenal of democracy, then the existing capabilities of the US military-industrial base and the core assumptions that have driven its development need to be re-examined,” he wrote.