Britain’s ammo stocks would run out in a day if it fought Russia – as a top former General said years of cuts have left military’s stores bare.
The warning from General Sir Richard Barrons comes a day after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK’s forces have been ‘hollowed out’, adding that military spending may have to rise for two decades, owing to global threats.
Dr Jack Watling, at military think tank Rusi, said Ukraine had been firing around 6,000 shells a day, but we rely on imported explosives for tank and artillery shells.
Our ammo plants, run by defence contractor BAE, would take a year to make a day’s shells for Ukraine, sources said.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Britain has no working heavy artillery guns after giving all serviceable AS90 self-propelled items to Ukraine.
General Barrons said the Army requires £3 billion more a year to rejoin Nato’s top tier.
In his column for The Sun, he wrote: ‘This is truly shocking. But it is true. And we must fix it.
‘The UK spends more on defence than any EU ally and our brave Armed Forces have long been one of Britain’s most influential levers around the world.
‘Yet for decades they have been hollowed out by spending cuts.’
Mr Wallace said: ‘As the world gets more dangerous, defence should get a growing proportion of spend.
‘The world is more unstable and likely to remain so for a decade or two.’
Speaking in Portsmouth the defence secretary warned that the military has been ‘hollowed out’ in recent decades under various governments.
Mr Wallace also responded to urgent calls from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
‘I’m open to examining all systems, not just jets. But these things don’t always happen overnight,’ he added.
Of Ukraine’s fighters he said: ‘Even if tomorrow we announced we were going to put them in fast jets, that would take months.
‘You’re suddenly having to learn to pilot a fast jet, so there is no magic wand.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Mr Wallace want to send a squadron of tanks to the country, which could arrive by the end of next month.
The MoD said it was boosting ammo stockpiles to ‘more than pre-invasion levels’ with an extra £560 million from the Treasury.
Defence chiefs have pledged all 30 working AS90s to Kyiv and are now urgently seeking K9 Thunders and Archer guns to replenish their stocks, it was recently reported.
The spokesperson said the Army is now focused on accelerating the ‘Mobile Fires Platform project which is designed to deliver an enduring replacement this decade’.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The granting in kind of AS90 will provide an important increase in Ukraine’s capabilities and will help to accelerate Ukrainian success on the battlefield.
‘Concurrently, the Army is continuing to meet its operational AS90 commitment in Estonia.’