New Forest East



Dr Julian Lewis: It is clear that the supply and use of missiles has turned military assets such as ships, aircraft and tanks into costly losses and liabilities. The one gap appears to be artillery. I know the Secretary of State said that we are supplying some artillery, but as earlier episodes show, the counter to a weapons system is not necessarily the same weapons system but a missile to destroy it. What can be done to prevent Russia from using artillery to raze cities to the ground without engaging Ukrainian forces properly, which is the one area in which it still seems to be succeeding?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ben Wallace): My right hon. Friend has put his finger right on the heart of the current race. The race is on to equip the Ukrainians with the same long-range capabilities that Russia has, so that they are not outranged and pinned down. That is why we started first and foremost by sourcing 152 mm around the world – Soviet calibre – so they can keep going with that.

In parallel, we and a number of nations are exploring providing either 105 mm, which is our main lightweight gun, and the 155 mm in more mobile versions than the big armoured AS90s. One thing that this modern battlefield is showing is that people had better move quickly once they have fired their guns, because they can be very quickly found by pretty cheap off-the-shelf unmanned aerial vehicles. Exactly as my right hon. Friend said, there is a race on in parallel. We have now seen a number of eastern countries providing 155 mm howitzers; that unlocks NATO ammunition. We will play our part and make sure it gets to them.

In addition, the intelligence around artillery has to be improved, so we are exploring counter-battery radar, so that as soon as Russia fires a shell at you, you know exactly where it came from, and you can return the favour.]