The British Army has sent a tank through the Channel Tunnel for the first time – to practise getting armoured vehicles to Eastern Europe quickly in case of a crisis with Russia.

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The military exercise saw five armoured vehicles transported to France on train wagons in the early hours of Wednesday.

 

A Challenger tank and matching recovery vehicle, a Warrior armoured fighting vehicle, a Warrior recovery vehicle and a reconnaissance vehicle were all sent across the Channel during the exercise.

 

They made the 40-minute return journey a few hours later.

 

The drill came as Top Brass look for new ways to deploy heavy armour from the UK after our bases in Germany are closed in the next few years.

 

It  was carried out by civilian logistics contractors because the Army’s rail transport specialists were axed as a result of defence budget cuts, apart from some reservists.

 

Exercises transporting military equipment on rail networks used to be commonplace during the Cold War, but gradually fell out of favour as military operations focused on deployment in the Middle East.

 

The Ministry of Defence said: “The Army successfully conducted an exercise to test the viability of using the Channel Tunnel to move vehicles and equipment to mainland Europe, adding to the existing range of options available and increasing the agility of our Armed Forces.”