Army forks out £26m on tanks that can only be driven by troops under 5ft 7in

Bumbling army bosses have splashed out £26 million on tanks that can only be driven by soldiers under 5ft 7in.

Belgium’s top brass wanted to make their Pandur fleet better-protected against landmines, and add a raised floor and air conditioning.

However, the changes have created a “very serious nuisance” and the new floor “makes getting in and out very difficult”.

44 of the military’s armoured vehicles are now no longer safe to be used.

A leaked report said: “Anyone taller than 1.70 m cannot get in or out, and the driver cannot even reach the pedals.”

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Belgium has some of the tallest people in the world, with men standing at 5ft 10in on average.

The upgrade also prevents soldiers from braking or properly steering.

The test group considers “all Pandurs that received the Midlife Update non-operational and non-roadworthy for safety reasons”.

Green MEP Wouter De Vriendt compared it to money being "thrown out of the windows".

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The military admitted that the modified Pandurs were not immediately usable but had only gone through an initial upgrade.

Defence spokesman Yves Dupont said: "It won't be ready until it's had the entire modification.

"As far as ergonomics are concerned, the findings were known."

He also maintained "in this type of vehicle, you've always had height restrictions”.

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Back in November, the UK military announced numbers have fallen to their lowest level since World War Two as more than 15,000 soldiers quit in the past year.

Top brass are now struggling to find enough troops to deliver a “high readiness combat force” fit for the frontline.

Despite recruitment, Army manpower has dropped from 82,000 to 73,470 – a fall of 10.4% – leaving all regiments short.

And more than 13,000 of these are medically unfit to deploy and cannot be sent to war.

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