Britain, the nation that invented the tank, is set to stop making it's own tanks.
In the week British troops formally ended their military operations in Iraq, BAe Systems, which makes the Army's Challenger 2 tanks, revealed it was closing its tank-making operation at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
It's also going to be closing a number of other plants and there will, of course, be knock on effects on supporting industries as a result of the government failing to place any new orders for tanks.
Defence Secretary John Hutton has declared 'a rebalancing of investment in technology, equipment and people to meet the challenge of irregular warfare'.
I'm the first to admit that there is a need for new technology and equipment to "meet the challenge of irregular warfare", but it's stupid to believe that the tank is no longer necessary. The Defence Secretary should know as well as anyone that as recently as 2003 there was a very definite need for tanks in regular warfare as it was his bloody government that sent them in!
Not only that, but does anyone really believe that there could never be a time where war - conventional war - might break out again closer to home?
General Patrick Cordingley, Commander of the Desert Rats in the first Gulf War, warned: 'I think we have got ourselves into a real tangle here. If you look at the economic troubles of the 1930s, it ended in a terrible war.
'Are we saying it could never happen again, that we will not be drawn into a war where we will need a full range of forces and equipment?'
Exactly. It appears that our government may decide to still use tanks - but that they will be Swedish chassis topped with German guns. Great news if you''re a Swedish or German defence worker, but not as good for our British workers.
The most ridiculous thing about this is that it isn't as if the equipment we make is no good. The Challenger 2 is quite probably the best tank in the world - with the best gun. The only other tank to defeat a Challenger 2 in combat was another Challenger 2! Certainly something which the other MBTs to see regular action can not claim - the US Abrams, Soviet T series and Israeli Merkava.
This will be the final nail in the coffin of Britain's major defence industries. Not that long ago - even in my lifetime - we had a proud and successful record. It wasn't just our tanks - the Centurion and Chieftain - which were among the best in the world, we had the best aircraft and the best ships - all of which were made in Britain using British technology, British materials and built by British workers.
I know many people argue that a country as small as ours can't maintain a major defence industry - but fail to recognise that countries like Sweden, France and Germany can. Why is it they can and we can not? Why are we going to be reliant on those nations to provide us with the equipment we need for our army, navy and air force.
I've mentioned before that if the government really wanted to stimulate the economy they would best do so by re-equipping our armed forces with British built equipment. Instead, they are intent on killing off what little defence industry we have left.
It's a disgrace.