Defence secretary Bob Ainsworth also said that a cull in the number of top officers and a coalition with the French army were on the cards ahead of a post-election spending review that will put “real pressure” on budgets.
Outlining a Green Paper on military reform, Ainsworth told the House of Commons that “no nation can hope to protect all aspects of national security acting alone”.
The announcement followed an angry session of Prime Minister’s questions in which David Cameron accused Gordon Brown of under-funding the military in the run up to the Iraqi and Afghan wars.
Cameron was seizing on comments made by Sir Kevin Tebbit, the former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence, who told the Iraq inquiry that Gordon Brown had “guillotined” the MoD’s funding when he was chancellor in 2003.
Britain’s biggest defence firm BAE shed two per cent to close at 340.3p on fears that a smaller British military could dent its earnings.
Goldman Sachs added the stock to its “conviction sell” list, saying it was “increasingly concerned on the outlook for defence spending in the UK”.