THE Army is to lose 9,000 troops to leave it with only 73,000 — the fewest in more than 300 years.

Thirty three bases will also be axed to free up money for high-tech weapons such as robots.

Famous battalions including the Black Watch and Irish Guards will lose up to half their numbers.

Top Brass said their focus would shift to fighting at range, using cyber weapons, psychological warfare, swarming disposable drones and long-range missiles.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “It will be an Army designed for genuine war fighting . . .  prioritising speed and readiness over mass and mobilisation.”

Defence officials said around 20 Challenger 2 tanks will be stationed in Estonia to guard the Russian frontier. Forty more will be based in Germany.

Labour said the cuts left the Army “too small, too thinly stretched, too poorly equipped”.

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