Future British Armed Forces Takes Shape

Released on Wednesday, July 21, 2004
United Kingdom
AH-64D Apache
C-17A Globemaster III
Challenger 2
F-35A Lightning II
FGM-148 Javelin
Javelin Block 0
Nimrod MRA4
Paveway IV
Storm Shadow
Tornado ADV
Tornado Gr4
Type 23
Type 42
Type 45
AMRAAM - Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile
ASRAAM - Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile
FRES - Future Rapid Effect System
HMS - Her Majesty Ship
MoD - Ministry of Defence
RAF - Royal Air Force
UK - United Kingdom
The UK Ministry of Defense recently released a paper expressing the British Army capabilities needed to effectively deal with the 21st century challenges. The paper "Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities" was published at http://www.mod.uk/issues/security/.

The paper sets out that the British forces will suffer a major reduction of current military holdings to achieve a greater deployability, better targeted action, and swifter outcomes.

The balanced British Land Force of the future will consists of two heavy armored brigades (Challenger 2 -based), three medium-weight brigades (based around FRES), one light brigade, one air assault brigade and one commando brigade. To do so, three additional light armored squadrons will be established, turn one Challenger 2 regiment into a reconnaissance regiment, and re-role one AS90 artillery regiment into a light gun regiment. Later, three artillery regiments will be equipped with the Light Mobile Artillery Weapon System (LMAWS).

The new Apache attack helicopter to enter service later this year, the Javelin weapon system, improved precision artillery rounds slated for the second half of this decade will help transform the British Army. Seven Challenger heavy armor squadrons and six AS90 artillery batteries will be suppressed by early 2007.

The MoD also plans to reduce the investment in ground-based air defenses thanks to the improvements in air dominance supplied by advanced weapon systems such as the EF2000 Typhoon fighter. This means that only 24 Rapier fire units and 84 HVM (Starstreak) launch units will be required by both the Royal Air Force and the British Army. Moreover, saving plans will permit the MoD to order additional HVM missiles worth £180 million ($321 million).

The British Army will reduce the total number of infantry battalions from 40 to 36. Each regiment will consists of two or more battalions in largely fixed locations allowing individuals to move easily between these battalions. The final design of the British regiments will be released by the end of the year. The overall size of the Army will be 102,000.

The two new large aircraft carriers with the Joint Combat Aircraft will provide the core capability to project military power from the sea. Acquisition of eight Type 45 destroyers and decommissioning of three Type 42 destroyers (HMS Cardiff, Newcastle and Glasgow) are the highlights of the AAW protection forces.

In the Anti-submarine warfare arena, the Royal Navy will deploy the new Type 2087 low frequency active sonar and three Type 23 frigates (HMS Norfolk, Marlborough and Grafton) would be decommissioned by March 2006. The Royal Navy is considering the replacement of 16 Nimrod MR2 by 12 more capable Nimrod MRA4 aircraft.

The future attack submarine force will comprise eight nuclear-powered submarines. Up to four Astute-class submarines are being procured alongside the latest generation of Tomahawk land attack missile. Land attack capability is a benchmark for the submarine force of the future.

The Royal Navy will retain only eight Hunt and eight Sandown class mine countermeasures vessels. Royal Navy's manpower due to all these changes will reduce to 36,000.

The British air power will rely on Eurofighter Typhoon and Joint Combat Aircraft (F-35) while legacy Tornado Gr4 providing precision attack capability. Precision-guided and advanced weapons such as AMRAAM, ASRAAM, Storm Shadow and Paveway IV will backup this capability.

One Tornado F3 squadron and two Jaguar squadrons will be withdrew from active service between 2006 and 2007. Only 41,000 airmen will be required by the RAF in 2008.

The Royal Air Force will depend on the C-130J and A400M cargo aircraft for rapid deployments of materiel and personnel. The RAF also intends to purchase the four C-17s leased with one additional C-17 bringing the total number of C-17s to five.

Finally, the number of civilian jobs will be reduced by 10,000 getting additional savings as well.


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