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UNITED FORCES READY
By Mark Romanow
During the past Century the United Kingdom (UK) has undergone a significant period of retrenchment that is now mainly over since the 1997 withdrawal from it’s last major Imperial possession, Hong Kong. The UK has also seen it’s position as the World’s foremost Maritime power somewhat eclipsed by the United States.
The operational advantages conferred by retaining the pre-eminent allvolunteer professional force in the world have been tempered by the spinoff effects of a demilitarized society. Some of the decision makers have had little first hand understanding of what is required to achieve goals set for the military, and defence issues tend to attract little public attention. The campaign for the general elections in 1997 virtually ignored defence spending as an issue, while the media is generally under the impression that the end of the ‘Cold War’ has left the military with no visible role. Successive cuts imposed by the ‘Options for Change’ defence reviews since 1990 have reduced the overall strength of the Armed Forces strength by some 32%, from 315,000 to 215,000. The Royal Navy (RN) has seen the number of submarines in service decrease from 28 to 12, some 57%. Meanwhile the British Army’s tank force has been reduced by 45% and the number of aircraft in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) has seen it’s frontline strength decrease by some 30 %. Meanwhile the increased operational tempo since the end of the ‘Cold War’ has seen up to 35,000 personnel deployed away from their bases, and families, for extended periods of time. This includes places like Bosnia and overseas naval deployments and well as continuing security responsibilities for Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and the Falklands.
Besides national responsibilities the UK maintains its numerous commitments to NATO and also plays a role in numerous UN operations such as Cyprus. It provides the leadership and plays a leading role in the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), which is presently NATO’s primary field formation, by providing over 1/ th. of the field formations assigned to 5 the ARRC.
Basic Facts: United Kingdom
Total Area Terrain 242,000 sq km. Also some 13 dependent territories The UK is a densely populated country, particularly in the South. England is predominantly a lowland country, with upland regions in the north. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have hills and low mountains, containing areas of wild unspoilt landscape 58.8 million Predominantly Christian English London
Population Religion Languages Capital
Ethnic Groups 94.5% Country of origin
Government Democratic monarchy
Vol.4, No. 4
FOR FOR ANYTHING PHOTOS COURTESY OF UK MINISTER OF DEFENCE KINGDOM Two TORNADO Aircraft Escort a NIMROD Patrol Aircraft .
Ocean is able to carry most of a Royal Marine Commando. RAF Units VANGUARD 14 Vol. No.NATO DEFENCE BUDGET: Approx. along with a full squadron of HC4 transport helicopters and 6 Lynx attack helicopters.9 billion ROYAL NAVY This fall the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean set sail. The 3 Astute class fleet submarines on order will allow the submarine force to keep up with the most recent technological advances and remain a modern capable force. will allow the RN to replace the existing ships which will have been in service for over 37 years.4. Albion and Bulwark.500 personnel Submarines: Strategic (4) and Fleet (12) Carriers: Aircraft (3) and Helicopter (1) Destroyers and Frigates Amphibious Ships Fighters (Sea Harrier) Helicopters: AEW (13) and Commando (36) 110 Large and Light Maritime Helicopters 16 4 34 7 49 49 Army 112. The 44 Merlin helicopters on order for the RN will be a welcome improvement to the anti-submarine warfare helicopter fleet.000 Territorial Army 386 Challenger II Tanks 394 Light Recce Vehicles 3504 Armoured Vehicles: Tracked (2849) and Wheeled (655) 179 Self Propelled Artillery 108 Towed Artillery 62 Multiple Launch Rocket System launchers 175 Tracked Anti-air launchers 99 Attack Helicopters 183 Light Transport Helicopters Army Field Formations 7 10 15 5 13 1 7 Brigades: Heavy (6) and Airmobile (1) Armoured Regiments Artillery Regiments Army Air Corps Regiments Engineer Regiments NBC Regiment Royal Logistics Corps Regiments Royal Air Force 56. Current Force Levels: Royal Navy 45.000 personnel plus 55. including 40 vehicles.064 personnel 6 87 154 82 23 116 13 5 5 5 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Fighter Aircraft Strike Aircraft Transport and Tanker Maritime Patrol (Nimrod) Support Helicopters RAF Regiment Squadrons Air Defence Squadrons Strike Support Squadrons Offensive Support Squadrons Lynx helicopter keeps an eye on Sea King and Harriers operating off HMS INVINCIBLE. Sea Crusader and Sea Chieftan. which have recently entered service they will provide a sorely needed boost for strategic lift forces. Additionally. 4 . £ 23. From 2002 the 2 new Assault ships. The integral helicopters will allow for a more flexible tactical mobility and will be able to provide inherent air support to amphibious forces. Combined with the transports. the 12 proposed project Horizon air-defence ships will be a vast improvement over the present outdated ships.
this will allow the RAF to standardize it’s main strike fleet. This will provide the armoured regiments with a robust force capable of defeating most opponents. some 21 Nimrod airframes are being comprehensively rebuilt into the MR Mk 4 standard which will utilize advanced electronics systems to allow them to detect advanced 4th generation submarines. which is being jointly developed with the USA. ROYAL AIR FORCE The RAF’s strike capability is being significantly enhanced through the mid-life upgrade of 142 Tornado GR1/1A/1B aircraft into GR4/4A standard. will greatly enhance recce capabilities and allow for the replacement of the current platforms based on the ageing Scorpion chassis. the Apache Longbow attack helicopter. will allow the eventual replacement of three differing types of APC’s and greatly simplify maintenance requirements. which is being purchased jointly with the French and German armies. All GR4’s will be able to undertake the tasks formerly undertaken on a specialized basis throughout the fleet as well as greatly enhancing their navigational accuracy through the use of ‘state of the art’ digital map generators. On a related note. No. It is also planned to replace the 105mm light artillery with a light 155 mm system which will increase firepower. b Airborne soldier Mark Romanow is an independent defence/geopolitical analyst based in Edmonton. Also.NATO ARMY The Army is in the midst of progressively replacing it’s Challenger I tanks with the improved Challenger II’s. will greatly enhance the army’s anti-armor and fire-support capabilities and allow for replacement of some of the older British soldier makes new friends in Rwanda Lynx helicopters. British TORNADO aircraft VANGUARD 15 Vol. which started delivery this fall. the continuing replacement of the Hercules C Mk 1 fleet by the 15 new stretched C-130J-30’s (C Mk 4) and 10 standard length C-130J (C Mk 5). 4 . The proposed MultiRole Armoured Vehicle. the proposed TRACER reconnaissance vehicle. which is just beginning to enter service. will confer a vast improvement upon the performance of the RAF’s tactical transport fleet. Additionally.4. To allow the Maritime Patrol fleet to operate well into the 21st Century.