1 - Force Troops Command and Royal Engineers
1 - Force Troops Command and Royal Engineers
2 – Royal Signals
3 - Royal Artillery
The following tables show the intended restructuring that the regular regiments of the Royal Artillery are to undergo as part of Army 2020. The information dates back to December 2012, and reports on the shape of the force as decided in September 2012. A number of changes had already taken place by that point, with some of the batteries of the disbanded 40th Regiment RA having been re-subordinated to other regiments. The changes outlined in the tables give the final intended Army 2020 structure of the Royal Artillery.
Despite the time that has passed, the information should still be valid in its entirety. Several of the changes outlined in the tables have already happened, others are underway. The fate of 29 Commando Royal Artillery should include the survival of all its batteries, but with a rather savage cutback in manpower: the three gun batteries seem to only line 12 guns in total, or four guns each, down from a normal figure of six. The regiment, according to a note from the commander, had been asked to modify its ORBAT to account for a reduction in manpower going as far up as 20%. The effect of the cut, however, was somehow softened by the uncomfortable truth that the regiment already was understrenght, so the number of redundancies was kept to a minimum.
For a long while, 148 Battery sat on the edge, about to be removed from the ORBAT, but it was eventually saved, thanks to the resistance put up by Royal Marines command and Navy HQ.
Possible further changes beyond those outlined here might come in the training regiment and in the various batteries employed in the training role as the Royal Artillery plans out the future.
The restructuring of 12 Royal Artillery regiment appears confirmed by the Force Troops Command document, which confirms that there will be three Stormer HVM batteries, one aligned with each of the armoured infantry brigades. The third battery on Stormer will be obtained by the re-roling of the current HQ Bty. A new battery identity, coming out of suspended animation, goes to the new HQ for the regiment.
16 Regiment Royal Artillery restructures on four Rapier batteries, and the two regiments share 42 Battery as an air defence support element.
49 Battery remains independent, as the user of the LEAPP system.
The Reserve will no longer supply Rapier formations, but 106 RA will instead deliver two reserve Stormer HVM (295 and 457 Bty) batteries and one LML battery (265 Bty).
Of particular interest is the evolution of the UAS force, which is already switching away from its current campaign posture, meant to support the enduring operations in Afghanistan, to a new structure aligned to the Army’s new shape.
This probably means that at least one battery will lose its “full spectrum” capability to focus only on mini-UAVs. Currently, the batteries are structured to include T-Hawk detachments for the support to EOD work in the Talisman convoys; Desert Hawk III detachments in support of both bases and mobile forces; and Hermes 450 task lines.
The force continues to support operation Herrick, and is also working towards consolidating in Larkhill, with 47 Regiment transferring from its current home in Thorney Island. 47 Regiment RA will move from Thorney Island to Larkhill in the summer, between June and July. 43 Battery is indeed already based in Roberts Barracks, Larkhill, and the rest is to gradually follow.
10 Bty, 47 Regiment also is about to deploy to Afghanistan for Herrick 20, and it seems that they will bring with them one Watchkeeper task line, for the first ever operational use of the new tactical UAS. In the meanwhile, the UAS personnel have seen their tours sized at four months, which means that personnel from the two regiments is rotated in and out of theatre regardless of the battery that is deployed in that specific moment. Personnel rotate under directions coming from the central management, and it is thus pretty normal to end up de-linked from the parent battery for periods of time.
It is very reassuring to see that the UAV force made up by 47 and 32 Regiments will express a powerful capability, spread over six “flying” batteries of unmanned air systems, plus two HQ batteries and a shared support battery.
Three UAS batteries will be aligned with the reaction force armoured infantry brigades, and are likely to retain the full spectrum structure. They will get Warthog vehicles modified to act as carriers for the Desert Hawk III detachments, and they will also have Viking vehicles carrying the ground tactical node of the Watchkeeper system.
Two more support the Adaptable Force, and hopefully will maintain the full-sprectrum structure as well. 21 (Gibraltar 1779-83) Battery, in the Very High Readiness air assault role appears likely to shift to a mini-UAV only role, more realistic to deploy in earnest, possibly from the air and with as little logistical footprint as possible, although I can’t confirm this at present. The battery so continues to be directly aligned with 16 Air Assault brigade, for which it once provided air defence with the Starstreak LML missile system. The air assault, very high readiness air defence role has now moved out to 12 (Minden) Battery in 12 Regiment, instead.
Another interesting element is the STA force, 5 Regiment RA. The regiment is to have its batteries changed to align them to the Reaction Force. One battery looks set to be “lighter” than the others, as 53 Bty is to be configured to provide STA support to 16 Air Assault Brigade in the very high readiness air assault role. It is probable that the battery will bear greater similitude with the Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron of 30 Commando IX than to the other three STA batteries of 5 RA, which will be heavier and include a full range of capabilities to support the three armoured infantry brigades.
These batteries will employ MAMBA, as well as the lightweight counter mortar radar, and the plan appears to include the retention of some of the CORTEZ base-ISTAR equipment, including the large surveillance aerostats. I read time ago that Royal Artillery and RAF Regiment were collaborating on base-ISTAR equipment, including the aerostats, and it makes a lot of sense: it would be very interesting to get fresher and more detailed information about this.
Unfortunately, there won’t be five “ready-to-go” STA batteries with the same, complete range of capabilities, which puts another problem on the planning schedule for a possible future enduring operation, and unfortunately the Adaptable Force misses out completely on having a STA formation aligned with its brigades. Support for training and for future deployments will thus present some serious challenges, in a repeat of the problem already evidenced in ICS support.
There used to be two reserve batteries in the STA role, but it appears that there will be none under Army 2020, as the existing batteries are converting to GMLRS.
The Honourable Artillery Company remains, however, on three squadrons providing additional covert special observation patrols for the reinforcement of 4/73 Sphinx battery.
It is also finally confirmed that the intended structure of the Adaptable Force Artillery Regiments, 3rd RHA and 4th RA, includes only two Light Gun batteries, and a doubled complement of Fire Support Teams, in two (three, even, in 4th Regiment) TAC batteries instead of the canonic one. It seems clear that the idea is that regulars are better employed in the demanding FST role, while reserves from the paired regiment can provide additional guns. 3rd RHA is paired with 105 RA, while 4th RA is paired with 103 RA. It seems to remain the plan that, for reasons of geographical convenience, 3rd RHA will also support 101 RA, the Reserve GMLRS regiment, despite the different roles and equipment of the two units.
Each of the two Reserve light gun regiments has four gun batteries.
|The Royal Artillery reserve regiments under Army 2020|
The changes to the Air Assault artillery regiment, 7th Royal Horse Artillery, have taken place as planned, and the remaining gun batteries have taken up the equipment and role of the gone Aviation TAC Gp Battery, bringing it into smaller but full-capability packages that can rotate in support of the airborne task force at high readiness.
The structure of the Reaction Force artillery regiments is also confirmed, with three AS-90 batteries supported by a GMLRS (and Exactor) precision fire battery.
The future will tell if the Fire Shadow loitering ammunition will find a long-term place in the Army beyond the 39 Regiment’s Troop which has taken it for evaluation and trials.