Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Army 2020 in detail: Royal Artillery

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. 

The Integrated UAS Batteries as shaped by the Afghanistan experience. Note to the equipment detail: Desert Hawk III and T-Hawk are both being brought into core budget. It is almost certain that Black Hornet will also be retained. Black Hornet is the only army UAS that is employed by infantry instead of RA specialists.
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. 


  1. Where did you get the pictures from?

  2. Ah! The RA Post.

    Great stuff.

    I'll just get my Tea then settle in.

    1. A good read. Thank you.

      Will the 3 SP gun regiments line 18 guns d owe know?

      How many GMLRS per regular battery, 6 ?

      And for the reserves? 4 at most ?

      I assume if there are 4 batteries in the L Gun reserve regiments that would be 3 guns each?

      Do we have any more data re base ISTAR and the aerostats?

    2. The AS-90 were given as six in each of the three batteries. GMLRS in theory should again be six per battery, unless they are forced to trade some in order to bring EXACTOR in. Not clear yet on which vehicle Exactor will be re-installed, nor how it will be assigned. I suppose it will arm a Troop in the Precision Fires Battery, but how many launchers will be in it, is not known.

      The GMLRS updated and operational should be 36. That would cover the regular batteries and leave another 18 that the reserve regiment could use, rotating them between the batteries when more are needed for training.

      I don't know how many assigned guns are available for the reserve batteries, and unfortunately we do not yet have details about the future use of CORTEZ and the aerostats.

  3. In particular the UAS diagram.

    1. The tables appeared on Gunner magazine at the time, but the issue is not online, at least not that i know of.

      The UAS battery diagram was in a presentation by 32 Regiment RA some time ago. It is online here:


  4. Gaby

    A fine article

    "These batteries will employ MAMBA, as well as the lightweight counter mortar radar,"

    Wasn't there also a plan to introduce a new longer-range radar to replace the COBRA. I don't know what has happened to that. Is it yet another planned equipment that has fallen by the wayside?

    Regarding Fire Shadow and its evaluation and trials in a troop belonging to 39 Regiment RA. As I understand it, that Regiment is being disbanded, therefore presumably Fire Shadow, if it enters service, will have to be somehow fitted into one of the new combined AS90/GMLRS regiments. Is there room for it, especially as Exactor will now be used by one of the troops in each regiment. Could the Reserve GMLRS regiments take it, do you feel? I think there is a future for loitering munitions, especially if we have to fight another Afghanistan-type campaign. Incidentally, there is still no news on C-RAM weaponry, even though it was mentioned in a SDSR a short time ago.

    Do you think Warthog has been been kept not only as the carrier for the Desert Hawk III detachments, but also for other possible roles in case we have another scenario where a fast, mobile, all-terrain, quite well protected vehicle is needed?

    I wish I could find time to reply to Anon about the size of the /Army (post on Royal Signals) but can't find it at the moment.

    1. The Common Weapon Locating Radar program sadly looks to have been put back into the box for the moment indeed. The loss of COBRA leaves just six MAMBA systems, without anything with higher performances. MAMBA's OSD has been moved well into the 2020s, apparently.
      It was rumored that the system will be transferred from the current BV206 carrier vehicles to Warthog, though.

      Fire Shadow is tricky. If it enters service, it could and probably should fit into the AS90/GMLRS regiments, but those look already full. Reserves might be an option, but i'm not convinced. Fire Shadow might end up in a battery in the UAS force, considering that it does have several points of contact with UAVs. But it is a wild guess.

      C-RAM: will have to keep an open eye on that as part of the re-vitalized projects to renew the air defence capabilities of the army. But there does not seem to be an acquisition in sight in the near future.

      As for Warthog, no, i think they are only keeping it for special roles in the Intelligence and Surveillance brigade. The rest of the fleet will be disposed of, for what as been said so far.

  5. Gaby

    Many thanks for that reply.

  6. I've just read a report that HMS Duncan is currently being fitted with harpoons, Do you know if this report is accurate?

    1. The Royal Navy website says she will be the first Type 45 to get Harpoon, and it was seen already in the past months undergoing work in the area where Harpoon would fit, under the cover of a white tent. However, since then HMS Duncan has taken to the sea again, and sailed to Oslo for the 200 years of the norwegian navy, and Harpoon is still not installed. It should arrive soon enough, though.

  7. Which makes most sense?

    Armd Inf Bdes to have organic AS90 Regiments (Strike Bdes having organic 105 (or new SP wheeled/towed 155mm) regiments). With MLRS and UAV Regts.

    Or Bde Arty Regts with organic field artillery (AS90 or 105/155mm) batteries, a MLRS Bty and a UAV Bty


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