Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Royal Artillery updates

As already reported on this site, with 19 Light Brigade being disbanded, the RA is set to lose a regiment, the 40th, a L118 Light Gun regiment.
Now more details have emerged, communicate through the Gunner Magazine to the force by the Director Royal Artillery, Brigadier NH Eeles.

Not all of 40 RA will vanish, though. The 3 Batteries of its Tactical Group (Tac Gp), with their vital Fire Support Teams, are to be transferred under other regiments of the artillery. In detail:

- By January 2012, it is planned that 6/36 (Arcot 1751) Bty Tac Gp and 38 (Seringapatam) "The Tigers" Bty Tac Gp will have been resubordinated to 4 Regt RA and 19 Regt RA respectively.

- The third and last Tac Gp battery, 137 (Java) Bty, is currently busy supporting 26 Regt RA on Op HERRICK15. The Bty Tac Gp is planned to have in April 2012 its rest and recovery period, prior to the final
passage to 26 Regt RA in November 2012.  

In terms of heritage, 40 RA carries the ethos of the Scottish Lowland gunners. This will be transferred, along with selected personnel and regiment heritage property, to 19 RA, which is set to become "Scottish Gunners" by combining its Highlands heritage with the Southlands. 

More news have also emerged about the incoming restructuring of the Close Support Regiments for the 5 Multi Role Brigades. 5 Batteries of AS90, one from each of the 5 regiments, will convert to the L118 Light Gun, by April 2012.

Future Army Structures also mandated the expansion of specialist GMLRS, UAV and STA regiments to 5 batteries each to better sustain enduring deployments:

- 32 RA supplies 3 mixed UAV batteries, with 47 Regiment supplying 2 more. 47 Regiment lost its close air defence role - it had been a HVM Starstreak regiment including a Battery destined to 16 Air Assault Brigade, including at least a troop parachute trained. Now 16AA apparently has no air defence battery, and no parachute capable troop, making the "parachute" part of the brigade concept less and less useful and justified) which meant that earlier this year three batteries, 42 (Alem Hamza) Bty RA, 43 Bty (Lloyd’s Company) RA and 25/170 (Imjin) Bty RA were demised.
The remaining Batteries are expected to line, each:

- 6 Watchkeeper drones plus GCS (2?).
- 12 Desert Hawk 3 detachments (Each detachment consists of a three-man ground control station crew who operate the system, and a two-man tac party, commanded by an officer or SNCO responsible for integrating DH3 into company operations, since DH3 Dets are assigned, normally, one per company/squadron to units and battlegroups involved in maneuvers. Each Det has several drones, which are carried in special rucksacks)
- 3 Talisman T-HAWK detachments (the VTOL mini-drone T-HAWK has been procured for the Talisman C-IED route clearance squadrons, and was initially operated by Royal Engineers operators. It has since been transferred to the UAV force of the Army to keep UAV expertise all in one place)

- 5 Regiment RA, Surveillance and Target Acquisition, is getting a Fifth Radar/Sound Ranging battery, 93 (Le Cateau) Bty RA

- 39 Regiment RA is getting a fifth GMLRS battery, 51 (Kabul 1842) Bty RA.

These last two batteries have been authorized by HQ Land last July and are being raised.

The 39 Regiment will bring, in the new year, a mixed Battery in Afghanistan as the Fire Shadow loitering ammunition is deployed for the first time, and brought in together with the standing presence of GMLRS launchers. The Fire Shadow Troop stood up last April.
It appears likely that, with the RA counting a lot on Fire Shadow for the future, in the long term the five GMLRS batteries will all become hybrid Btys, including rockets and loitering ammunitions.

The final variant of the LEAPP (Land Environment Air Picture Provision system), of which several components (namely the Giraffe ABM radar and "pre-releases" of the software and hardware) are already at work in Afghanistan, tracking aerial activity, deconflicting helicopters, planes and artillery shells firing in the busy Helmand sky and providing early warning against incoming fire.
The final LEAPP will have field trials in early 2012 and will finally be deployed in Afghanistan on Herrick 16 by 16 Regiment RA.

The system comes with 5 Giraffe ABM radars, each with CBRN protected shelter, all mounted on MAN SV trucks 8x8. There will also be 4 large control nodes, with embedded radios and Link 16 and integral CBRN protection, again mounted on 8x8 SV trucks. Last, there will also be 3 Air Picture Provision trailers: these will supply the same performances of the Control Node, but they are much smaller and much less expensive. They do not have embedded Bowman radios and data links (to work in the network they have to interface with the FALCON communications systems) and do not have CBRN protected shelters, but they can be much more easily flown-in to the deployment area in exchange.

British Army Giraffe ABM radar. The system can be set up for operations in roughly 10 minutes.

LEAPP detects, tracks, logs and displays not only all the air activity within the range of the integrated sensors including the position of blue forces, neutral air traffic, enemy activity, but also overlays this with other information including enemy positions, air corridors and restricted operating zones, providing an unrivalled and continuous situational awareness throughout the area of operations. Thanks to the Giraffe ABM it can also track ballistic weapons such as rockets, mortars and artillery shells, and figure out both their point of impact and their point of origin for exploitation (in this role, a "pre-release" is already active in Helmand, as said earlier). Good images in the article on this number of Gunner.

The comment that i feel i must make, is that the Royal Artillery, better than any other part of the Army so far, is adapting its structure and learning the lessons of operations. The expansion of the Tac Gps in the artillery regiments, the UAV force being restructured on a coherent force in which each "Theatre UAS Battery" is ready to deploy with a MRB and support the brigade in its ops for all of the pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment phases, the expansion of 5 Regiment and 39 Regiment, they are all signs that lessons are being learned and that, even amid cuts, there's a coherent plan being followed.

There's much work still to be done, but the RA is faring well so far. Upgrading the Warrior FV514 and securing the FRES SV Fire Support Vehicle for the future, and finding a way to retain, post-2015, the invaluable BASE-ISTAR Cortez system and expertise gained in years of hard work in Afghanistan must be true priorities, as the next steps of the restructuring. And, compliant to what the SDSR said, a plan for provision of C-RAM capability should also come along at some point.

Good luck, RA, and good work! Lots done, lots yet to do.


  1. QUOTE
    The comment that i feel i must make, is that the Royal Artillery, better than any other part of the Army so far, is adapting its structure and learning the lessons of operations.

    Is this your opinion after reading one magazine then, don't you think that is rather a wide ranging statement to make on the whole Army

  2. It is my opinion. I've also been very supportive of the MRB concept, but, wide ranging or not, there does not seem to be much in terms of clear ideas in the rest of the Army. The restructuring of the RA seems more promising, and it tackles some areas where more effort was clearly needed.

  3. Great post Gabriele.
    Nice to see some detail for a change on the future army structure.
    I agree with you, it's the first detailed information on how the Army is going to move towards a 5 plus 2 brigade system that i have heard, and hats off to the RA for being first.
    I hope to hear from the Infantry and RAC soon!

  4. It will be interesting, but probably also painful, to learn about the others, in particular the RAC which is set to become, if not regiment-wise, at least vehicle-wise, quite a lot smaller.
    The infantry might also lose as many as 8 battalions, according to rumors. I think 6 are pretty much goners, but 8 is really a bit too much, in my opinion.

    But this month should contain some info, from the Type 26 design choices to the first MOD equipment reports delayed ever since September. We'll see, i guess!

  5. Thanks for your reply Gabriele,
    The longer we wait for news, the worse I fear!
    On another subject, I caught the end of a TV programme on a stealth style UAV? It was being shown as if from a carrier? I assume it was a US project?

  6. I'm guessing it was about the UCASS, of the US Navy. The B47 Pegasus, which the US Navy would like to have ready for use on the carriers... well. As soon as they can manage. Possibly by 2018.

    The Pegasus prototypes are already out, and to prepare for it, an F18 has been fitted with automated landing software and made a perfect landing on a carrier at sea without the pilots doing a thing.

    In another series of tests, the US have demonstrated unmanned air to air refueling. I've covered all these things in several articles, included:

    About the UCASS B47, i talk of it in the FF2020 RAF page,
    You can find it scrolling down the page. It is near the end, when i talk of the various drone plans and possibilities.

    On my part, i'm hoping that the RN manages to get the MOD to insert carrier compatibility in the list of requirements for Telemos.
    They tried already with Watchkeeper, but the answer was negative, even despite Parliament observing that it wasn't a too smart thing.

    And then, of course, there's to hope that the UK-France UCAV (will it be based on Taranis...?) will be carrier capable as well.

    But you know. That would make sense.
    So it might well not happen.

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