Thursday, April 2, 2020

The British Combat Aviation Brigade

It has been in the works for quite some time, and will be a building site for several years still, but the UK is finally standing up its own Combat Aviation Brigade to bring some order in the convoluted and overlapping command arrangements of its helicopter forces.
I’ve known about this plan for many months, but couldn’t really talk about it before some sort of official announcement was released. This finally happened yesterday, even if, primarily because of the pandemic, it was an extremely low-key news.

I’ve been and I remain extremely critical of much of what the Army is doing and saying about its future, but for all it’s worth I can certainly say I am a big supporter of this one move. It is arguably long, long overdue and the brigading of the units involved in fielding aviation groups in support of british land forces has long featured in my recommendations for the future structures of the Army. 

The Wings of what once was 24 Air Mobile Brigade have been chosen as the TRF for the new 1 star command, 1st Aviation Brigade (1st Avn Bde). Fun fact: in my proposals for the future, as far back as 2013, I had seen this coming. It has to be admitted, however, that it was a relatively easy guess: the other likely candidate was the Striking Eagle badge that used to be 16 Air Assault Brigade’s symbol until the return of Pegasus In 2018 and which has stuck around since as badge of the Attack Helicopter Force.

Back to serious matters, 1st Aviation Brigade is the main component of a wider restructuring of Army aviation (known as Project COLINDALE) which has been very, very slowly progressing ever since 2015.
Primary drivers for change are the need to generate efficiencies; the need to build a C2 construct capable to brigade aviation elements in support of a Divisional deployment, rather than penny-packet groups only suited to brigade or sub-brigade deployments; and the ongoing review of the infrastructure footprint of the Army Air Corps.

Notoriously, all three Services have had to craft a plan to divest a lot of bases, barracks and land in an effort to achieve savings and enable the modernization of the remaining infrastructure. Army Aviation is supposed to do its bit in this project, but decisions on the future footprint remain elusive. Essentially, the biggest dilemma is whether to close down Middle Wallop or Wattisham, since Yeovilton is going nowhere and there isn’t a real alternative to keeping Aldergrove for operations in Northern Ireland.

Operations in Arctic conditions have been intense between 2019 and 2020, with the debut of british Apaches in Norway and their first arctic use of Hellfire missiles. This is part of the as yet unpublished "UK Defence in the High North" strategy in which the UK committs to a much increased role on the Norway flank of NATO for the next decade. 

From what can be observed from the outside, the closure of Wattisham with the migration soutwards of the Apache squadrons is the desired outcome, but clearly the complexity and cost of the move are very much preventing the sealing of a definitive plan. It is clear that the time for such a move is now, if not yesterday, since the transition between the current AH1 standard and the new Block III standard is soon to begin on the flightline, with the first remanufactured helicopters arriving this year. The Army would like to co-locate all Apache training phases, currently split between Conversion To Type carried out by 673 AAC at Middle Wallop and Conversion To Role  done by 653 AAC, Wattisham, with the ultimate objective of also merging the 2 squadrons into a single one (653 AAC).
3 and 4 Regiments will remain otherwise relatively unchanged, each with its two frontline squadrons and with an uplift to manpower in the ground element to sustain an higher operational tempo for high intensity operations.

In terms of Command and Control, aviation groups have so far deployed under the control of HQs pieced together from disparate Joint Helicopter Command resources, assigned to the commander of one of the constituent forces. The Commander of the Attack Helicopter Force has been the core for one such “makeshift” Aviation Task Force (ATF-1); Commando Helicopter Force provides another (ATF-2) and Support Helicopter Force (RAF Chinook and Puma 2 squadrons) provide the basis for a third.

The use of Force Commanders and augmentees from JHC is no longer judged sufficient as it lacks the command capacity and battle staff power needed to plan, refine and execute multiple tasks at the necessary speed, concurrency and endurance.
The formation of a permanent 1-star command with associated staff also offers the benefit of providing a “plug-in point” that better enables integration with international forces and, primarily, with the US Army’s own Combat Aviation Brigades. Most countries the UK will be working with, have long had a 1-star Aviation HQ directing employment of Aviation Battlegroups, and others, like France, have in recent times gone in the same direction.

1st Aviation Brigade, based in Middle Wallop, will be born out of the progressive merging of the current Attack Helicopter Force (AHF) command element (the overarching command sitting above 3 and 4 Regiments AAC) with the Aviation Reconnaissance Force (ARF, essentially the overarching command element overseeing 1 and 5 Regiments AAC) and later of the Watchkeeper Force (WKF) as well.
Instead of having separate AHF and ARF forces, the Avn Bde will instead be a deputy commader in chief for the ATTACK and one for the FIND functions.

In preparation for the more ambitious role of Aviation in future Divisional operations, several large scale operations have seen whole AAC Apache squadrons flying long range strikes across the UK and even deep into France. The teaming of Wildcat and Apache, including the use of the first to laser-mark targets in favor of the Hellfire missiles of the latter, has also been tested and validated 

Watchkeeper will continue to be operated by 47 Regiment Royal Artillery, which continues to work on equipping and training 4 equipment batteries. The change of command won’t be particularly dramatic since 47 RA has been under Joint Helicopter Command control already since 31 august 2016, when it resubordinated from 1st ISR Brigade as part of efforts to overcome the problems that have tormented this UAV capability in its work up to full service readiness.
Under the 31 (HQ) Bty, 10 (Assaye) Bty and 43 (Lloyd’s Company) Bty were the first subunits to become operational with Watchkeeper, and have since been joined by 74 (The battleaxe Company) Bty and finally by 57 (Bhurtpore) Bty, which resubordinated from 32 RA during 2019.

From 2019, Watchkeeper is finally cleared to fly from Boscombe Down. Intense operations are ongoing also from Akrotiri, Cyprus.

1 Regiment AAC has had to abandon all ambitions of eventually re-activating 669 AAC and 672 AAC squadrons on AW-159 WILDCAT, as had once been planned. These ex Lynx units have now disbanded, leaving the Regiment composed of 661 and 659 Squadrons, plus 652 as training unit delivering both Conversion to Type and to Role. The regiment will have the ability to force generate as an Aviation Battlegroup for deployment.

4 Regiment AAC has under command 656 and 664 Squadrons on Apaches. The first is the specialist in Apache shipboard operations and the primary supplier of Attack Helicopter support to 3 Commando Brigade. 664 is primarily aligned to 16 Air Assault Brigade. The regiment will increasingly contributed to the max output required by Division scale operations, however. It should eventually take responsibility also for the combined CTT and CTR training unit, 653 Sqn.

3 Regiment AAC has the Apache squadrons 662 and 663. Both Attack Helicopter regiments will have the ability to force generate as Aviation Battlegroups for deployment.

5 Regiment AAC will oversee internal security operations (essentially, Northern Ireland and Special Forces support) and will also oversee aviation support to training overseas (7 Flight in Brunei and 29 Flight in BATUS). The regiment is otherwise made up by 2 squadrons; 665 AAC operates Gazelle helicopters from Aldergrove, while 651 AAC operates fixed wing ISLANDER and DEFENDER aircraft from the same base. Since 1 April 2019, however, 651 Sqn has been transferred to the RAF and once the new arrangements eventually reach Full Operational Capability, 651 will be removed from the Army’s order of battle. 665 AAC is instead intended to re-equip with a new helicopter replacing Gazelle. The expectation is that a small number of H-145 helicopters will be acquired for the role. Some could also replace the Gazelles of 29 Flight in BATUS, Canada.
658 Squadron, which operates in support of the SAS with Dauphin helicopters, will sit under the regiment but clearly its actual line of command is somewhere else.

The Brigade also commands 6 Regiment AAC with its 4 squadrons of reservists (675. 677, 678 and 679) who backfill ground support roles positions and provide war establishment uplift to the manpower of regular squadrons.

The training regiments (2, 7 and 9) of the Army Air Corps will not be included in the brigade. With WILDCAT training delivered directly by 1 Regiment AAC via 652 Sqn and with the same approach eventually planned for adoption by 3 and 4 Regiments with 653 AAC taking over all phases of APACHE training, it is expected that 7 Regiment AAC will fold its remaining functions into 5 Regiment AAC (training for the successor to Gazelle and oversight of overseas flights) and then disband. There are no firm official dates yet for this to happen; the main obstacle being the enduring inability to agree on whether to vacate Wattisham.

2 Regiment will carry on delivering the early phases of AAC personnel training in 668 and 676 Squadrons.

9 Regiment has been recently stood up at RAF Shawbury as part of the Defence Helicopter Flying School and has taken under command 670 AAC and 60 RAF Squadrons. It works alongside 2 Maritime Air Wing which delivers training through 660 AAC and 705 NAS squadrons. This arrangement will carry on.  

The aviation brigade will deploy under 3(UK) Division for major divisional operations and will deploy scalable C2 elements and associated Aviation Battlegroups or Units of Action for smaller scale contingencies. The Brigade will be resourced to operate with “at least” 4 Avg BGs and will be able to take under command non-british formations.

In particular, it is assumed than in any “max effort” scenario requiring 3(UK) Division to be fielded, 1st Aviation Brigade would have to deploy the vast majority of all frontline helicopter fleets, as it is expected than the Littoral Manoeuvre helicopter force (the Commando Helicopter Force with the MERLINs of 845 and 846 NAS plus the WILDCATs of 847 NAS, reinforced by 656 AAC with APACHEs and some CHINOOKs for heavy lift) would be required to operate as the same time as the main ground-based force.
Air mobility up to Company level is also assumed as requirement for Rear Area security: during a Divisional deployment, a Light Brigade formed out of units from 1st (UK) Division would deploy with Rear Area security roles.

It is assumed that 2 Squadrons of CHINOOKs, for up to 26 helicopters in total, would be deployed for such a large scale operation. If massed together for a primary operation, these helicopters could easily airlift a whole air assault battalion in one wave. If realized, this ambition would mean deploying more Chinooks than are found normally in American CABs.
24 Apache would also be the target, same number as are found in an attack battalion within an American CAB.

The main weakness of british aviation is naturally Medium Lift. Wildcat has extremely limited lift capability, while the small number of Puma HC2s is expected to be, for the most part, busy with Special Forces requests. The Americans, conversely, employ large numbers of Black Hawks, including several permanently tasked with CASEVAC / MEDEVAC role. French, Italians, Germans and others count on large numbers of NH-90 for the medium lift, but, with the sole exception of Germany, are in turn much weaker in terms of heavy lift.

Apart from the new and enhanced capabilities of command and execution of multiple concurrent operations, the Brigade will benefit from a substantial restructuring of 7 Battalion REME, which also includes 132 Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps, combining Equipment Support and repair with logistic sustainment of the deployed force.
Regimental REME workshops within 1, 3 and 4 Regiments will be restructured and strengthened with their own Equipment Support platoons and vehicle platoon for sustaining increased tempo of operations in the field.

The 3 british Chinooks deployed in Mali give much needed Heavy Lift support to the french forces in the region. In their first year of deployment they flew for 1192 hours, lifting 7,052 soldiers and 475 tonnes of freight 

On top of those organic resources, 7 REME will provide a 2nd line of Aviation Close Support in the field, with two Aviation Companies (71 and 72) and a Field Company specializing in Recovery (70 Fd Coy). 73 Aviation Coy relocated to Yeovilton in the last few years and will merge with 1 AAC regiment’s workshop elements to provide organic support.

1st Aviation Brigade is very much inspired by the US Army’s own CABs, but, for the moment at least, will continue to suffer of some of the typically british over-convoluted and overlapping layers of command and inter-service arrangements. 
Somewhat counter-intuitively, for example, the brigade does not seem destined to include 244 Signal Squadron, the designate aviation support comms units, which remains more loosely at JHC level, despite the unquestioned need for Communication and Information Support. I fully expect experience in the field to eventually lead to the resubordination of said squadron into the brigade, regardless of what the assumptions are right now.

More significantly, while 1st Avn Bde will have very significant organic FIND and ATTACK capabilities thanks to WILDCAT, WATCHKEEPER and APACHE, it won’t have direct day to day control over Manoeuvre helicopters as the CHINOOK and PUMA Squadrons are part of the RAF.
Connection with these crucial elements will be maintained through the higher level of command (Joint Helicopter Command), and deployed support helicopters will fall under 1st Avn Bde control during operations. Even then, it is acknowledged that “support helicopter squadrons have less organic life support than attack and recce formations and are not expected to manoeuvre in the same way”.
Similarly, the brigade won’t have direct control of the Tactical Supply Wing and Joint Helicopter Support Squadron.

This once again brings into focus the unhelpful awkwardness of having the troop carrying helicopters, quite frankly, sitting under the “wrong” Service. I don’t intend to denigrate the RAF’s commitment to the Support Helicopter Force, much as I will be inexorably accused of doing exactly that. I believe I’m simply stating a fact of life.
I will also immediately acknowledge that it is, at the moment and in the foreseeable future at the very least, almost unthinkable to prospect a transfer of CHINOOK and PUMA in Army hands. The effects on manpower could admittedly be disastrous if a well established RAF “family” was broken up, dramatically changing the career prospects of those who serve into it. Moreover, the Army is the Service that is most severely struggling with recruitment and retention, as well as grappling with decades of accumulated obsolescence across its structures and vehicle fleets, leading to a budget which is already broken as it is. As a consequence, I am NOT recommending a transfer at this time, although I will forever remark that it should be an objective for the future, perhaps to be incrementally implemented alongside the purchase of new build CHINOOKs to replace the oldest airframes in the coming years (assuming that the ongoing CHINOOK Capability Sustainment Programme does survive the new Integrated Review, of course). 
Transferring capabilities is difficult, but not impossible: the already mentioned case of 651 AAC is an example, and the transfer of MERLIN HC3 to the Navy is another.

What I am unashamedly urging is the immediate consideration of alternative joint solutions to bring the Support Helicopter Force into the Aviation Brigade and to restructure CHINOOK and PUMA 2 ground support / life support elements to deliver a more homogeneous capability for manoeuvre and flexible basing. As of now, APACHE and WILDCAT units are aiming for an increased ability to deploy forward and switch between Forward Operating Bases and multiple FARPs to operate in bitterly contested scenarios, while CHINOOK and PUMA 2 remain more decisively tied to availability of a better established Main Operating Base.

In addition, I believe that any honest appraisal of the resources available would conclude that creating a coherent Aviation Sustainment Battalion by combining Tactical Supply Wing, JHSS and 132 RLC Sqn is the sound thing to do. 7 REME could then focus entirely on Equipment Support.

Finally, proper planning should go into an integrated plan for adjusting / expanding the warfighting establishment as required, with Reserve support coming both from 6 AAC Regiment and from Royal Auxiliary Air Force formations. 1st Aviation Brigade will indeed include 6 AAC Regiment in its structure exactly for that purpose, and RauxAF elements connected to the Support Helicopter Force will, in a way or another, end up involved in any case.

Better to properly develop the arrangements in peacetime than scramble later when deployment time comes.


  1. "The aviation brigade will deploy under 3(UK) Division for major divisional operations"
    The brigade includes 4 Regiment AAC which supports 3 Cdo Brigade (not part of 3 Div) and 16 Air Assault Brigade (not part of 3 Div). I don't find this Aviation Brigade a clear structure, although the Brigade staff should be an improvement on the current structure.

  2. 1 aviation bde + Strike bde combo = awesome !

    1. The Strike Brigade is weak in anti-tank weapons. Every Infantry section has an AT weapon, but short range. The medium range weapons in the battalion AT platoon are not vehicle mounted for use under armour, and are vulnerable to mortars and artillery when out on the ground. Attack helicopter support is a possible response to this weakness.

      A strike battle group contacting tanks could send a request up the chain of command to Brigade. That would be passed on to division. Depending on plans and current tasks, an order could be sent to the Aviation Brigade. Then an aviation battle group would be allocated and would lease with the strike battle group for current friendly and enemy locations. This not an ideal process for me.

    2. "lease" the strike battle group is something the Tories might do, if I am being very cynical. I meant "liaise".

    3. Yea but strike isn't meant to deal with tanks or modern armour. If one needs to deal with modern armour then an armoured battle group would be added or an armoured infantry brigade sent instead. While there are many thousands of T72 / BMP spread around the world most of these have old armour that can be dealt with quite adequately by a land component force that includes a strike bde at its core. Remember also that in a divisional context strike's role is one of manoeuvre support and one can expect its assets to be chopped to the armoured infantry brigade(s) and vice-versa. I do take your point on aviation it can reduce, but not yet fully replace, the dependency on ground based anti-armour.

      For me however the big question is what comes after strike? It's in service date is roughly the middle of this decade and it's not unreasonable for its basic philosophy and structure to endure for about 5 to 10 years or more. But what then, more of the same or perhaps in an age of robots, information manoeuvre, non-kinetic energy weapons and true deep strike artillery perhaps a really, really radical rethink of hitherto cherished military structures as well as of personnel numbers?

    4. What is STRIKE meant to deal with, then...? The Army insists it is NOT meant for Mali, but exactly for the kind of high intensity scenarios which will have all kinds of armour roaring around, from wheeled to tracked.
      Even assuming it can avoid the massed MBT formations, there is not a realistic way to avoid confrontation with enemy medium forces, wheeled or otherwise, which are all much more heavily armed.

      It is one of the many holes in the STRIKE narrative which continue not to have any kind of answer.
      Aviation of course help, but again we have been told that STRIKE is meant to deal with the kind of scenario in which A2AD negates availability of air support. If this is the premise, yet the solution to all problems continue to be "we'll do it from the sky", all logic is gone from the discussion.

      The Army really, really, really needs to decide what STRIKE is, and what it is realistically good for.

    5. I guess you'll have to wait for the new Land Operating Concept / next war for the answer.

    6. This is the major-general's speech from the MoD.
      When I read it I was reminded of Gilbert and Sullivan's modern Major General.

    7. To be clear, the army is developing a Land Operating Concept. Thousands of millions have been committed to buying Axax and Boxer but the army has not a scooby how to use them.

    8. Scouring what the army publishes in search of a concept which is a bit more solid than a long list of buzzwords is a painfully frustrating and useless endeavour. I've read the Land Concept 2035 article in the latest issue of the British Army Review, and it isn't much better.

  3. Gabriele you say "I’ve known about this plan for many months, but couldn’t really talk about it before some sort of official announcement was released". So how did you know about it before the announcement then?

    1. I have been given the chance to read some of the papers which led to this development, over the past year or more.

  4. From MikeW:

    Hi Gaby,
    A very informative article indeed. I wanted, however, to ask the following question about the British Combat Aviation Brigade.
    I was under the impression that the Apache AH.1s were originally sent to Wattisham because they would be nearer the centre of 16 Air Assault Brigade’s activities at Colchester. With the formation of a Combat Aviation Brigade, will the role of 16 Air Assault Bde be changed to any great extent, in terms of units, personnel and kit or will it retain its present role as Britain’s Rapid Reaction Force?
    You see, it was not so long ago, if memory serves me correctly, that the Brigade began losing units and capability to a quite perturbing extent . They lost their HCR element (D Squadron), and suffered losses to their Artillery, Air Defence, Signals and Engineer capabilities. I suppose that a parachute capability of some kind will have to be retained but I was wondering whether the Brigade’s foremost purpose will be kept. From what you say, the formation of the Combat Aviation Brigade has more to do with the organization of “brigade aviation elements in support of a Divisional deployment, rather than penny-packet groups only suited to brigade or sub-brigade deployments”, so will the formation of the new Brigade really affect 16 Air Assault Brigade very much at all? After all, we still very much need a rap,id deployment formation, don’t we?

    1. For several years, the Attack regiments were directly part of 16 Air Assault, as you probably remember. But that is no longer the case. Essentially, 3 Regiment has spent the last few years focused on Divisional work, and 4 Regiment covers the Air Assault and Commando battalions at readiness.

      The fate of 16 Air Assault depends on decisions in the SDSR. The creation of 1st Aviation Brigade in itself doesn't change 16 AA's role. If anything, i think the use in combination of 16 and 1 brigades could deliver better results.

      But as always there are calls to do "things" with 16 Air Assault's elements. One proposal is having all of the Para battalions following 1 PARA as "Ranger-like" special forces support / SOF capable units. If this happens, it might mean there is no longer an air assault task force.
      Or it might mean the task force gets a new organisation and maybe more resources.
      At the moment, we can't know.
      Ahead of an SDSR, and particularly now that the COVID 19 situation has crashed down upon us all, you can't know what will happen.

      I don't see it being because of 1st Avn Bde, in any case. If it happens, it'll be its own cut. Let's hope it does not happen.

    2. From MikeW:

      Hi Gaby

      Many thanks for your reply, which was clear-sighted and sensible as usual. I’d just like to ask a further question, which is this:

      The Watchkeeper units seem a little short of support vehicles and equipment - only the odd Pinzgauer towing vehicle shown. What happened to the 21 Viking vehicles promised as support/control vehicles for the Watchkeepers? Have they gone to the Royal Marines?

    3. I must admit i'm still not sure what happened to the planned Viking-mounted tactical posts for Watchkeeper. They have certainly not transferred to the Royal Marines; either they were never, in the end, acquired, or they are kind of a well kept secret because they never really get mentioned at all, these days.
      Really don't know what exactly happened there.

    4. Interesting article, personally I think 16AAB should be disbanded. The parachute regiment could then re-role into an enhanced battalion commando/ranger type group, with a small attached arms element (artillery, signals, engineers, surgical capability). I served with 16AAB in the early 2000s and there was nothing that 16AAB could do that any other light infantry brigade couldn’t (ok parachuting, but, this is a dead method of delivering a war fighting capability). Even calling it elite was a bit of a stretch; approximately half of all arms P Company applicants pass the course, as opposed to a third thirty years ago.

      Reduce the paras to enhanced battalion level, provided them with additional training and make the unit a true elite.

  5. Will this aviation brigade under JHC or 3rd Div for administrative control during peace time?

    1. For now at least, it looks like JHC. A move under 3rd Division in the future would not surprise me, though.

  6. An interesting thought is whether 1 aviation and 16 air assault brigades might eventually form a divisional sized formation, either as a standalone permanent formation or as forward elements under temporary control of 3(UK) Division?

    1. I don't think it is overly likely to happen. I could see a Division standing up handling the two brigades in a really major deployment under ARRC Corps command, though.

  7. An off subject question for you.

    Do you think that Italy will seek to integrate more with EU Defence or with NATO and like minded allies? If the latter would Italy benefit from joining the JEF and/or might it seek closer defence cooperation with the UK, and if so what might that look like? A slightly long question I know.

    1. Italy has a big and important defence industry sector. Something that people often seem to forget. Even if you count Leonardo Uk "out", Italy makes a lot of stuff in defence. So, on the industrial side, it does not like being sidelined. Germany and France sought to screw italian industry on FCAS, and Italy went with the UK's Tempest as a consequence.
      Something similar could happen again on plans for new MBT and IFV, potentially: it very much depends on whether the UK is interested, has the money and can make for a good partner.

      As for military integration during ops, at least as long as this government lasts, Italy will play along with Europe. But the military will ensure that integration with NATO remains, so on that front the answer is, really, it'll seek to do both.

  8. Hello Gabrielle,
    Fantastic blog as always,slightly different topic and question, do youk know want happened to the CFT tests for the Typhoon. Did they work well, or not as good as first thought. I thought the RAF were interested in them at some point
    Many thanks

    1. Hello and thank you!
      As for Conformals on Typhoon, the tests must have not gone well because all has gone clear on that front. Reportedly they had too much of an impact on flight control and no one wants to spend money on trying to work in the fixes. In fact, while trying to convince the germans to spend money on a Typhoon "ECR" for electronic warfare, Eurofighter tried to push for new under-wing fuel tanks and for making "wet" pylons which currently are only for dry stores.

      That is proof that Conformals are very unlikely to come to Typhoon, unfortunately. Otherwise they would never even try to offer such a convoluted alternative.

  9. Hi Gabriele
    How is the Italian infantry structured are they the same as the British with individual cap badges or numbered, I spoke to a ex Sergeant in the british army and he reckons that everything is heading towards a single cap badge, would you agree with him or do you think thinks will stay the same

    1. Hello there,

      In Italy i'd say we work in a way perhaps closer to France's one. We do not have multiple battalions being part of a "Regiment" with a capbadge. Our battalions have regimental identity and can have both a number and a name, as they are named after their predecessors. There is no "capbadge religion", however, and when a traditionally tank regiment recently changed role and became a recce cavalry formation, it completely abandoned the previous identity and picked up that of a famous cavalry regiment of the past. I guess you could say it's done more like the RAF would do with a Squadron badge. The British Army would never do such a brutal change. It would come through some kind of "merge" with everything being re-examined including the belt and regimental tie...

      I don't know. It seems unlikely to me that we are going to see a single badge anytime soon, but i do hope the capbadge religion is progressively given up in favor of a greater focus on capability rather than ties.

  10. Thanks for your reply Gab
    I tend to agree with you, with one part of the army holding the rest to ransome because their inability to see beyond their own cap badge.
    My mate the ex serjeant ( infantry) said to me his local regiment he wanted to join got disband in 1967 and therefore the one he was a cadet with also went belly up in the 1968 technically the local regiment system as been dead for years ( and they are his own words) Me thinks it's time to move forwards and like you said time to restructure so the army has the capabilities it desperately needs.
    I mean when we are told that we are out gunned and out range by the men in charged of the army, what the hell has been going on in the upper
    Echelons of military power.
    Yes we might have a smaller size force than we want but at least give it the equipment that it needs to provide the power and punch it richly deserves.
    Do you Gab have info on what sort of budget the front line forces of the army operate on and the costing of equipment that you think the army should be procuring that enables us to live within our means.

    1. Playing estimates with the cost of weapon systems is always very hard, because we have only partial visibility on contracts and, of course, most of them can't really be considered in isolation but require control over infrastructure, munitions, training costs etcetera. It's hard to come up with numbers.

  11. Hello gabriele,
    Thank you for the reply regarding typhoon CFTs. I have another query regarding the challenger 2 engine. I saw in another forum from a few years ago that perkins, the existing engine maker, were making alterations to the engine including a new diesel common rail that would increase power. This would mean a new engine , such as the mtu, would not need fitting. Have you any news on the existing engine upgrade if any?.
    Many thanks again

    1. I know that some touchups for the engine are planned as part of the CSP, but i'm afraid i do not have real details. I'd love to know, though.

  12. Hi Gaby

    What's your thoughts on the combined arms battalion concept or is it just another name for a battle group.
    And if there is force structure model for the British army that would be worth copying from another country which one would that be.

    Many Thanks

    1. Hello,

      since the Combined Arms Battalion is pretty much a permanent battlegroup, it much more closely reflects how the soldiers actually operate once deployed. I'm very much a supporter of the CAB concept, because permanent arrangements allow better training and closer relationship between the components. I've actually written quite a bit about this in the past:

  13. Hello baby, again great content as always on this and twitter, reference you tweet on the voyager boom, do you know roughly , if at all the cost of fitting a boom to the voyager. Would it be more than say 50 million dollars an aircraft, or less , or even more.
    Many thanks

    1. Hello.
      No, i don't know what the cost would be. But 50 million is a hell of a lot; i'd expect definitely less than that.

    2. Au contraire, knowing aviation I think you could add 0 for such a modification and still have to pay more, that is a cool half £ billion +. The question then is whether there's something more pressing you'd rather spend a cool half £ billion on?

  14. Sorry Gabriele , predictive text disaster along with not reading my message properly. My apologies

  15. Interesting blog.

  16. wonder how the aviation bde will link into the div OSG in HQ ?

  17. Be interesting to have an article on 16 air assault brigade in the light of the appearance of the new aviation brigade. In particular what the former might look like after SDSR20.

  18. Hi Gab
    Concerning the utter incompetence of the MOD
    top level military officers in dealing with procurement with the eye watering sums of money that they are over budget with, which will cost us the taxpayers a fortune.
    Do you think that all large procurements should be given to professional negotiators who have the skills to play hardball with industry to get the right equipment for the budget that we have available.
    Because it seems to me that industry are shafting These Military professionals and civil servants at every opportunity. I might be a bit cynical in thinking there seems to be a element of the old boys network involved in procurement with these people perhaps all going to the same types of schools and universities

  19. Hello Gab,

    Do you have any further info or a link to Project COLINDALE? Thanks and regards!


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