The latest annual report on the UK armed forces’ equipment and formations, as of April 1, 2023, presents a comprehensive overview of the land, maritime, and air capabilities of the UK military.
The report, complemented by data from the Department for Transport (DfT) on militarily-useful British-registered vessels, offers detailed insights into the current state and changes in the UK’s defense assets.
Maritime Capabilities: Submarines and Vessels
The maritime section highlights the UK’s naval strength, reporting a total of 10 submarines and 72 vessels. This includes 59 vessels in the Royal Navy Surface Fleet and 13 in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
A slight decrease in Royal Navy vessels, from 62 in 2022 to 59 in 2023, is attributed to the retirement of two Mine Countermeasures Vessels and one Survey ship.
Conversely, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary witnessed an increase in its fleet size, thanks to the addition of a Mine Hunting Capability vessel and a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance vessel.
Land Forces: Equipment and Battalions
The land component of the UK armed forces shows a mix of strength and ongoing updates. With 3,207 pieces of combat equipment, the army’s arsenal comprises 845 Armored Personnel Carriers, 1,480 Protected Mobility Vehicles, and 882 Armored Fighting Vehicles.
However, these numbers are provisional, pending an ongoing process to enhance data quality. The infantry strength stands at 32 Regular Army Battalions and 16 Army Reserves Battalions.
Air Power: Aircraft and Squadrons
In the air domain, the UK armed forces boast 564 Fixed-wing aircraft and 265 Rotary-wing aircraft. Additionally, there are 55 Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
The report highlights the Typhoon as the most common Fixed-wing platform, with 137 aircraft, and the Chinook as the leading Rotary-wing platform, with 59 aircraft.
The Royal Air Force has expanded its squadrons to 103, while the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm consists of 16 squadrons and four Headquarters.
Trends and Changes
Significant trends include the planned retirement of certain equipment, such as the Scimitar, to be replaced by Ajax, and the transfer of platforms to Ukraine.
There’s also a notable reduction in the number of militarily-useful British-registered vessels, dropping from 532 in 2021 to 495 in 2022.
This report paints a picture of a modernising and adapting UK armed forces, balancing between retiring older equipment and introducing advanced platforms across all domains.