Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has outlined the result of the ‘Defence Command Paper’, a white paper outlining the shape and size of the British military over the years to come.
You can read ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘ for yourself here, below is a brief summary of the main points broken down by service.
- HMS Trent, a Batch 2 River-class patrol vessel, will be permanently based in Gibraltar, and HMS Tamar (P233) will be permanently based in the Indo-Pacific.
- A new surveillance ship will be acquired, tasked to deal with protecting critical national infrastructure, such as undersea cables.
- Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel and Sandown-class minehunter will be replaced by autonomous minehunting vessels.
- A Bay-class landing ship will be converted to a littoral strike role for the Royal Marines, who will also evolve into the Future Commando Force and be forward-based.
- The Type 83 destroyer will be developed to replace the Type 45 destroyers in the late 2030s.
- Two Type 23 Frigates will be retired early, before an increase in numbers with the introduction of the Type 26 Frigate and Type 31 Frigate.
- Harpoon will be retired and replaced by the interim Surface to Surface Guided Weapon; the Type 45 Destroyer will also receive upgraded air defence weapons.
- The British Army will be reduced in size, to 72,500 regular personnel by 2025, with no change in reserves.
- 77 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks will be retired, with the remaining 148 upgraded to Challenger 3.
- The planned Warrior upgrade will be cancelled, and instead the vehicles will be retired upon the introduction of Boxer in the mid-2020s.
- £250 million will be invested in Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS).
- £800 million will be invested in a new automated fires platform.
- The Infantry will be restructured into four new administrative divisions.
- A new four-battalion Ranger Regiment will be formed, from the Royal Scots Borderers; 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment; 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment; and 4th Battalion, The Rifles. The new regiment will sit within a newly-formed Army Special Operations Brigade.
- A new Global Readiness Force will be formed, consisting of a newly formed 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, and 16 Air Assault Brigade, the latter of which will be reinforced by a further infantry unit.
- The British Army will be re-organised into 7 self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) – two heavy, two light, one deep strike, one air maneuvre, and one combat aviation.
- The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Mercian Regiment will be amalgamated.
- A Security Force Assistance Brigade will be formed to assist and train partner nations.
- Manning will increase in the areas of electronic warfare, air defence, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
- 23 Gazelle, 20 Puma, and 5 Bell 212 will be replaced by a new medium-lift helicopter.
Royal Air Force
- £2 billion will be invested over the next 4 years, into the Future Combat Air System, alongside further development of the LANCA UCAV system.
- The UK will commit to grow the F-35B fleet beyond 48 aircraft.
- 24 Typhoons retired in the next few years, Hawk T1 will go too.
- Five E-3D Sentry early warning aircraft will be replaced by a more capable but smaller fleet of three E7 Wedgetail in 2023. These will be based at RAF Lossiemouth.
- The UK will retire the C130-J Hercules in 2023, after 24 years of service. Twenty-two A400Ms, alongside the C17s remain.
- The oldest Chinook transport helicopters will be retired and new extended range examples will be purchased.
- Counter terrorism operations are currently supported by nine Reaper RPAS (‘drones’) which will be replaced by 16 Protectors by 2024.
- The UK will further develop combat drone swarm technologies.
- The UK will upgrade the remaining Typhoon jets radars and introduce Spear Cap 3 deep strike capabilities.
- £200 million will be invested in enhanced electronic warfare & signals intelligence capability.
- £6.6 billion will be invested into space over the next 4 years.