Plans to modernize the UK ground forces

Cadets of the Royal Military Academy in the field. In the future, it is they who will serve in the army of the updated look.

The UK Department of Defense has published a new defense and security guidance document, “Defense in a competitive age”. It describes plans for the military construction and development of the armed forces until 2025. A special place in the document is occupied by plans for the further modernization and optimization of the ground forces.

Goals and tasks

Taking into account the current threats and challenges, the UK Department of Defense has adjusted its plans for the further development of the ground forces and updated the goals of this process. Also, measures have been determined with the help of which the assigned tasks will be solved – financial, organizational and military-technical.

The high command wants to make the army more flexible, to increase its integration with other branches of the armed forces, as well as to increase the combat effectiveness and increase the expeditionary potential. To solve such problems, a set of measures is proposed, suitable for full implementation in the foreseeable future. All major plans are scheduled until 2025, but there are other proposals calculated until the end of the decade.

16th Airborne Brigade at Wessex Storm 2014

The introduction of new concepts, tactics and products will increase the efficiency of the army, which will reduce its size. It is proposed to reduce the total number of servicemen in the ranks from the current 75 thousand to 72.5 thousand. At the same time, the reserve will remain intact.

Rearmament plans have been adjusted. Previously, it was planned to spend 20 billion pounds sterling on the purchase of new material. The new defense plan provides for the allocation of another 3 billion for the same period until 2025. The increased budget will allow the purchase of more necessary products, and also compensate for the increase in the cost of individual samples.

The armed forces will develop cooperation with foreign armies, and a significant role in this is given to the ground forces. They will include the Security Force Assistance Brigade, which will collect and analyze British experience and use it to train foreign specialists.

Structural transformation

For a fuller use of the existing and planned capabilities, it is proposed to restructure the organizational and staff structure of the ground forces. Part of the formations will be reorganized with a change in strength and subordination. It is also proposed to form new shelves for different purposes.

Tank Challenger II in the exercise

The Brigade Combat Team will become the main unit in the ground forces. As part of such a formation will be units of all types of troops, as well as the necessary support structures. BCTs are expected to be more effective and self-reliant than individual units from the current troop structure.

The infantry will undergo noticeable changes. The existing battalions and regiments will be consolidated into four divisions of the new formation. At the same time, one of the battalions will be disbanded, and four more will be transferred to another structure. Such measures are aimed at optimizing the infantry control loops, as well as reducing auxiliary units. Companies and platoons of this kind will be combined into Combat Service Support Battalions.

Already in August 2021, a new ranger regiment will be formed as part of the special operations brigade. This formation will include the battalions released during the creation of infantry divisions. Ranger Regiment fighters will have to work in difficult conditions, incl. with the receipt of part of the tasks and functions of special forces. Also, the rangers will participate in the exchange of experience and training of foreign military personnel.

Upgraded Warrior armored vehicle. The release of such equipment has been canceled

The expeditionary capabilities of the army will be determined by the Global Response Force. They currently include the 16th Airborne Brigade and the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade. No transformations of the expeditionary forces are planned yet.

One of the battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment will be experimental. He will have to test advanced samples, technologies and techniques for further implementation in combat units. It is believed that this will simplify and accelerate modernization and, as a result, will help maintain the state of the army at the proper level.

Technological perspectives

The British Army currently has approx. 225 Challenger II main tanks. 148 vehicles will be upgraded according to a new project currently being developed and will receive the symbol Challenger III. The remaining 77 tanks will be written off as unnecessary and to save money.

BTR Boxer German production on trials in the UK

Armored combat vehicles of the Warrior family will remain in service for now. However, the current modernization program will be canceled. As they wear out, such equipment will be written off and gradually replaced with modern Boxer armored vehicles. A complete replacement is expected in the middle of the decade. The procurement of equipment for various purposes from the Ajax family will also continue.

It is proposed to develop a new self-propelled artillery installation with high mobility and maximum automation. This project is allocated 10 years and 800 million pounds. Until the appearance of such an ACS, the operation of the available equipment will continue.

Until 2031, American GMLRS missiles will be purchased for the M270 MLRS. A total of £ 250 million will be allocated for these purposes. In the near future, purchases of Exactor missile systems (British designation of Israeli Spike NLOS) will continue. In the future, it is planned to modernize such products.

It is proposed to modernize the air defense. An updated system of this kind should protect troops from any urgent threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles. The existing air defense systems should receive new digital communication facilities; measures are needed to improve resilience and survivability. At the same time, the purchase of new samples is not yet envisaged.

Self-propelled guns AS-90. While this technique will remain in service

Investments in electronic intelligence and electronic warfare are planned. Over the next 10 years, 200 million pounds will be spent on these purposes. The introduction of new systems and complexes is envisaged, as well as an increase in the number of operators employed in this area.

Plans have been drawn up for the development of army aviation. Several of the oldest CH-47 heavy transport helicopters in the fleet will be decommissioned. They will be replaced by similar new-built vehicles, which will improve the capabilities of aviation. By the middle of the decade, it is planned to optimize the fleet of medium helicopters. Now in this category there are four types of cars, and in the future they will be replaced by one.

A course for efficiency

Thus, the new plans for the development of the British ground forces boil down to a few basic ideas. Moreover, similar solutions are proposed for the modernization of other types of forces and branches of the armed forces. Such measures are expected to be equally beneficial to all military forces.

AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters will eventually be decommissioned and replaced

First of all, a small reduction in troops and a significant optimization of their structure are proposed. The creation of new formations and formations that meet the requirements of the time is envisaged. The purchase of new types of weapons and equipment will continue, while maintaining the technical condition of the available samples. Other products will be written off due to moral and physical obsolescence.

The proposed reductions and optimizations should result in some savings. At the same time, additional expenses are envisaged for the purchase of various products in addition to those planned and approved earlier. The resulting savings are likely to be minimal – if they can be obtained. At the same time, the cost of new programs is of particular importance. Excessively expensive plans may not get the approval of the authorities, who seek to save on everything, including defense.

It is obvious that the British High Command understands the need for constant development and renewal of the armed forces, incl. ground forces. To solve such problems, various measures are being taken, published in documents like the recent “Defense in a competitive age”. The new military development plan has been approved and will be in effect for the next four years. This means that the first changes will appear in the very near future, and already in 2025 it will be possible to evaluate all the results of the launched programs.

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