Major British Defence Review

July 21st, 2004  

Topic: Major British Defence Review

It has been billed as the biggest defence review since the end of the 2nd World War:

The BBC special report on the issue:

Most people are still digesting it, and the press coverage has really been of the "20, 000 defence jobs to go".

The big news is really:

i) Land

- the army is being restructured around self-sufficient brigades

- Infantry batallions cut from 40 to 36, with upgrades to signals, logistics, combat engineering and intelligence manpower

- the creation of 3 medium brigades, based around the FRES system (FRES, the Future Rapid Effect System will be a set of vehicles and systems ca. 18 tonnes, air deployable, and capable of fulfilling roles equivalent to a tank, personnel carrier, combat engineering vehicle)

- the drop of heavy armour brigades from 3 to 2, and the change in the artillery mix towards fewer AS90s heavy howitzers and more light guns

- The Apache attack helicopter will be deployed to a level of 48 aircraft (I think they have half a dozen or so deployed at this point).

ii) Sea

The loss of 3 frigates, 3 destroyers, taking the force to a total of 25 frigates and destroyers.

The move to 3 aircraft carriers: 2 flying Joint Combat Aircraft and one (I am assuming) being primarily a helicopter carrier. The extra aircraft carrier is a surprise.

Submarines mostly unchanged: 4 strategic (the ones with the ICBMs), 8 nuclear powered attack.

Bye bye to the patrol boat...a nation mourns.

iii) Air

Loss of the Jaguar squadrons and bases; dang shame, but it was always coming.

Eurofighter Typhoon to replace the Tornado GR4s

The Harrier to be replaced by Join Combat aircraft.

The QRA levels remain unchanged (these being the aircraft scrambled in the event of an air attack over the UK airspace).

And they kept their 4 leased C17s (after everyone shouted at them to do it)

iv) NEC

Network stuff <yawn>. Everyone will be a cyberwarrior.

It's a pretty big change, but I thought they should have bitten the bullet and kicked the 2 remaining heavy armor brigades into touch, finally declaring an end to the Cold War,
and taken the infantry to 48 batallions.

Oh well, that's how it goes.
July 23rd, 2004  
Just a quick build on the last note: 8 attack "hunter-killer" submarines is a drop from previous projections, which were 11.