Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinook helicopter rests at night during a training mission in the Arizona desert. The chinook was being used at a FARP to refuel USMC helicopters CREDIT RAF
Tri-Service

What Kit Does The UK Military Have?

The Armed Forces use a range of vessels, vehicles, and aircraft during operations and training.

Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinook helicopter rests at night during a training mission in the Arizona desert. The chinook was being used at a FARP to refuel USMC helicopters CREDIT RAF

The UK military's maritime, land, and air capabilities require thousands of pieces of combat equipment.

The Ministry of Defence has published statistics detailing the equipment used by Britain's Armed Forces as of 1 April 2020.

Maritime

Equipment

There are 10 submarines and 79 vessels in the UK Armed Forces (66 vessels in the Royal Navy Surface Fleet; 13 vessels in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary).

Of the 10 submarines, six are nuclear and four are ballistic nuclear.

The Royal Navy's 66 surface vessels include:

  • 25 patrol ships
  • 13 mine countermeasures vessels
  • 13 frigates
  • Six destroyers
  • Four survey ships
  • Two aircraft carriers
  • Two landing platform docks/helicopters
  • One ice patrol ship
Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives back in Portsmouth on in July 2020 after a period at sea conducting Operational Sea Training (Picture: MOD).

Formations

Within the Royal Navy, there are 15 reserve units and a fleet diving squadron made up of 13 units.

The Royal Marines consists of 3 Commando Brigade, the Royal Marine Band Service, the Commando Training Centre and four reserve units.

Land

Equipment

The UK Armed Forces have 4,071 pieces of combat equipment, a reduction of 22 since 2019. The MOD says this is mainly due to the removal of 20 CVR(T) Scimitar vehicles from service.

The combat equipment includes 990 armoured personnel carriers, 1,906 protected mobility vehicles and 1,175 armoured fighting vehicles.

The land platforms most commonly used in the UK Armed Forces are the Bulldog (891 in total) and the Warrior (767).

Britain’s military also has 250 artillery and 156 engineering equipment components – the latter number has declined from 162 in 2019, as two amphibious bridging vehicles and four Terriers were removed from the operational fleet.

There are 15,827 pieces of combat support equipment available – 48% are Landrovers and 46% are wheeled support vehicles.

1PWRR soldiers in Warrior Infantry fighting vehicles during NATO Exericse Allied Spirit 8
1PWRR soldiers in Warrior Infantry fighting vehicles during NATO Exericse Allied Spirit 8 in 2018 (Picture: MOD).

Formations

The Army can be split into three primary components – Combat Forces, Combat Support Forces and Combat Service Support.

The Combat Forces includes the Infantry and Royal Armoured Corps.

There are 32 Regular Army and 16 Army Reserves Infantry Battalions and 15 Royal Armoured Corps Regiments (of these, 11 are regular and four are reserves).

Air

Equipment

There are 529 fixed-wing platforms – a decrease of 72 since 2019, due in part to the Tucano fleet leaving service and a reduction in the Typhoon fighter jet fleet, the MOD said.

The most common fixed-wing aircraft is the Typhoon, with 139 in the UK military.

There are also 311 rotary-wing platforms in the UK armed forces. The most common of these is the Chinook, with 60 helicopters.

RAF CH-47 Chinook in Mali
An RAF Chinook helicopter in Mali (Picture: RAF).

There has been a reduction in the number of Apache helicopters since 2019 to support the introduction of the AH-64E model which will see numbers climb again from next year, according to the MOD.

In addition, there are 287 unmanned aircraft systems, a decline of two since 2019. Most of these systems are Desert-Hawk III (229).

Formations

The RAF has 81 squadrons – four more than in 2019.

There are 18 squadrons and four headquarters in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, while the Army Air Corps comprises eight regiments, seven of which are regular and one reserve.

A Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinook helicopter at night during a training mission in the Arizona desert  (Picture: RAF).