The Military Army Blog

DSEI 2015: UK Airborne Brigade moves to Central Army Command …

Key Points

  • Command of 16 Air Assault Brigade will jump from the UK’s JHC to the British Army’s central headquarters
  • The move will see the brigade stripped of AH-64 Apaches, which will remain under JHC control

The UK’s rapid reaction airborne brigade is to move under the direct control of the British Army’s central headquarters as part of a major re-organisation of the service’s command structure. From the end of November, 16 Air Assault Brigade will report direct to the army’s Commander Land Forces, Lieutenant General James Everard, who is based at its headquarters in Andover. Since it was formed in 1999, 16 Brigade had been under the day-to-day control of the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC), but the new arrangements are said to be a recognition of the formation’s “unique status” as the UK’s only air deployable theatre entry force.

The brigade headquarters and its major units – including two battalions of The Parachute Regiment, an artillery regiment equipped with the Royal Ordnance 105 mm Light Gun, as well as supporting logistics, medical, and communications units – will remain at the current bases in and around Colchester in Essex. The reshuffle was revealed by the commander of the UK’s JHC, Major General Richard Felton, at the Future of Armyrats © Military Rotorcraft: 2030 and Beyond conference on 14 September prior to the DSEI 2015 defence exhibition. He said the Army Air Corps units currently assigned to 16 Brigade, which operate AgustaWestland/Boeing Apache AH.1 attack helicopters, would leave the brigade and remain under JHC control.

The move of 16 Brigade is a result of the Army Command Review, which was launched last year by the incoming new chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nick Carter.

General Felton described as “scuttle [rumour]” reports that the JHC would move under the control of the UK Joint Forces Command. He said JHC would remain in the army’s top level budget and it would continue “to be the custodian of UK battlefield helicopters”.

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