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7th Air Defence Group
7 air defence group badge.png
7th Air Defence Group badge
Active 1994 – present
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Combat support
Role Ground based air-defence
Size Three regiments (two regular & one Reserve) and one support battery
Part of 3rd UK Division
Headquarters Baker Barracks, Thorney Island[1]

7th Air Defence Group (7 AD Gp), is a formation of the British Army and part of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division. It is responsible for all the army's ground based air defence assets. All of the organisation's subordinate units are drawn from the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Its headquarters are located at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island.


Early ground based air defenceEdit

Ground based air defence was first used by the British Armed Forces during First World War and was a capability that sat predominantly under the army's Royal Regiment of Artillery. During the war, anti-aircraft units were assigned to manoeuvre brigades and were commanded at a local level. During the Second World War, the requirement for, and sophistication of, such systems was drastically increased and it was also understood that there was a requirement to cooperate closely with the new third service, the Royal Air Force (RAF). This necessitated the formation of Anti-Aircraft Command within the army, an organisation that was roughly 90% artillery and commanded by a Royal Regiment of Artillery officer; but which was placed under the operational command of RAF Fighter Command. Its first commander was General Alan Brooke (later chief of the Imperial General Staff and Winston Churchill's senior military officer throughout the Second World War).[2] At its peak this formation consisted of three corps, commanding 12 divisions.[3]

There were also a large number of light and heavy anti-aircraft regiments that accompanied British Commonwealth field armies to the Western Desert (eg 45th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery), India/Burma, and North-West Europe.[4]


A member of the Royal Artillery with a Starstreak High Velocity Missile system.

A member of the Royal Artillery with a Starstreak High Velocity Missile system.

In the post war years, the three services diverged significantly and Anti-Aircraft Command ceased to exist in 1955.[5]

One of the successor anti-aircraft formations in the British Army was 7th Army Group Royal Artillery (Anti-Aircraft). 7 AGRA had been established in August 1944 in Italy.[6] Watson and Rinaldi record that 7 AGRA (AA) moved to Germany in September 1961.[7] It became 7 Artillery Brigade (AA) with its headquarters in Gutersloh the next month. Two years earlier, 36 and 37 Regiments RA had become Guided Weapons Regiments RA equipped with the Thunderbird missile. On 1 April 1968 the two regiments were merged into 36 Regiment which had a further tour in Germany before disbandment.[8] There were also light AA regiments equipped with 40mm Bofors guns. In 1964 'anti-aircraft' units became 'air defence' units.[8]

The relatively small number of RAF Ground Based Air Defence units fell under the direct control of the RAF.[9]

Joint Ground Based Air Defence HeadquartersEdit

As part of the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the decision was taken to cut and rationalise ground based air defence, aligning the capabilities to one service but under a joint command structure. 7 Air Defence Brigade was reorganised as Joint Ground Based Air Defence Headquarters and its RAF equivalent disbanded. The organisation was then placed under command of the RAF, but with all units being manned by the Royal Artillery. During this period, the only regiment under its formation was the 16th Regiment, Royal Artillery which itself in-directly attached to HQ Theatre Troops.[10][11]


Under the Army 2020 Refine restructuring of the British Army, the Joint Ground Based Air Defence Headquarters was disestablished and 7th Air Defence Group formed on 1 April 2019, with all the UK's ground based air defence assets under its command.[12] 7 Air Defence Group is now under 3rd UK Division.[13]

Units and organisationEdit

In 1999, the following units fell under command of the, then, 7th Air Defence Brigade:[14]

After 2019, the following units are now under the command of 7th Air Defence Group.[12]


  1. "Launch of new Joint Air Defence Group". British Army. 
  2. "Anti-Aircraft Command". Archived from the original on 14 February 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
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  4. 45 LAA Regt at RA 1939–45. Archived 7 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Beckett, p. 178.
  6. 7th AGRA at RA 39–45, accessed 30 March 2016 Archived 23 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. The British Army in Germany: An Organizational History 1947-2004, By Graham Watson, Richard A. Rinaldi, 28.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "36 Regiment". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 2 April 2019. 
  9. "RAF Missile Defence". Flight Global. 12 February 1977. Retrieved 5 August 2018. 
  10. "Divisions and Brigades". 
  11. "Strategic Defence Review, paragraphs 33 and 34". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Force Troops Command Handbook". Retrieved 28 March 2019. 
  13. "Army restructures to confront evolving threats". British Army. Upavon. 31 July 2019. 
  14. Staff Officer's Handbook 1999, Serial 69.

External linksEdit

Template:Current British brigades


  • Ministry of Defence, Staff Officer's Handbook Number 71038, D/DGD&D/18/35/54, 1999.
  • Beckett, I. F. W. (2008). Territorials: A Century of Service. DRA Publishing. ISBN 978-0955781315. 
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