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The Type 58 and 44 armoured regiments are two organisations currently provided by the Royal Armoured Corps of the British Army. They are a battalion-sized formations equipped with Challenger 2 main battle tanks. As the likelihood of a major Cold War confrontation died down, and the Army has been deployed to lower-intensity conflicts, the role of heavy armour has become less well-defined, focusing more on infantry co-operation and support rather than pure armoured conflict.

Current use as of the 2003 Defence Review[]

A Troop of Challenger 2s from the RDG on exercise in Canada

Following the 2003 Defence Review, five regular army regiments are equipped for the heavy armoured role: Of the five regiments, two are currently assigned to 1st (UK) Armoured Division (The Queen's Royal Hussars and The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) and three to 3rd (UK) Mechanised Division (The Royal Dragoon Guards, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment and The King's Royal Hussars).

Type 58 armoured regiments;

Heavy armoured regiments;

Two regiments of the Territorial Army, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry and the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, provide replacement crews for the regular regiments.

The 1st Royal Tank Regiment also operates a small number of Challenger 2 tanks for training and demonstration. That role has since ended with the move towards Army 2020[citation needed].

Organisation[]

The basic combat organisation of an armoured regiment is four armoured squadrons (or "Sabre squadrons"), each of four troops of three Challenger 2 tanks. The squadron headquarters has two tanks, for a total of fourteen per squadron, along with a Spartan APC and a utility truck; each squadron also has a medical detachment with a Samaritan ambulance and a fitter section with various recovery vehicles. The regimental headquarters has a further two Challenger 2 tanks, for a total of fifty-eight in the regiment, as well as five Sultan command vehicles and a small group of utility vehicles. In addition to this, each armoured regiment has a reconnaissance squadron with eight Scimitars.[1]

Of the five armoured regiments, two have the full four-squadrons structure, whilst three have the fourth squadron replaced by one equipped with an Interim Medium Armour Squadron, equipped with twelve Scimitars.[1]

History[]

The first armoured regiments - known at the time as "tank battalions" - were formed in the First World War, first in the Machine Gun Corps and later as the Tank Corps. Each battalion had three companies, each of three sections of four tanks, for a combat strength of thirty-six tanks; a further twelve were kept in reserve for training and replacement purposes.[2] A total of twenty-six battalions were formed during the war, quickly reduced to four battalions after the end of hostilities. By the late Second World War there were four armoured regiments in each armoured division. While three of the regiments were equipped with the Sherman medium tank, the Reconnaissance Regiment of the division was equipped with the Cromwell tank. As they became available Sherman Firefly tanks replaced one regular Sherman in each troop, and then later a second would be replaced. Each regiment was formed of four squadrons, A, B, C and HQ. The lettered squadrons were made up of four troops of four tanks and an HQ troop. The HQ squadron was made up of command tanks and a reconnaissance troop of light tanks. In north-west Europe, during the battle of Normandy from June to August 1944, anti-aircraft tanks were part of the HQ squadron.

The 1998 Strategic Defence Review cut the number of armoured regiments to six, converting one of the existing regiments to the formation reconnaissance role and using the other to form the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiation and Nuclear Regiment. As a part of this change, the six remaining regiments were expanded from a three-squadron structure with 38 tanks to a four-squadron one with 58.[3] This structure is also known as the "Type 58" regiment. Under the 2003 Defence White Paper, this was reduced to five armoured regiments - the sixth converting to the formation reconnaissance role - with three armoured squadrons to be converted to "light armoured" squadrons which would eventually be equipped with the Future Rapid Effect System.[4]

Future[]

In the future, the size of the Armoured Regiments will be reduced to a Type 56 Armoured Regiment. Only three regiments will be armed with the Challenger 2 tank.

The organisation of a Type 56 Armoured Regiment is:

References[]

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