Royal Artillery Regiment (RAR)
Commonly known as the ‘Gunners’, the Royal Artillery Regiment (RAR) provides firepower to the British Army. It is responsible for finding the enemy using a variety of high-tech equipment and then, when needed, striking them using everything from explosive shells to advanced precision rockets. The Royal Artillery answers directly to the reigning sovereign, who holds the title of the Royal Artillery’s Captain General, through the Master Gunner, who acts as chief advisor on artillery matters.
Artillery weapons include some of the most potent, sophisticated - and loudest - equipment in the British Army. Field Artillery guns and rocket launchers can bring massive firepower to bear, while sophisticated air defence missiles allow friendly troops freedom to operate without interference from enemy attack aircraft.
The AS90 is a 155mm self-propelled gun that equips three field regiments of the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Artillery. The AS90 is fitted with a 155mm, 39-calibre gun barrel. In trials, two AS90 guns were able to deliver a total payload of 261kg on to a single target in less than ten seconds. An automated loading system enables the gun to fire with a burst rate of three rounds in fewer than ten seconds, an intense rate of six rounds a minute for three minutes and a sustained rate of two rounds a minute. The gun is equipped with a recoil and hydrogas suspension system, which allows the turret to traverse and fire through a full 360°.
The versatile 105mm light gun is used by the parachute and commando field artillery regiments of the British Army. The light gun can be towed by a medium-weight vehicle or carried around the battlefield underslung by a Chinook helicopter. Royal Artillery L118 light guns are fitted with an automatic pointing system (APS), which enables the gun to be unlimbered and in action in 30 seconds. APS is based on an inertial navigation system, operated via a touch screen, it replaces the traditional dial sight.
The state-of-the-art M270B1 Multiple Launch Rocket System, firing the M31 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) munition, is the mainstay of the British Army's deep and shaping fires capability. The system provides pinpoint accuracy, delivering a 200 lb high explosive warhead to its target with over twice the range of other artillery systems used by the British Army. The MLRS also represents the bulk of the Army's precision fires capability, with the GPS guidance capability integral to the system and highly accurate beyond 70 KM. The weapon system is manned by a small crew of three Gunners and is mounted on a tracked armoured launcher, which is highly robust and manuverable.
Rapier Field Standard C is a technologically advanced short range air defence system developed by MBDA (previously Matra BAe Dynamics) and is in service with the Royal Artillery. It is a 24-hour, all-weather guided weapon system with a primary role of providing limited area air defence cover against fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) and cruise missiles. It has the capability of engaging two targets at once. Rapier FSC is compact, mobile and air portable, making it suitable for worldwide operations.
Desert Hawk is an extremely versatile and small Unmanned Aerial System designed for discrete operations. It is operated normally at the company level but is equally well employed above and below this. It has an extremely good record. It provides an excellent 'over the hill' view for commanders on the ground.
The Starstreak High Velocity Missile (HVM) is designed to counter threats from very high performance, low-flying aircraft and fast 'pop up' strikes by helicopter attacks. The missile, which travels at more than three times the speed of sound, uses a system of three dart-like projectiles, allowing multiple hits on the target. HVM can be fired from the shoulder, from a lightweight multiple launcher or from the Stormer armoured vehicle.
Although the Royal Artillery is technically a single Regiment, it consists of many different regiments, each of which is responsible for delivering a different type of effect. The Regiment is otherwise unique in the British Army because of the emphasis placed on its sub-units or batteries. Batteries can deploy independently, move around between regiments, and even perform different roles to one another within a single regiment.
A unit is the generic term for a military organisation that is the basic building block of a specific operational capability. It includes service personnel predominately from a single cap-badge but with small detachments of other cap-badged personnel that provide specialist capability. A unit may be called a Regiment or a Battalion, dependent on the capability it provides and will generally consist of a Headquarters, a support sub-unit and 3 other sub-units called companies, squadrons or batteries, dependent on the unit type. The size and structure of each unit varies considerably (408 up to 729) and is dependent on its role and specialisation. The Royal Artillery has Regiments but its sub units are termed batteries; its units in the Reaction Forces are c.600 strong and those supporting the Adaptable Force are c.400 strong.
In July 2012, the British Army released a plan for its Army 2020 initiative. Under the plan, the RAR would experience some changes. 39th Regiment, Royal Artillery and 40th Regiment, Royal Artillery were to both be removed from the order of battle by October 2015. Following the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, the Army is reconfiguring to be capable of fighting at the divisional level as its primary role. The core purpose of the Royal Artillery remains unchanged and regiments will reorganise to support the modernised warfighting division.
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