Armed Forces - a7a1 - Army Air Corps - Summary
THE ARMY AIR CORPS (AAC)
2007, the AAC aircraft fleet comprises four types: Apache AH Mk1, Lynx
AH7/9, and Gazelle helicopters, and the fixed-wing BN-2 Islander/Defender
aircraft. Contractor-owned Bell 212s are also used by the Army flight in
Brunei as a utility and transport helicopter.
the next ten years, the MoD plans to invest some £3bn in helicopter
platforms to replace and enhance the existing capability. In light of the
improved security situation in Northern Ireland, the MoD plans to make
some reductions in overall helicopter numbers.
have played a major role in UK military operations since the 1960s. The
AAC battlefield helicopter fleet has accumulated a vast amount of
operational experience in recent years, and is arguably a more capable
force than that possessed by any other European nation.
The flexibility of battlefield helicopters was demonstrated in 2003 during
Operation TELIC in Iraq. Here 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps, with two Pumas
from the Support Helicopter Force attached, was deployed forward as a
combined-arms battlegroup, initially within 16 Air Assault Brigade and
later in conjunction with 7 Armoured Brigade. The battlegroup had
responsibility for an area that extended over 6,000 square kilometres, and
provided a versatile combat arm during the warfighting phase. In the
immediate aftermath of hostilities, helicopters proved to be the most
efficient means of covering the vast operational area allocated to British
forces, and also in distributing humanitarian aid to isolated villages.
The Army obtains its aviation support from Army Air Corps (AAC), which is
an organisation with eight separate regiments and a number of independent
squadrons and flights.
AAC manpower is believed to number some 2,034 (early 2009) personnel of all ranks,
including about 500 officers. Unlike the all-officer Navy and Air Force
helicopter pilot establishments, almost two-thirds of AAC aircrew are
non-commissioned officers. The AAC is supported by REME and RLC personnel
numbering some 2,600 all ranks. Total AAC-related manpower is believed to
be some 4,600 personnel of all ranks.
With certain exceptions, during peace, all battlefield helicopters come
under the authority of the
Joint Helicopter Command (JHC).
The introduction into AAC service of the WAH-64D Apache Longbow attack
helicopter has transformed AAC doctrine, organisation, and order of
battle. The British Army designation of the type is Apache AH Mk1. As of
early 2009, the AAC continues a process of organisational transformation
with the UK Army having taken the decision to concentrate the Apache AH Mk
1 into three Attack Regiments.
The AAC is equipping these three Aviation Attack Regiments with a total of
48 x Apache AH Mk 1 attack helicopters, supporting operations in
Afghanistan. The three Attack Regiments are 9 Regt at Dishforth in Yorkshire, and 3 and 4 Regts at
Wattisham in Suffolk – with a full operating capability reached in early
Each attack regiment will have 2 x Attack Squadrons equipped with 8 x
Apache AH Mk1 attack helicopters and 1 x Support squadron equipped with 8
x Lynx. The Gazelle Helicopter has already started to be phased out by
several units following the introduction of the Apache AH Mk 1. The capability
gap left will be filled by introducing the Battlefield Light Utility
Helicopter (BLUH) in this capacity. Several Gazelle Helicopters will,
however, continue to be retained for specialist tasks as required. The
Lynx Helicopter will also be phased out as the Apache AH Mk 1 will replace
it in its attack helicopter role. Ultimately, however, the Lynx will be
replaced by the new Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter (Future Lynx).
The current (2009) AAC Regimental and Squadron locations are shown below
|2 (Trg) Regiment
||668, 670, 671, 673,
||Apache, Lynx, Gazelle
||653, 662, 663
||654, 659, 669
|6 Regiment (V)
||Bury St Edmunds
||Support (1 more Sqn forming)
|7 Regiment (V)
||656, 664, 672
|Joint Special Forces
|Development & Trials
Flights include 3 (TA)
Flight (Leuchars), 6 (TA) Flight (Shawbury), 7 Flight (Brunei), 8
Flight (Hereford, 12 Flight (Germany), 25 Flight (Belize), 29 BATUS
Flight – Canada
The AAC Centre at Middle Wallop in Hampshire acts as a focal point for all
Army Aviation, and it is here that the majority of corps training is
carried out. Although the AAC operates some fixed-wing aircraft for
training and liaison flying, the main effort goes into providing
helicopter support for the land forces. About 200 AAC helicopters are
believed to be in operational service in early 2009.
significant development during World War Two, Army Aviation formally
joined the Army order of battle in the early 1950s. Since then its place
on the battlefield has developed rapidly as an integral element of the
Army’s manoeuvre forces.
The introduction of attack helicopters clearly identifies the shift of
emphasis from combat support towards the combat role, particularly within
air manoeuvre operations. However, despite this changing emphasis, the
Army also has a continuing essential requirement for army aviation to
provide both combat support and combat service support roles.
Army Aviation doctrine
Army aviation operations rely for their effect on integration into
combined arms groupings (e.g. brigades and battle groups) of which army
aviation forms an element, the most pivotal of which is its place within
air manoeuvre forces.
In the context of Land Operations, Air Manoeuvre seeks decisive advantage
through the exploitation of the third dimension by combined-arms forces
centred on rotary-wing aircraft, but within an overall joint operations
Until 2004, the Army Lynx was the main AAC battlefield helicopter, and the
only one with a combat role. Consequently, the AAC has had no previous
experience of what some might describe as true Attack Helicopter
operations. With the introduction of the Apache AH Mk 1 into service,
doctrine has evolved to accommodate this new capability. The experience of
other Apache operators (particularly the US Army) has proved to be
Aviation: To find,
fix and strike, either independently, or as the lead element, or as a
constituent of combined arms groupings, throughout the depth of the
battlefield and the 24-hour battle, and throughout the full spectrum of
To provide enabling capabilities for combined arms operations, throughout
the depth of the battlefield and the 24-hour battle, and throughout the
full spectrum of operations.
In a Combat
Role: To conduct
air manoeuvre using direct fire and manoeuvre, as part of the land battle
In a Combat
Support Role: To
provide ISTAR (Integrated, Surveillance, Target Acquisition Radar) as a
collection asset in its own right or potentially as a platform for other
sensors, including ECM (Electronic Countermeasures); NBC (Nuclear,
Chemical and Biological) reconnaissance; ESM (Electronic Support
Measures); radar and other electronic systems.
direction of fire support (ground/air/maritime/special forces).
To provide mobility for combat forces.
To assist in command and control, including acting as airborne command
To provide a limited extraction capability.
In a Combat
Service Support Role:
To provide movement for personnel and materiel including casualty
ARMY AIR CORPS - REGIMENTAL
1st Regiment Army Air Corps
1 REGT AAC
3rd Regiment Army Air Corps
3 REGT AAC
4th Regiment Army Air Corps
4 REGT AAC
5th Regiment Army Air Corps
5 REGT AAC
7th Regiment Army Air Corps
7 REGT AAC
9th Regiment Army Air Corps
9 REGT AAC