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This topic contains information on vessels, aircraft and vehicles of the Armed Forces, and on the Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

Publications

UK Defence Statistics
Department: Defence
The annual statistics compendium of the Ministry of Defence
UK Defence Statistics Factsheet
Department: Defence
A summary of the annual statistics compendium of the Ministry of Defence
UK Defence Statistics Pocket Cards
Department: Defence
A summary of the annual statistics compendium of the Ministry of Defence

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Overview

This topic provides information on the numbers of vessels, aircraft and vehicles of the Armed Forces.

Vessels

The Royal Navy’s surface fleet consists of two flotillas, one based at Portsmouth and one at Devonport. Ships include aircraft carriers, assault ships, destroyers, frigates, mine countermeasures vessels and offshore patrol ships.

Trident/Polaris submarines provide the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent, whilst Fleet submarines provide a conventional deterrent.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary has a flotilla of tankers and store ships, whose main role is to supply Royal Navy ships at sea.

Numbers of vessels are published annually in the UK Defence Statistics publication.

Aircraft

Aircraft are used by all three services (Navy, Army and RAF) for offensive, defensive, reconnaissance and transport roles. There are a range of different fixed wing aircraft and helicopter types in use.

Aircraft numbers, broken down by role and aircraft type, are published annually in the UK Defence Statistics publication. Information on aircraft types and roles can also be found on the Ministry of Defence’s website.

Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe places limitations on the numbers of certain types of military equipment in Europe (from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural mountains).

Vehicle holdings and ceilings for the UK and other European countries are published annually in the UK Defence Statistics publication.

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Technical Data

Vessels

Vessels can be split into those that are operational and those that are undergoing refit. Operational vessels are manned, in and around water. Vessels undergoing refit are unmanned and in a dockyard.

There are also some British registered merchant vessels that could be requisitioned in the appropriate circumstances in support of the Armed Forces.

Aircraft

Aircraft numbers are published in terms of the Forward Available Fleet, which are aircraft available to the front line and training units.

Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty came into force in the early 1990s, originally as a bloc on bloc NATO and Warsaw Pact agreement to try to balance amounts of conventional arms and equipment in Europe. Conventional armaments and equipment limited by the Treaty are battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.

The treaty applies to the entire land territory of the States Parties in Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains, and includes all the European island territories of the States Parties, such as the Faroe Islands of the Kingdom of Denmark, Svalbard including Bear Island of the Kingdom of Norway, the islands of Azores and Madeira of the Portuguese Republic, the Canary Islands of the Kingdom of Spain and Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya of the Russian Federation. In the case of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, the area of application includes all territory lying west of the Ural River and the Caspian Sea. In the case of the Republic of Turkey, the area of application includes the territory of the Republic of Turkey north and west of a line extending from the point of intersection of the Turkish border with the 39th parallel to Muradiye, Patnos, Karayazi, Tekman, Kemaliye, Feke, Ceyhan, Dogankent, G÷zne and unto the sea.

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Glossary

  • Armoured combat vehicle

    A self-propelled vehicle with armoured protection and cross-country capability. These include armoured personnel carriers, armoured infantry fighting vehicles and heavy armament combat vehicles.

  • Armoured infantry fighting vehicle

    An armoured combat vehicle designed and equipped primarily to transport a combat infantry squad, normally providing the capability for the troops to deliver fire from inside the vehicle under armoured protection, and armed with an integral or organic cannon of at least 20 millimetres calibre and sometimes an anti-tank missile launcher. These vehicles serve as the principal weapon system of armoured infantry or mechanised infantry or motorised infantry formations and units of ground forces.

  • Armoured personnel carrier

    An armoured combat vehicle designed and equipped to transport a combat infantry squad and, as a rule, armed with an integral or organic weapon of less than 20 millimetres calibre.

  • Armoured personnel carrier lookalike

    An armoured vehicle based on the same chassis as, and externally similar to, an armoured personnel carrier that does not have a cannon or gun of 20 millimetres calibre or greater and has been constructed or modified in such a way as not to permit the transportation of a combat infantry squad. Taking into account the provisions of the Geneva Convention ’For the Amelioration of the Conditions of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field’ of 12 August 1949 that confer a special status on ambulances, armoured personnel carrier ambulances shall not be deemed armoured personnel carrier lookalikes.

  • Armoured vehicle launched bridge

    A self-propelled armoured transporter-launcher vehicle capable of carrying and, through built-in mechanisms, of emplacing and retrieving a bridge structure. Such a vehicle with a bridge structure operates as an integrated system.

  • Artillery

    Large calibre systems capable of engaging ground targets by delivering primarily indirect fire. Such artillery systems provide the essential indirect fire support to combined arms formations. Large calibre artillery systems are guns, howitzers and artillery pieces combining their characteristics; mortars and multiple launch rocket systems with a calibre of 100 millimetres and above. In addition, any future large calibre direct fire system with a secondary effective indirect fire capability shall be counted against the artillery ceilings.

  • Attack helicopter

    A combat helicopter equipped to employ anti-armour, air-to-ground, or air-to-air guided weapons and equipped with an integrated fire control and aiming system for these weapons. The term ‘attack helicopter’ comprises specialised attack helicopters and multi-purpose attack helicopters.

  • Battle tank

    A self-propelled armoured fighting vehicle, capable of heavy firepower, primarily of a high muzzle velocity direct fire main gun necessary to engage armoured and other targets, with high cross-country mobility and a high level of self-protection, not designed and equipped primarily to transport combat troops. Battle tanks are tracked armoured fighting vehiclesáthat weigh at least 16.5 metric tons unladen weight andáthat are armed with a 360-degree traverse gun of at least 75 millimetres calibre. Also, any wheeled armoured fighting vehicles entering into serviceáthat meet all the other criteria stated above shall also be deemed battle tanks.

  • Combat aircraft

    A fixed-wing or variable-geometry wing aircraft armed and equipped to engage targets by employing guided missiles, unguided rockets, bombs, guns, cannons, or other weapons of destruction, as well as any model or version of such an aircraft which performs other military functions such as reconnaissance or electronic warfare. The term ‘combat aircraft’ does not include primary trainer aircraft.

  • Combat helicopter

    A rotary wing aircraft armed and equipped to engage targets or equipped to perform other military functions.

  • Combat support helicopters

    This means a combat helicopter which does not fulfil the requirements to qualify as an attack helicopter and which may be equipped with a variety of self-defence and area suppression weapons, such as guns, cannons and unguided rockets, bombs or cluster bombs, or which may be equipped to perform other military functions.

  • Forward Available Fleet

    Aircraft available to the Front Line and training units. Aircraft can move freely between Fit for Purpose and Short Term Unserviceable status within the Forward fleet.

  • Heavy armament combat vehicle

    An armoured combat vehicle with an integral or organic direct fire gun of at least 75 millimetres calibre, weighing at least 6.0 metric tonnes unladen weight, that does not fall within the definitions of an armoured personnel carrier, or an armoured infantry fighting vehicle or a battle tank.

  • Ministry of Defence (MOD)

    The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is the UK government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces. The principal objective of the MOD is to defend the UK and its interests. The MOD also manages day-to-day running of the Armed Forces, contingency planning and defence procurement.

  • Multi-purpose attack helicopter

    An attack helicopter designed to perform multiple military functions and equipped to employ guided weapons.

  • Primary trainer aircraft

    These are designed and constructed for primary flying training and are aircraft that may possess only limited armament capability necessary for basic training in weapon delivery techniques.

  • Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service

    Constituted in 1905, this is a civilian manned fleet, owned by the Ministry of Defence. Its main task is to supply warships of the Royal Navy at sea with fuel, food, stores and ammunition that they need to remain operational while away from base. It also provides aviation support for the Royal Navy, together with amphibious support and secure sea transport for Army units and their equipment. Its employees are full-time civil servants, but who come under the Naval Discipline Act when deployed to sea under naval command.

  • Specialised attack helicopter

    An attack helicopter designed primarily to employ guided weapons.

  • Unarmed transport helicopters

    Unarmed transport helicopters are not equipped for the employment of weapons.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Head of DASA WDS

Email: dasa-enquiries-mailbox@mod.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7807 8792

3-K-50 MOD Main Building Whitehall London SW1A 2HB

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