Nearly 10,000 personnel form the personnel component of 16 Air Assault Brigade. Using everything from the latest Apache helicopter to air-mobile artillery equipment and high velocity air defence missiles, this Brigade has marked a considerable leap forward in Britain’s defence capability.
The Brigade capitalises on the combat capabilities of the former 24 Airmobile Brigade and 5 Airborne Brigade, including two parachute battalions with an increase in combat service support. The introduction of the Apache Attack Helicopter has provided anew generation of weapons systems bringing major improvements in military capability. This brigade is under the operational command of the JHC (Joint Helicopter Command) and could be assigned to other formations for operations. On a daily basis the brigade falls under the administrative command of 4th Division.
Until late 2005 the Brigade core group was based around the three battalions of the Parachute Regiment. Under the Future Army Restructuring plans 1 Para will re-role as a ’Ranger’ type or Special Forces Support Group available for operations from 2008. It is believed that the Special Forces Support Group will be located at St Athan, in South Wales, close to the SAS headquarters in Hereford.
The other two Parachute Regiment battalions will remain with 16 Air Assault Brigade and continue to provide the lead airborne battlegroup in rotation.
It would appear that 16 Air Assault Brigade will retain 4 x infantry battalions with two non Parachute Regiments battalions assigned to the Brigade.
Support helicopters are provided by the RAF (from the Joint Helicopter Command) and the Brigade would normally expect to operate with 18 x Chinook and 18 x Puma. An air assault infantry battalion can be moved by 20 x Chinook equivalents lifts. Each air assault infantry battalion has a personnel strength of 687 and is equipped with 12 x Milan firing posts.