Royal Armoured Corps

The Royal Armoured Corps is the component of the British Army, that together with the Household Cavalry provides its armour capability, with vehicles such as the Challenger 2 Tank and the Scimitar Reconnaissance Vehicle. It includes most of the Army's armoured regiments, both the Royal Tank Regiment and those converted from old horse cavalry regiments.[2] Today it comprises twelve regiments – eight regular and four Yeomanry. Although the Household Cavalry Regiment (The Life Guards and The Blues & Royals) are now armoured, they are not part of the RAC.[3]

Royal Armoured Corps
Badge of the Royal Armoured Corps
Active1939 – present
Country United Kingdom
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
TypeArmy Armoured corps
Size13 Regiments
Garrison/HQBovington Garrison
VehiclesChallenger 2, FV107 Scimitar, Ajax Edit this at Wikidata
Colonel CommandantLt-Gen Sir Edward Smyth-Osbourne KCVO CBE[1]


The RAC was created on 4 April 1939, just before World War II started, by combining regiments from the cavalry of the line which had mechanised with the Royal Tank Corps (renamed Royal Tank Regiment).[4] As the war went on and other regular cavalry and Territorial Army Yeomanry units became mechanised, the corps was enlarged.[5] A significant number of infantry battalions also converted to the armoured role as RAC regiments.[6] In addition, the RAC created its own training and support regiments. Finally, in 1944, the RAC absorbed the regiments of the Reconnaissance Corps.[2]

Present dayEdit

Recruiting areas of the regular army regiments


The Royal Armoured Corps is divided into regiments which operate main battle tanks (Armour), those in reconnaissance vehicles (Armoured Cavalry), and those in Weapons Mount vehicles (Light Cavalry). Of these, three regiments are designated Dragoon Guards, two as Hussars, one as Lancers and one as Dragoons. The remaining regiment is the Royal Tank Regiment. In the regular army, there are three armoured regiments, three armoured cavalry regiments and three light cavalry regiments. In the army reserve, there is one armoured regiment and three light cavalry regiments.[7]

Being a corps, the RAC is made up of several independent regiments, but the corps does control a few separate units which include:

The Royal Tank Regiment retains a CBRN reconnaissance and survey squadron as part of its establishment[9]

A system of pairing exists in the British Army of Regular to Reserve unit. Through this, operational and training cycles are aligned, resources shared and strategic depth enabled. In the Royal Armoured Corps this manifests with each yeomanry unit being paired with a regular unit of the same role.

Regular Army Army Reserve
1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards Royal Yeomanry
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Scottish & North Irish Yeomanry
The Light Dragoons Queen's Own Yeomanry
King's Royal Hussars Royal Wessex Yeomanry1
Queen's Royal Hussars
Royal Tank Regiment

1: The Royal Wessex Yeomanry provides replacement soldiers for armoured regiments, and therefore is paired with all three regular army units operating main battle tanks.



The Band of the Royal Armoured Corps is the single band representing the RAC, which falls under the administration of the Royal Corps of Army Music. This was formed in 2014 by the amalgamation of the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band, and the Light Cavalry Band. The Band of the Royal Armoured Corps is stationed at Catterick.


Delivering Security in a Changing World (2004)Edit

The reorganisation of the Army announced in 2004 led to significant changes to the Royal Armoured Corps. Reorganisation that began in 2003 would see three armoured regiments removed from Germany to the UK, with one re-roled as an FR regiment. In addition, three Challenger 2 squadrons will be converted to Interim Medium Armour Squadrons, while each FR regiment will gain a Command and Support Squadron.[10]


As part of the reorganisation, postings will be realigned:

UK based regimentsEdit

Germany based regimentsEdit

Strategic Defence and Security Review (2010)/Army 2020Edit

In 2012, following the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010, specific proposals about the make up of the future British Army were announced under the title Army 2020. These proposals were intended to reduce the size of the army to around 82,000. The Royal Armoured Corps was to be reduced by a total of two regiments, with the 9th/12th Royal Lancers amalgamated with the Queen's Royal Lancers to form a single lancer regiment, the Royal Lancers, and the 1st and 2nd Royal Tank Regiments joined to form a single Royal Tank Regiment.

The Royal Armoured Corps will also see a shift with one third of its regiments operating as armoured regiments with main battle tanks, another third as formation reconnaissance regiments and a final third as light cavalry using Jackal vehicles.[11] Armoured regiments would consist of Type 56 regiments, each with three Sabre Squadrons (comprising 18 Challenger 2 Tanks each) and a command and recce squadron. Armoured Cavalry or formation reconnaissance regiments would also have a command and recce squadron and three Sabre Squadrons; which will initially be equipped with Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), and then with Future Rapid Effect System Scout vehicles.[12][13] Jackal regiments will be part of the Adaptable Force, comprising three Sabre Squadrons (each with 16 vehicles). These regiments will be paired with a Yeomanry regiment.[13][14]

The new structure of the Reaction Force will see three armoured regiments, each assigned to a new "Armoured Infantry Brigade", alongside a formation reconnaissance regiment (renamed as "armoured cavalry"), two armoured infantry battalions and a heavy protected mobility battalion. These six regiments will fall operationally under what will become known as the "reaction forces", which will be the army's high readiness force. The remaining three regiments will be located with the remainder of the regular army under what has been term the "adaptable forces", which will provide a pool of resources to back up operations conducted by the "reaction forces".

This new basing plan on 5 March 2013 gave an overview of where the regiments will be based.[15] All RAC regiments will be UK based, with the 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards moving to Swanton Morley, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards moving to the Leuchars area, the Queen's Royal Hussars to Tidworth, the Royal Lancers settling in Catterick, the Light Dragoons in Catterick, and the Royal Tank Regiment to Tidworth. The expected Army 2020 layout for the RAC is to be:[16]

Armoured Regiment
(Challenger 2)
Armoured Cavalry
Light Cavalry
Light Cavalry
(Land Rover WMIK)[17]
1st Armoured Infantry Brigade 7th Infantry Brigade
The Royal Tank Regiment 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards The Royal Yeomanry
12th Armoured Infantry Brigade 4th Infantry Brigade
The King's Royal Hussars The Royal Lancers
(Queen Elizabeth's Own)
The Light Dragoons The Queen's Own Yeomanry
20th Armoured Infantry Brigade 51st Infantry Brigade
The Queen's Royal Hussars
(Queen's Own and Royal Irish)
The Royal Dragoon Guards The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
(Carabiniers and Greys)
The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry
(MBT crew replacement)

Order of precedenceEdit

Preceded by
Household Cavalry
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Regiment of Artillery

Related unitsEdit

This unit is allied with the following:

Colonels Commandant (Cavalry)Edit

Colonels Commandant were:[18]


  1. ^ "Colonels and Colonel Commandants" (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b Forty p. 63.
  3. ^ "War Office and Ministry of Defence: Royal Armoured Corps: Correspondence and Reports".
  4. ^ "The Royal Tank Regiment [UK]". 3 January 2006. Archived from the original on 3 January 2006.
  5. ^ "Royal Armoured Corps [UK]". 3 January 2006. Archived from the original on 3 January 2006.
  6. ^ Forty pp. 50–1
  7. ^ Heyman, p.67
  8. ^ "Armour Centre, Bovington". Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  9. ^ Ipeanddevelopment (7 August 2014). "The Royal Tank Regiment: Back in the CBRN game". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  10. ^ Delivering Security in a Changing World Ministry of Defence
  11. ^ Transforming the British Army Annex D Archived June 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Transforming the British Army Annex B[dead link]
  13. ^ a b Transforming the British Army, July 2012 Archived April 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Transforming the British Army Annex C[dead link]
  15. ^ Ministry of Defence (5 March 2013). "Regular army basing plan - Publications". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Regular Army Basing Announcement" (PDF). AFF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  17. ^ Army 2020 Report, page 24 Archived June 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Royal Armoured Corps". 11 July 2006. Archived from the original on 8 January 2007.
  19. ^ "No. 55391". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 February 1999. p. 1185.
  • Forty, George (1998). British Army Handbook 1939–1945. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-1403-3.
  • Heyman, Charles (2013). The British Army: A Pocket Guide, 2012-2013. Pen & Sword Military.

External linksEdit