The British Army is to create an experimental group to trial the concepts of operation for its new 'strike brigades' and bring the new General Dynamics Ajax family of armoured vehicles into service.
Announced to Parliament by UK defence secretary Michael Fallon on 15 December, the move will however see the British Army lose one of its three Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBT) regiments. The unit will instead convert to the Ajax vehicle.
Under what Fallon called the "Army 2020 Refine" process, four infantry battalions will become specialised advisory units for the experimental group. He also said that two new army reserve infantry battalions and a reserve explosive ordnance disposal regiment would be formed from 2017.
"The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) significantly increased the readiness levels required of the army, underpinned by investment in new capability and a war-fighting division as part of Joint Force 2025," Fallon said in a written ministerial statement announcing the start of the strike brigade project.
The Strike Experimentation Group is planned to be set up in Warminster by 2017 and army sources say the units involved would likely transition into the first strike brigade by the end of the decade. The 1st Strike Brigade will have two units equipped with the Ajax vehicle, including the Household Cavalry Regiment and the King's Royal Hussars, which currently operates Challenger 2s. The 1st Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland will serve in the brigade with the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV).
A new group to command the new specialised infantry battalions, which are to be dedicated advisory units, would be formed at York by 2017, before moving to Aldershot by 2020. This eventually comprise the 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, 4th Battalion, The Rifles, 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
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