Royal Armoured Corps

Royal Armoured Corps

Badge of the Royal Armoured Corps
Active 1939 to present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Army Armoured Corps
Role Armoured
Size Currently 5 armoured regiments and 5 reconnaissance regiments
Equipment Currently Challenger II, FV107 Scimitar

The Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) provides the armour capability of the British Army, with vehicles such as the Challenger 2 Tank and the Scimitar Reconnaissance Vehicle. It was created as a loose association of armoured regiments, both the Royal Tank Regiment and those converted from old horse cavalry regiments.[1] Today it comprises nine regular regiments and four Yeomanry regiments of the Army Reserve.


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).[2] As the war went on and other regular cavalry and Territorial Army Yeomanry units became mechanised, the corps was enlarged.[3] A significant number of infantry battalions also converted to the armoured role as RAC regiments.[4] In addition, the RAC created its own training and support regiments. Finally, in 1944, the RAC absorbed the regiments of the Reconnaissance Corps.[1]

Present day units (c. 2015)

Recruiting areas of the regular army regiments

The Royal Armoured Corps is divided into regiments which operate main battle tanks (heavy armoured regiments), those in reconnaissance vehicles (armoured reconnaissance regiments), and those in Weapons Mount vehicles (light reconnaissance regiments). 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, while the Army Reserve has a total of four regiments.[5]

1: For operational purposes, the Household Cavalry Regiment is considered to be part of the RAC and constitutes the third armoured reconnaissance regiment.
2: The Royal Tank Regiment retains a CBRN reconnaissance and support squadron as part of its establishment[6]


Regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps are based in the UK and Germany.[7] Under the Army2020 future basing plans all RAC regiments will be stationed in the UK; as of December 2016, the Queen's Royal Hussars are the final overseas based unit, and are due to return to Tidworth by 2018.

UK regiments

Overseas regiments


The Band of the Royal Armoured Corps is the single band representing the RAC, which falls under the administration of the 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)

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.[8]


As part of the reorganisation, postings will be realigned:

UK based regiments

Germany based regiments

Strategic Defence and Security Review (2010)/Army 2020

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.[9] 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.[10][11] 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.[11][12]

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.[13] 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:[14]

Armoured Regiment
(Challenger 2)
Armoured Cavalry
Light Cavalry
Light Cavalry
(Land Rover WMIK)[15]
1st Armoured Infantry Brigade 7th Infantry Brigade
The Royal Tank Regiment Household Cavalry 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 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 precedence

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

This unit is allied with the following:

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Armoured Corps.



  • 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. 
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