Royal Armoured Corps

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Royal Armoured Corps
Badge of the Royal Armoured Corps
Active 1939 to present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg 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 ten regular regiments and four Yeomanry regiments of the Army Reserve.


British Army arms and services
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Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

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 (circa 2013)[edit]

Recruiting areas of the regular army regiments

The Royal Armoured Corps is divided into regiments which operate main battle tanks (armoured regiments) and those in reconnaissance vehicles (formation reconnaissance regiments). Of these, three regiments are designated Dragoon Guards, two as Hussars, two as Lancers and one as Dragoons. The remaining two are the two regiments of the Royal Tank Regiment. In the regular army, there are six armoured regiments and four formation reconnaissance regiments:[5]

For operational purposes, the Household Cavalry Regiment is considered to be part of the RAC and constitutes the fifth formation reconnaissance regiment. In the army reserve, there are four regiments:[6]


Regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps are based in the UK and Germany:[5] But under future basin plans all Regiments will return to the UK, with the 3 MBT regiments based in Tidworth.

UK regiments[edit]

Overseas regiments[edit]


The Corps of Army Music is responsible for administration and training of the two RAC bands:[6]

  • The Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band - represents the constituent regiments of The Royal Dragoon Guards, Queens Dragoon Guards, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Royal Tank Regiments, and was formed in 2006 by the amalgamation of the Band of the Dragoon Guards and the Royal Tank Regiment Cambrai Band.
  • The Light Cavalry Band - this band represents the regiments of Light Dragoons, Kings Royal Hussars, Queens Royal Hussars, Queens Royal Lancers and 9th/12th Lancers, and was formed in 2006 by the amalgamation of the Band of the Hussars and Light Dragoons and the Band of the Royal Lancers.

These bands were merged in 2014 to form a single united band of the RAC


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.[7]


As part of the reorganisation, postings will be realigned:

UK based regiments[edit]

Germany based regiments[edit]

Strategic Defence and Security Review (2010)/Army 2020[edit]

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.[8] Armoured regiments would consist of Type 56 regiments, each with 3 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 3 Sabre Squadrons; which will initially be equipped with Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), and then with Future Rapid Effect System Scout vehicles.[9][10] Jackal regiments will be part of the Adaptable Force, comprising 3 Sabre Squadrons (each with 16 vehicles). These regiments will be paired with a Yeomanry regiment.[10][11]

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.[12] 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 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:

The Royal Yeomanry, The RMLY and the Queen's Own Yeomanry will be armed with Refurbished Weapons Mounted Integrated Kit (RWMIK) vehicles.[15]

Order of precedence[edit]

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

Related units[edit]

This unit is allied with the following:

See also[edit]



  • 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 links[edit]