British Army: 2300AD
Across the centuries the one arm of the British Army which has consistently proved itself of the highest standards has been the Royal Artillery. Indeed in the three World Wars the Royal Artillery has often been the margin of victory for the British. In 2300AD the Corps of Royal Artillery is responsible for the provision of indirect fire support and anti-aircraft defence for Army units. They man a range of systems including EM howitzers, long range tactical missiles, hypervelocity surface-to-air missiles and have responsibility for short range tactical nuclear weaponry
This article is consistent with Peter Grining's article 'Artillery in 2300AD'.
The armoured Kafer Battlegroup had been caught in a superbly prepared Killing Area and had paid the ultimate price. The battlespace had been shaped by recce assets, demolished bridges and artillery delivered Smart SCATMIN, forcing the Kafers into the small valley. The Deathsled vanguard and the flanking anti-aircraft platforms were targeted and destroyed in the first volleys of Sky Streak missiles.
The second volley coincided with the arrival of the first Congreve rockets, saturating the Killing Area with top-attack munitions. Seconds later a shattering, simultaneous Time-On-Target volley of 500 rounds fired from sixty-four 175mm and 165mm barrels of the Artillery Group impacted on the Kafer force.
Bombardier Ellis observed the battlefield from his covert OP, scanning the pyres of the burning AFVs. As he did so a squadron of Montgomeries arrived on a nearby ridge and commenced rapid fire with their MDCs into any Kafer vehicle still moving or not burning. Ellis concentrated on picking out concentrations of Kafer infantry and marking their positions. The information was relayed back via encoded tight-beam through a rebro drone and onto 79 Armoured Brigade's Fire Control Cell. A minute later when they had gathered enough information they programmed another TOT barrage from a reserve battery.
Three minutes later the Montgomeries had long gone, and the last echoes of the artillery died away. Ellis remained in hiding, watching the surviving Kafer vehicles emerging from folds in the ground whilst infantry grouped together to salvage what they could from the broken APCs. Ellis waited his time, identifying command groups and recovery vehicles - and waiting for a Battery to come available. When it did he began designating individual targets; four anti-personnel rounds for an Officer and his team, an anti-tank mixture for a recovery vehicle, a single plain HE from an open topped APC. If New Africa was to remain free it would be the human artillery superiority that would make it possible. Long Range Snipers indeed.
The Gunner Magazine, January 2303
Since the Battle of Crécy saw the first battlefield use of a cannon in Western Europe, cannon have been a factor on the modern battlefield. While a Board of Ordnance had existed from 1485, there was no standing force of British artillery until 1716, when a Royal Warrant for the raising of two companies of artillery at Woolwich Arsenal was issued.
The 18th century and the early 19th was marked by the struggle between Britain and France for global domination, and the Royal Artillery was greatly expanded to fight these wars. The Royal Horse Artillery was raised in 1793 to provide artillery support to cavalry formations, and performed so well it became a corps d' elite with the artillery. Unlike the French artillery, often grouped into massed batteries, the Royal Artillery remained tied to the close support of the infantry where it made the most of limited resources. With the defeat of Napoleon's France the Royal Artillery was greatly downsized along with the rest of the forces.
The 19th century saw several major wars, including the Crimean and the Second Boer wars, but was mostly notable for numerous Imperial small wars in India and Africa. In 1854 India was formerly absorbed into the British Empire and the East India Company's armies, including their substantial artillery force, were incorporated into the British Army. The industrial revolution also saw major improvements to gunnery, with breach loading rifled guns firing at long ranges, eventually leading to artillery becoming an indirect fire weapon.
Temporarily split into the Royal Field Artillery and Royal Garrison Artillery, the Great War was largely an artillery war, and at the end of the war there were more gunners than sailors in the British forces. The final victory of the British armies in the Hundred Days in 1918 was largely brought about by the perfection of artillery techniques. This war also saw a new role for the gunners, providing Air Defence for the British Isles and for troops on the battlefield. In the Second World War this was one of their major roles, defending British cities from German air attacks. Conventional artillery fought in every theatre of war, initially the RA's 25 Pounder field guns provided the only reliable defence against Panzers but soon the RA returned to its offensive role especially in the set piece attacks favoured by Montgomery.
By the Third World War the missile had become another major weapons system of the RA. Their guns and MLRS supported the teeth arms, their missiles defended the airspace above them and their deep strike weapons disrupted Soviet rear areas. However as numbers of tanks declined the artillery would again find themselves fighting off enemy tanks over open sights, whilst other gunners would fight as infantry, proving themselves as effective in this role as any of their forefathers. As this war wound down, the gunners returned home, only to fight another campaign to reunite the country.
The Saudi War saw British troops deploy overseas once more and the establishment of the UK as one of the remaining major powers, along with France and Japan. For the next few centuries there were many minor conflicts around the worlds, and eventually on other worlds. British artillery maintained its standards and techniques thanks in part to their links with their French and confrontations with Argentina in the South Atlantic. Indeed during the 3rd Rio Plato War two RA units fought alongside the Brazilians, relearning many lessons of high intensity warfare.
Today the RA is heavily involved in the Kafer War and the Royal Artillery again proved itself in helping to defeat Kafer invasion forces on New Africa. Later aiding the Liberation of other parts of Beta Canum and other worlds on the French Arm. Against the Kafers, human artillery has consistently proved itself the one arm consistently superior to its alien opponent.
The Corps of Royal Artillery is organised into regiments, which are usually composed of a number of batteries themselves comprising a number of weapon systems. Each regiment has its own specific role. A regiment can be assigned to a Brigade, Division or Corps either individually or as part of an Artillery Group. Both regiments and batteries have their own histories and batteries are often named after Battle Honours.
The Corps is divided administratively into two formations. The Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The Airtleira Regiment of Ireland is also affiliated to the Corps. The first two are traditional rather than functional divisions, whilst the latter is the artillery arm of the Irish Army.
Royal Horse Artillery
The RHA has its roots in the late 1700's as highly mobile light artillery attached to support cavalry units. They continue within the Corps of Royal Artillery to commemorate the traditions of the horse artillery and regard themselves as an elite. The RHA also have a ceremonial function through the King's Troop.
Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery (1 RHA) - 1 Cdo Div
Royal Regiment of Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises the bulk of the RA. It includes regular and TAVR units as well as regiments formed from Gurkhas and the Royal German Legion.
Airtleira Regiment of Ireland
The ARI is the artillery of the Irish establishment, although one formation from Ulster continues to carry the Royal Artillery name. It includes regulars and territorials whilst one regiment is specially trained for OP and FOO duties and another as a heavy regiment. The ARI uses the same training system and many of the facilities as the RA.
Regiment (V), Royal Artillery (111 RA)
The RA's light regiments employ the Vickers 165mm Light Gun, either towed by Quad prime movers or mounted on Dragoon portees, and provide close support to dismounted infantry brigades.
Currently there are 3 commando, 1 parachute, 6 airportable and 2 Irish regiments manned by regular soldiers. There are also 3 TAVR regiments; 1 parachute, 1 commando and 1 airportable. Gunners in the commando regiments are required to pass the All Arms Commando course, while those going to 7 Para RHA and 101 Para RA are required to pass P-Company and their jump training. The other regiments do not require any special qualifications although fulfil as duties as strenuous as those of the more glamorously titled regiments.
The essential operation of all these regiments is identical, although they use different Gun Towing Vehicles (GTV).Each Regiment has 3 gun batteries, a HQ battery and a REME workshop. Each gun battery is equipped with 6x 165mm Light Guns and is divided into 2 major groups. The Gun Group consists of the guns and their limbers and is split into 2 troops of 3 guns. The Tactical Group (Tac Gp) consists of 3, 4 man FOO parties who deploy well ahead of the gunline with the infantry and whose job is to acquire targets for the gun-line.
HQ battery consists of the basic C4I elements of the regiment, 1st line logistical support and the meteorology section. The REME workshop consists of a number of highly trained craftsmen whose job is to maintain the equipment of the regiment.
The light regiments are very manpower intensive when compared with the more mechanised units. This means they are often first in line when extra infantry troops are required. Indeed these units pride themselves on their all-round soldiering skills. Each regiment is affiliated with a light role Brigade Group and its component batteries linked to the individual Battle Groups.
Medium regiments are the bulk of the RA, equipped with the modern Mercer 175mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. Their general organisation is similar to that of the Light Regiments, with 3 x 8 Gun Batteries, a HQ Battery and a REME workshop.
The gun batteries each have 8 Mercers and 3 armoured Forward Observation Vehicles, which are generally conversions of the same type of vehicle as the teeth units with whom they operate. HQ battery is also armoured, with the Rifleman HIFV as their transport. The REME workshop is much larger and has 3 Forward Recovery Groups each with 2 Hover Armoured Recovery Vehicles.
The medium regiments are organisationally assigned to a Divisional Artillery Group, but like light regiments are affiliated to specific brigades and the component batteries to individual batteries. This means a relationship between the attached FOO teams and other RA personnel is developed. In action however fire from these batteries can be switched to support any unit in contact.
The field regiments all belong to regional divisions of the UK Defence Force and Irish Defence Command and are manned by reservist TAVR or FCA personnel. They are equipped with the obsolete Ramsey SP Howitzer, firing a 165mm Binary Shell, and Darter SAMs mounted on Reynard II ACV. Their organisation is somewhat different to the other formations, having only two Gun Batteries, one Close Air Defence Battery and a HQ Battery. Total front-line equipment includes 12 Ramsey SP, 24 Reynard II ADV and 6 Reynard II FOV.
The heavy regiments constitute the artillery's heavy punch and are assigned as divisional and corps level assets. They are equipped with the versatile Congreve MLR system, capable of delivering 16 tactical missiles onto a target in a single minute or a single strategic missile into the heart of an enemy's strategic defences.
Heavy regiments have 2 firing batteries, each with 9 Congreve launchers in 3 troops, a Surveillance and Target Acquisition battery, a HQ battery and a REME workshop. The heavy regiments are very lightly manned due to the highly sophisticated nature of the equipment they man.
The STA battery is equipped with an array of long range drones and sensors. It is works closely with the Divisional and Corps Recce Groups in providing targeting information for its missiles. The heavy regiment has small numbers of specially trained FOOs who work with the units of the CRG and DRG, although these are normally used to generate fire-plans rather than locate targets.
Air Defence Regiment
Air defence regiments are equipped for Area Air Defence with the SP Lancet SAM. These units concentrate on the defence of brigade, divisional and corps assets as part of an overall Air Defence Plan. Close defence of Battle Groups is provided by battalion's own integral air defence sections which are not manned by the RA.
Air defence regiments have 4, 6 vehicle missile batteries, a HQ battery and a REME workshop. It is typical for the regiment to deploy 3 vehicle Half-Troops for specific tasks, which is usually sufficient to protect a single high value target.
Orbital Defence Regiment
The orbital defence regiments are equipped to provide mobile, theatre level ASAT defence for UK forces. They are equipped with the Phoenix ASAT missile mounted on a large, wheeled launcher. These are Corps level assets and are usually well protected. They train alongside the RAF Regiment's dedicated ASAT squadrons and can operate with them when required.
Each regiment has
two missile batteries, each with six launchers, a STA battery in addition
to the usual HQ and REME workshop. In this case the STA battery is equipped
with sophisticated orbital surveillance equipment. The regiment's prime
role is in destroying enemy surveillance and communications satellites
but can also engage orbiting starships if required.
British artillery doctrine is based around the twin principles of Flexibility and Firepower.
The RA has observers, advisors and executive commanders integrated with the Combat arms at all levels. This means that the decision making part of the RA is well forward and involved in the battle. They are not only responsible for generating the fire-plan, advising commanders on what artillery can and cannot achieve, but they are also able to alter the implementation of the fire-plan to better effect the situation on the ground.
The RA has massive integral firepower at its disposal, including 165mm and 175mm shells and multi-role Congreve missiles. It is also responsible for tying in other assets into a fire-plan, from infantry mortars to air force attack jets. Wherever possible they attempt to achieve massive concentration of fire rather than the use of penny-packet barrages.
One of the key elements of this doctrine is the use of Batteries' Tac Group FOO parties. These are usually four strong, vehicle equipped and led by a Captain. These are attached to the combat Battle Groups at company/squadron level and will usually remain with this company throughout a campaign. The FOO acts as an artillery advisor, provides extra surveillance assets and an alternate command net but most importantly co-ordinates the delivery of fire support to the company. They work very closely with the infantry Mortar Fire Controllers, essentially giving each company three specialist fire support control elements.
In 2300 theoretically no Forward Observers are required on the battlefield. Every infanteer is capable of acquiring targets and every section, platoon and company commander can use integrated navigation and communications equipment to call down artillery. In practise however the FOO is required to co-ordinate fire support, prioritise targets, deal with the FSC and gun line, and take pressure off the combat commanders. Artillery support is a valuable asset that should not be wasted on relatively low value targets whilst making itself vulnerable to counter-battery fire.
At the Battle Group level the RA Battery Commander is integrated into the Fire Support Cell, essentially providing the Battle Group commander with the same service the FOO provides the company commander. The FSC provides routine co-ordination of indirect fire support and looks at a bigger picture that the 'FOO'. Similarly at the Brigade level the RA Regiment Commanding Officer acts as the senior artillery advisor to the Brigade Commander.
The bulk of British artillery assets, except those in independent brigades or at Corps level, are integrated into the Division Artillery Group. This is a brigade sized artillery formation which in action controls and co-ordinates the operations of the Gun Groups in close support, counter-battery and general support roles. The DAG is normally deployed in the rear of the FEMZ and is supported by its own Royal Logistics Corps regiment which supplies it with ammunition. The DAG is led by the Commander Royal Artillery (CRA) a RA Brigadier.
Within the DAG areas
are surveyed and laid out to form Gunline Manouvre Areas, GMA, from which
the artillery can fire and move between. These GMA has to be kept away
from support units vulnerable to enemy counter-battery fire as well as
away from the rear echelons of the combat units. Considering that in the
average armoured division something like 72 Mercers and 18 Congreves will
be on the move the smooth establishment and running of a GMA is something
of an art form.
Close support operations
are usually carried out by light, medium and field regiments and these
are used to effect the direct contact battle being fought by the Battle
Groups. On low intensity or highly dispersed operations each Battle Group
may have just a single battery in support. However in high intensity operations
artillery is centralised at the Brigade and Divisional level. The fire
of batteries, regiments and sometimes the whole DAG can be switched to
support different Battle Groups at will. This is the optimum solution.
General support or 'deep fire' operations are normally organised at Divisional level by the CRA. These require longer range munitions and sensors to match. Such missions are carried out mainly by heavy regiments but medium regiments can also be involved. They are usually co-ordinated with airstrikes from the airforces or Army Air Corps units as well as ground action by elements of the Divisional Recce Group. Artillery assets normally tasked for close or general support can be rapidly switched between tasks.
Copyright 2009, D Hebditch, Bryn Monnery and Peter Grinning