The defense is based on NATO membership. Britain's
territory is part of NATO's Northern Command, whose naval
staff is located in Northwood, London. The United Kingdom is
a nuclear power and, in addition to airborne nuclear
weapons, has four modern strategic submarines with a maximum
of 200 nuclear warheads.
A discussion was held in 2003 within the EU on a common
European defense and security policy in the formulation of
the EU's new, yet to be adopted, constitution. Germany,
France and others states stated that the transatlantic ties
are of strategic importance to NATO and thus to Europe's
defense. The United Kingdom is still strongly opposed to a
common defense but positive to its connection to the United
The UK's defense (2009) comprises approximately 160,000
personnel recruited. Large parts of these forces are located
outside the UK. The reserves amount to 200,000 people. The
army comprises about 90,000 men and has 360 modern tanks and
160 combat helicopters. The presence in Germany has
decreased from 56,000 men to 22,000. Most of the UK's ground
forces are organized in two mechanized divisions. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that GBR stands for United Kingdom.
The Navy consists of 30,000 men. The fleet has 13
submarines, of which four are nuclear weapons, and 27 are
larger fighter ships, of which two are aircraft carriers, as
well as 23 smaller fighters, seven amphibious vessels, etc.
The naval infantry of 7,000 men is organized in a command
brigade, etc. The Air Force consists of 33,000 men with 340
fighter aircraft. 114 Tornado and 62 Harrier.
In addition to the forces in Germany, Britain has smaller
forces in other NATO countries: 1,600 men stationed in
Cyprus, 550 men in Brunei, 1,500 men in the Falkland Islands
and 340 men in Gibraltar.
In Iraq, there were 11,000 men in connection with the
2003 war events. Following a decision in March 2009, all
combat tasks have been completed, and a remaining force of
about 4,000 people is undergoing long-term settlement.
The strong ties with the United States remain under the
Barack Obama administration. A decision is made to continue
operations in Afghanistan within the framework of the
UN-sanctioned ISAF mission. There are 8,300 people in
Afghanistan. This strength may increase depending on
developments in Afghanistan after the 2009 elections.
The United Kingdom participates in a number of UN
peacekeeping operations, in addition to the forces in
Afghanistan. 160 people in Serbia and Montenegro (KFOR), 260
people in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and in addition observers and
advisors in some 25 countries. The United States has
approximately 11,000 men, mainly air combat forces,
stationed in the United Kingdom.
Defense costs fell from 5.2 to 2.3% of GDP in 1985-2007.
Britain's defense overview
The UK's defense is based on enlisted personnel. The
total personnel force for Britain's armed forces is 148,350
active personnel, with a reserve of 80,000 personnel (2018,
The United Kingdom is a member of NATO.
The United Kingdom has strategic nuclear forces that
include four submarines with 48 ballistic missiles and up to
160 nuclear warheads.
The United Kingdom has a joint helicopter force for the
Army, Air Force and Marine (Joint Helicopter Command),
which includes 50 Apache combat helicopters, 55 multi-use
helicopters and 122 transport helicopters, 12 light
transport aircraft and seven medium-duty drones.
The army has a staff of 83,500, including 3100 Ghurcas.
Army heavier material comprises 227 tanks of a Challenger 2,
623 armored carriages of a warrior and 1291 armored
personnel. In addition, three landings vessels.
The Royal Air Force has a staff of 32,500 active
personnel. The equipment includes 154 fighter aircraft (137
Typhoon and 17 F-35B Lightning II), 59 training and light
fighter aircraft (Hawk), six AWACS aircraft (E-3D Sentry),
12 reconnaissance aircraft, 14 tanker and transport aircraft
(Voyager), 61 transport aircraft, 149 training aircraft,
eight helicopters and nine heavy combat drones.
The naval forces (Royal Navy) are 32,350 active
personnel, including 6600 Marines (Royal Marines). The fleet
includes 10 nuclear powered submarines (of which four
strategic of Vanguard class), one aircraft carrier of Queen
Elizabeth class, two dock landing ships of Albion class, six
destroyers of Daring class (Type 45), 13 frigate (Type 23),
22 patrol vessel, 13 minesweepers and four relief vessels.
Also under the navy is the civilian manned Royal Fleet
Auxilliary, which has around 1950 personnel, three Bay-class
docking vessels and 12 auxiliary vessels.
The Navy has its own Fleet Air Arm. Materials include 12
Hawk training and light fighter aircraft, four light
transport aircraft and 58 helicopters.
Strategic nuclear missiles of the type Trident D-5 are
deployed in four submarines of the Vanguard class.
The UK had forces in 2018 including Ascension (20
personnel), Bahrain (160 personnel, naval base), Brunei
(1000 personnel (Ghurkas), three helicopters), Cyprus (2260
personnel, 12 fighter aircraft, four helicopters), at The
Falkland Islands (1,200 personnel, four fighter aircraft),
at Gibraltar (570 personnel, two patrol boats), in Nepal (60
personnel, Ghurka training center) and in Germany (3750
In the United Kingdom, 2018 participated in NATO
operations in Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support)
with 1100 personnel, in Kosovo (KFOR) with 24 personnel, and
had deployed 1015 personnel in Estonia and Poland (Enhanced
In addition, the United Kingdom participated, among
others, in the UN operations in Cyprus (UNFICYP) with 278
personnel, and had 450 personnel and combat drones deployed
in Iraq and Kuwait (Operation Shader).