Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Saturday, 12 October 2013

ORBAT - 1980's British - Army Air Corps, Aviation Regiment

The aim of this Orbat post is to outline the organisation of the Army Air Corps in Germany in the 1980's and 1990s which will allow aviation support to be provided to a number of different Battle Group types. In addition it will form the basis of material for the creation of Aviation And Air Assault Battle Groups used by 6 and 24 Air Mobile Brigades during the late 80's and early 1990's.

In the British Army AH was the abreviation for Army Helicopter rather than Attack Helicopter and applied to both Lynx and Gazelle. The Regiments operated both Lynx and Gazelle, the principal equipments being deployed by these units were:
  • The Armed and un armed versions of the Lynx AH1 (from 1977 - 1994) 
  • The armed Lynx AH7s (from 1987 - 2002), 
  • The unarmed Lynx AH 9 were field in the LBH role from 1991.
  • Unarmed Gazelle AH1 throughout. 

The other significant upgrade during the period was the addition of TI units to the Lynx roof mounted site in 1986.

Each of the three divisions had its own AAC Regiment with 1, 3 and 4 Regiments AAC supporting their respective divisions. 1 and 4 Regiments AAC each had two TOW armed Attack Squadrons and 1 Recce Squadron, whilst 3 Div had 1 Attack Squadron and two Recce Squadrons.  9 Regiment formed in 1988 as part of 24 Air Mobile Brigade, 7 Regiment supported UKLF and the associated AMF roles on the Northern and Southern Flanks throughout the period.
Prior to 9 Regiments formation 
  • 657 was an independent Sqn shown as Part of 19 Bde 
  • 664 was an independent Squadron operating 12 Gazelles in support of the Corps covering Force
Squadrons beginning with 65 were Attack, 66 Recce and 67 LBH.  Composition and organisation of units seemed to vary with geographical location and time which accounts for a degree of confusion around squadron and flight composition.

I have sources which describe Squadron Strength varying from 12 to 18 Aircraft and where Squadrons are composed of single or mixed types.  I have therefore made the following assumptions:
  • For Attack Helicopter Squadrons in BAOR 12 Lynx TOW.
  • For Recce Squadrons in BAOR 12 Gazelle.  
  • For 9 Regiment 657 and 664 Squadron, mixed 6 Gazelle 6 Lynx TOW.
  • For 9 Regiment's LBH squadron, 10 unarmed Lynx.  

For missions the units were task organised in a variety of ways to create mixed groupings of Lynx and Gazelle. The approach to this varied throughout the period and dependant on the organisation of the Squadrons.

  • For attack missions a pair of TOW armed Lynx could work with a Gazelle and for Recce Missions, a pair of Gazelles could work with a TOW armed lynx. Gazelles could also operate in pairs of Aircraft as Air Observation Posts (AOP) capable of directing Artillery and Fast Jets.  
  • In addition HELARMs which were flight or multi flight TOW Lynx missions supported by Recce Gazelle could be tasked against specific targets or killing areas this could be independently or in support of or supported by other arms including Battle groups  and artillery. 
  • In the latter part of the period as ground air concepts developed groups of aircraft would participate in coordinated missions with fast jets and artillery in both cross FEBA operations and CAS (Joint Air Attack Teams, JAAT).
  • with the formation of the Air Assault units and the development of the Air Assault blocking operation sophisticated Aviation/Infantry tank ambushes and blocking actions started to be developed.

24 Air Mobile Brigade and 6 Air Mobile Brigade were the two air mobile units that supported BAOR from 1983. 6 Airmobile was essentially experimental and was a re-roled armoured brigade that operated as part of the reserve 3rd Armoured Division from 1983 to 1987. The result of the experiment was the creation of 24 Air Mobile Brigade in 1988 the two Brigades took different approaches to the incorporation of AH and in addition there Orbats varied over time, I will cover the detail of these units in a later post..

6 Air Mobile is shown grouped with a composite squadron of 9 Lynx AH and 3 Gazelle along with a chinook Squadron and Puma squadron for lift.

24 Air Mobile, was supported from 1988 by 9 Regiment which was formed to full fill this role.  Whilst the build up of the units to complete the Regiment occurred between 1988 and 1991, my assumption   is this would have been accelerated in build up to War with the potential regrouping of independent Squadrons happening faster than it actually did.  From 1994 for those really late period scenarios the  Brigade was supported by 2 AAC regiments 3 and 4 each of 3 Squadrons 2 being 6 AH7 Lynx TOW and 6 AH1 Gazelle with the third squadron shown as 10 AH9 LBH unarmed Lynx.

for my games I currently intend to represent:
  •  1 Squadron of Lynx TOW, 
  • A Squadron of Gazelle
  • A Squadron of LBH Lynx, 
which will provide a variety of options for scenarios with aviation support to Ground units. Scenarios that represent Air/Aviation strikes and ambushes as well as Air Mobile operations.

At an aircraft scale of 1:3 the organisational ambiguity is less relevant each Attack Squadron will have 4 TOW armed Lynx and the Recce squadrons 4 Gazelle with the mixed units as seen in 9 Regiment being composed of two of each and an LBH Squadron being represented by 3 Lynx LBH.  


Avistar, Westland Lynx
British 24 Airmobile Brigade,1999 (Europa Militaria)
The Encyclopedia of the Modern British Army, 1986, 3rd Ed, T Gander
Britains Modern Army, 1995 T Gander
The British Army in Germany, an Orginizational History
Gra Magazine AAC in Europe
Modern British TOE orbit.com
Today's Army Air Corps, 1987, P Beaver
Armies of NATO's Central Front, 1985, D Isbey
British Military Helicopters, 1986, J Everett-Heath
Britain's Armed Forces Today :3 British Army of the Rhine, 1984 T Gandere

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