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16 Air Assault Brigade

16 Air Assault Brigade was formed on 1 September 1999 following the Strategic Defence Review. It was born of an amalgamation of elements of 5 Airborne Brigade and 24 Airmobile Brigade, bringing together the agility and reach of airborne forces with the potency of the attack helicopter.

The Brigade's name is derived from 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions, which saw distinguished service during the Second World War. 16 Air Assault Brigade's 'Striking Eagle' badge was adopted from the Special Training Centre in Lochailot, Scotland, where Special Forces and Airborne troops were trained between 1943 and 1945.

The maroon and light blue colours of the badge represent the airborne (parachute) and aviation (attack helicopter and utility helicopter) elements of the Brigade respectively. As the British Army's premier rapid response formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade has served in the vanguard of recent operational deployments to Sierra Leone, Macedonia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

With 8,000 personnel, 16 Air Assault Brigade is the largest Brigade in the British Army. Its structure makes it highly flexible and capable. The Units, listed below, provide Air Assault Infantry, Parachute Battalions, Signals, Pathfinders, Attack and Utility Aviation, Artillery, Engineers, Armoured Recce, Logistic and Equipment Support, Medical and Provost capabilities.

Rapid Reaction Force

In combination with Offensive Air Support, Air Transport and Support Helicopters, the Brigade is a light, adaptable and potent force, packing a heavy punch wherever required around the world.

It remains at high readiness as the UK's Airborne Task Force.

A paratrooper waits for the signal to jump from a Hercules aircraft


The Brigade returned in April 2011 from its deployment on Operation HERRICK 13 in Afghanistan where it was the lead formation in command of Task Force Helmand, in Lashkar Gah.

Based in Colchester, Essex, the Brigade Headquarters is formed from both Army and RAF personnel enabling it to integrate Air and Land operations. 16 Air Assault Brigade is the only operational brigade in the British Army capable of delivering air manoeuvre, air assault and airborne operations.

Airborne Taskforce

Since returning from Afghanistan earlier in the year, 16 Air Assault Brigade has resumed its core role as the Army’s very high-readiness force, ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice as part of the United Kingdom’s response to contingency.

In October 2011 more than 1,000 troops took part in Exercise JOINT WARRIOR in southwest Scotland to confirm their readiness for the role. The Airborne Taskforce is based around the airborne infantry of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment and includes soldiers from Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, with the attached artillery, engineering, signals, logistics and medical support it needs to conduct operations.

Units and elements of the Brigade

7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery
23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault)
1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
3 Regiment Army Air Corps
4 Regiment Army Air Corps
9 Regiment Army Air Corps
13 Air Assault Regiment Royal Logistics Corps
16 Medical Regiment
7 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
D Squadron The Household Cavalry Regiment
216 (Parachute) Signals Squadron
156 Provost Company Royal Military Police
Pathfinder Platoon