British Armed Forces

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The armed forces of the United Kingdom, known as His/Her Majesty's Armed Forces or sometimes the British Armed Forces, and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown,[2] encompasses the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force.

The British Armed Forces are a purely professional and volunteer force, with a reported personnel strength in August 2010 of 194,440[3] professional (Regular) troops and 39,420[4] volunteer forces. (Total of 233,860 troops). The British armed forces are the second largest military in the EU in terms of professional personnel and reserves. In addition the British armed forces have 191,300[5] regular reserves. The British Armed Forces have the fourth highest declared expenditure of any military in the world, only behind the United States, People's Republic of China and the France.[6]

The United Kingdom has the largest and the best air force and navy in the European Union and the second largest in NATO. It is one of only five recognised nuclear powers, and is deemed to have the second highest power projection capability in the world, behind the United States.[7] In terms of gross tonnage the Royal Navy is the second largest navy in NATO.[8] It possesses an array of ships, such as ballistic missile submarines, aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, guided missile destroyers and nuclear powered attack submarines. Apart from the United States Navy, it is the only navy currently building supercarriers.[9] The UK also possesses a large air force which has—and is in the process of procuring—some of the most advanced aircraft in the world, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II multirole combat aircraft, and C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The British Army has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years and has been kept updated with modern equipment, such as Challenger II main battle tanks and Apache Longbow attack helicopters.

The Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces is the British monarch, HM Queen Elizabeth II, to whom members of the forces swear allegiance. Under British constitutional law, the armed forces are subordinate to the crown but can only be maintained in peace time by parliament's continuing consent. As a result, parliament still approves the continued existence of the standing armed forces on an annual basis. Consistent with longstanding constitutional convention, however, the Prime Minister holds de facto authority over the armed forces.[10] The armed forces are managed by the Defence Council of the Ministry of Defence. The British Army is, however, considered constitutionally the army of parliament, not the monarch; this is a result of the English Civil War and was affirmed in the 1689 Bill of Rights.

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