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Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank

Challenger 3Challenger 3 main battle tank was unveiled in 2021 based on a modified Challenger 2 hull. The Challenger 3 program, awarded to Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) on 07 May 2021, will cover the upgrade of 148 of the British Army's 227. The tank has a new turret armed with a new 120 mm smoothbore gun. The new smoothbore gun can use the most advanced globally available ammunition. Engine and suspension were upgraded. Protection has been improved. Overall the upgraded Challenger 3 is deadlier and better protected than the Challenger 2. A contract worth 800 million ($1 billion) was signed to produce 148 of these new MBTs for the British Army. Initial operating capability was expected by 2027 and full operating capability expected by 2030. This would allow extending the service lives of the Challenger 2 hulls up until 2040 and beyond.

The Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme is a UK MOD programme to deliver the next generation of heavy armoured capability. The programme will deliver Challenger 3, a network-enabled digital main battle tank that will reinvigorate the UKs and Shropshires design and engineering skills. That digital element is critical and feeds into other Government streams of thinking. As I am sure the British Army would say, it will deliver a world-class capability, generating significant export opportunities and support for global Britain, and the UKs wider economic growth. The maintenance of Challenger 2 will be carried out by Babcock Defence Support Group.

This major upgrade of the British Armys main battle tank featuring extra firepower and cutting-edge protection systems will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of tank design, poised to respond to future global threats and challenges.

The contract with Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) to deliver 148 Challenger 3 tanks will extend the platforms out of service date to 2040. It will provide 200 skilled jobs at RBSL, including 130 engineers and 70 technicians. A further 450 jobs will be established throughout the wider supply chain across the West Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Isle of Wight.

It will offer export opportunities and will support the case for the UK participation in any future international tank programs.

The overhaul will include:

  • a new 120mm smoothbore gun which uses the most advanced globally available ammunition
  • a new suite of sights providing tank commanders with enhanced day and night targeting abilities new modular armour
  • an active protection system
  • a turret that can be fitted to the tanks of allies and global partners

Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Chris Tickell CBE said: The Integrated Review described a transformed Army that will be more lethal, better protected and better connected than any of its comparators. Challenger 3 is a manifestation of exactly that change and will sit at the heart of our warfighting capability. Its digital open architecture will ensure that it is integrated across the battlefield, its main armament will overmatch its adversaries and the crew will be afforded a unique level of protection. It is a battle winner.

The UKs Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) James McGeary said: Key design changes on the Challenger 3 provide a growth path to further increase the already enhanced lethality offered. These growth options will ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of Main Battle Tank design and can adapt and respond to future threats and challenges.

Challenger 3 will lead NATO armoured forces with the highest levels of lethality and survivability on the battlefields of today and out to 2040. It achieves this not only by using the new gun, but also by making use of the most advanced ammunition available globally from our allies.

The Government published a Defence Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, on 22 March 2021. "3rd (UK) Division will remain at the heart of warfighting. The Defence Secretarys statement to the House gave this additional detail: third division will have two modernised heavy brigades, built around 148 upgraded Challenger 3 tanks and Ajax armoured reconnaissance vehicles, with an accelerated introduction of Boxer armoured personnel carriers."

All in all, the British Armys new and improved Main Battle Tank will pack a real punch and represents a major generational upgrade in capability. It will be Defences only 24 hour, all-weather, mobile, protected, precision, direct fire, anti-armour manoeuvre capability and will be critical to Defences ability to deliver hard power, underpinning British credibility in the land domain and underwriting our commitments to allies.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 13:48:54 ZULU