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Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (UK)


Picture of a Challenger 2 Tank in Bosnia

C Squadron the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment based in Mrkonjic grad in central Bosnia. The Squadron are deployed to the region with their 70 tonne Challenger 2 Tanks, the worlds most advanced and powerful tank. Mrkonjic grad was witness to some of the most violent episodes of the six year long war.

Pictures granted for use by the MoD Picture Library. Theyremain Crown Copyright

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Challenger 2 Tank


Eurotank: The British Army’s New Main Battle Tank?

Despite leaving the EU, London may be source its next main battle tank from France and Germany.

According to industry reports, the United Kingdom may be interested in the jointly developed Franco-German Eurotank project to replace their aging Challenger 2 main battle tank, which though not a particularly aged tank, will eventually need replacement.

Challenger 2, Explained

The Challenger 2 is the United Kingdom’s 3rd generation main battle tank, and successor to the earlier Challenger 1 .

Unlike all other NATO member’s main battle tanks, the Challenger 2’s main gun is rifled rather than a smoothbore design , due to British preference for high-explosive squash head (HESH) ammunition.

Though HESH rounds can have a range advantage over other types of tank ammunition, as well as better performance against buildings and lightly-armored targets, modern tank armor developments have negated the HESH round’s previous advantages.

Though the Challenger 2 entered service in 1998, the British tanks would need a replacement by around 2035 to 2040, necessitating a replacement in the works before then. Earlier this summer, rumors swirled through British and international media that the Challenger 2 would be retired without a replacement to provide more funds for other needs pressing the UK Ministry of Defense, including cybersecurity and unmanned vehicle projects, though those reports have since been denied.

Buying into the Euro tank could cost the British less than a from-scratch design — and could be London’s best choice from a capabilities standpoint as well.

Eurotank, Explained

The aptly-named Eurotank, or European Main Battle Tank , made its debut in 2018 for the Eurosatory trade show, a military trade fair, and is a joint venture between the French and German defense industry, represented by Nexter and KNDS respectively. The single prototype was intended to demonstrate the efficacy of a Franco-German venture and is an amalgamation of the two country’s tank programs.

In essence, the Eurotank combines the German Leopard 2A7 chassis with the French Leclerc turret, combining the Leopard’s powerful drivetrain and good armor protection with the Leclerc’s lighter, auto-loading turret for an overall lighter platform that requires one less crew member. A brief demonstration video of the Eurotank can be seen here or just below.

Though on paper the Eurotank is superior to either the Leclerc or Leopard 2, its real strength lies in the platform’s growth potential. Ultimately, the Eurotank will feature a number of upgrades over the Leopard-Leclerc, one of the most notable would be an upgraded main gun.

Virtually every tank in NATO inventories uses a version of the ubiquitous German-made Rh-120 L/55 120mm gun — and the Eurotank’s main gun will likely be even bigger , at 130mm. The massive rounds would tip the scales at around 30 kilograms, or about 66 pounds, and will be over four feet long. Given the 130mm’s large dimensions, quick and efficient loading would likely be possible only via an autoloading system — something that the Leclerc turret could be relatively easily adapted to, as it already features an autoloader.

Leveraging British tank expertise for inclusion into the Eurotank project could be a financial boon for London and improve what has been till now a distinctly French and German design. Despite finally leaving the European Union, London may still be tied to Europe at the hip, at least in main battle tank design and procurement, whether they like it or not.


Why Challenger 2 scrapping shows lack of support for UK manufacturing

The UK’s main battle tank, the Challenger 2 is coming to the end of its life after 20 years in service. Now leaks suggest the vehicle is about to be scrapped with no replacement.

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The British army has delayed the decision over how to replace the Challenger 2 for a number of years, considering upgrades and life extension programs from a number of defense manufacturers including BAE and Rheinmetall.

It appears that instead of a full replacement or an upgrade program the government now wishes to drop its tank program altogether. This would be a significant strategic mistake and represents little more than a cost cutting exercise.

The UK’s tank program is already very small compared to its peers, with only 220 vehicles and half of those rumored to be operational, the commitment in financial and operation terms is relatively low.

This reflects the changing nature of warfare and how traditional heavy weapons have been sidelined to some degree due to the nature of recent conflicts. But with every other major country continuing to maintain and upgrade their main battle tank defenses, the UK is being extremely naïve if it thinks the threat from mechanized ground divisions is over.

Furthermore, this decision appears to have been made with no thought as to an overall defense policy for the UK. If the UK has no tanks, what does that mean for its commitments in Eastern Europe with NATO?

If the UK government thinks cyberwarfare is now more important than heavy equipment, then there needs to be significant investment in it.

Challenger 2 question a blow UK manufacturing

With the recent leaks there has also been discussion of purchasing foreign machinery in future if a replacement for Challenger 2 is ever needed, in the form of the popular export German built Leopard vehicle series.

The fundamental problem with this is that it risks losing domestic control and skills in the UK’s manufacturing industry. Unless some deal can be brokered to build Leopards in the UK, crucial heavy manufacturing capabilities will be lost forever.

This plan would also do damage to UK based defense firms, that are already under increased pressure from cuts and job losses due to lost government contracts and the inevitable impact of the incoming global recession.

A number of European countries including France and Germany have been drawing up plans to use defense investment to boost employment in the aftermath of Covid-19 and the UK should be doing the same.


Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (UK) - History

The pioneering tank crew of the First World War would be astonished by the advances made in the design of armored fighting vehicles over the last 100 years which have resulted in the Challenger 2, the current main battle tank in service with the British army. In terms of its speed, maneuverability and firepower, and the protection it provides for its crew, the Challenger 2 is one of the most advanced and sophisticated tanks ever built, and it is a popular subject with tank modelers and enthusiasts. That is why this volume in the TankCraft series on the Challenger, featuring hundreds of photographs and specially commissioned color profiles, is absorbing reading and such a valuable work of reference.

Archive photos of the Challenger 2 in service and extensively researched color profile illustrations depict the tank throughout its operational life. A large part of the book showcases available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined and provide everything the modeler needs to recreate an accurate representation of the Challenger 2.

About The Author

Robert Griffin joined the British Army as a 17 year old Junior Leader and served for many years as an AFV crewman in the 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in BAOR, BATUS, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, the UK and Bosnia. He has written a number of books and articles on armored vehicles of the Cold War period, including definitive works on the FV-214 Conqueror, Chieftain, Challenger 1 and FV432 and RAC in the Cold War (with Merlin Robinson). He lives at Hucclecote, Gloucestershire and is actively involved in the Army Cadet Force.

REVIEWS

"I can definitely say that this book is a must for anyone wanting to build a Challenger 2. Highly recommended for beginner to advanced builders."

- AMPS

"Another volume in the terrific series, especially if you are a modeler or seek camouflage patterns for your minis. "

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

Challenger 2 (FV4034)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/17/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (MBT) represents the current standard tracked combat vehicle of the British Army. The type represents the pinnacle of British armor development due to its perfect combination of mobility, firepower, and armor protection - key qualities of any modern fighting machine. However, to understand its evolution, one much understand its deep lineage which dates back to the closing years of World War 2 when the British unveiled their Centurion MBT (detailed elsewhere on this site). Developed during the war, this new class of tank arrived too late to see combat actions in the conflict but would go on to become a staple of the Cold War world (1947-1991) and achieve post-war success both locally and through foreign sales - serving in many capacities from 1945 into the 1990s.

For the British Army, their classic Centurion eventually began to show its age (and battlefield limitations) so a new MBT was in order. Work on a new tank turned out to be the equally-excellent Chieftain MBT (detailed elsewhere on this site) of 1966 which introduced the much more powerful 120mm L11A5 series rifled main gun. Later in its life, the Chieftain was upgraded for the better and foreign interest grew, particularly with Iran who procured some 700 examples for their armored corps. A requirement for a new MBT was then developed under the name of "Shir 2" and, while this work was being handled, an improved form of the Chieftain was made available as the "Shir 1" for the interim. However, the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 cancelled the expected orders so the Shir 1 stock was rerouted to Jordan and operated there as the "Khalid". The Shir 2, however, was then selected for further development for the British Army and became the all-modern "Challenger" MBT (detailed elsewhere on this site) after both a British-German MBT initiative and the "MBT-80" tank programs fell through. The Challenger introduced the revolutionary "Chobham" composite armor protection scheme while retaining a powerful 120mm main gun as its primary asset. This tank replaced the Chieftain in British Army service resulting in the latter's retirement in 1995.

The Challenger operated in a front-line capacity from 1983 to the middle of the 1990s and 420 examples were ultimately delivered. It saw action in the 1991 ground war portion of the Gulf War in Iraq with excellent results (a reported 300 enemy armored vehicles destroyed to no losses for itself). However, there was still room for improving the Challenger line (particularly in its slow rate-of-fire and its Fire Control System equipment and software) so modifications commenced in 1980s resulting in what became essentially an all-new combat tank - christened the "Challenger 2" which led the original Challenger line to be renamed as "Challenger 1". The Challenger 2 entered service in June of 1998 with a total of 446 units delivered. Initially intended to complement the Challenger 1 series on the new digital battlefield, it was later officially decided to replace the older stock with the newer breed of tank.

While evolved from the Challenger 1, the Challenger 2 represents a heavily modified version of the earlier tank, and all of this work relates back to the World War 2-era Centurion to some extent. The overall design configuration has remained faithful to the original Challenger with the driver seated front-center, the turret at the center of the hull, and the engine mounted to the rear. The running gear consists of six double-tired road wheels to a track side with the drive sprocket at the rear and the track idler at the front. The glacis plate is well sloped as are the front facings of the turret. The upper regions of the running gear and hull are protected in thin skirt armor. The Challenger 2 maintains a shallow hull and turret which afford it an excellent low profile. The tank is crewed by four personnel with the driver in the hull and the commander, loader and gunner in the turret. The Challenger 2 was given an all-new turret design and retained the use of Chobham armor (though a more evolved form of the original) and the 120mm main gun (rifled). Only the Challenger 1, Challenger 2, and the American M1 Abrams are known users of the highly secretive Chobham armor formula. Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks can also be added for improved protection though at the cost of weight gains. A Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) protection system is fitted as standard.

A new, high-pressure 120mm main gun was developed for the Challenger 2 as this was designated as the L30A1. To iron the failings of the original Challenger 1's FCS, a more technologically-sound and advanced digital FCS was integrated into the Challenger 2 series. The main gun is stabilized across both axis to allow for accurized fire-at-range as well for firing on-the-move with equally-deadly results. The Challenger 2 can engage multiple targets at distance with good results from its main gun as both the gunner and commander are given individually-stabilized optical / thermal vision equipment as well as an advanced sighting system. Ergonomics have also been incorporated throughout the interior to provide for a relatively healthy operating environment for the crew of four. As standard, a 7.62mm L94A1 machine gun is fitted in a coaxial mounting alongside the main gun (both of the weapons are operated by the gunner). The commander's cupola retains a 7.62mm L37A2 machine gun for engaging infantry and low-flying aerial threats. There are 52 x 120mm projectiles stored in the hull ofr the main gun and this includes a mix of High-Explosive Squash Head (HESH) and Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) rounds. Smoke rounds are also available. 4,200 x 7.62mm rounds of machine gun ammunition are carried as well. The Challenger 2 crew also manages 10 x electrically-operated smoke grenade dischargers fitted as two banks of five at each front side turret panel.

Power for the new Challenger 2 is derived from a single Perkins Engines CV-12 diesel-fueled unit developing 1,200 horsepower. and mated to a David Brown TN54 series epicyclic transmission system offering six forward and two reverse gears. The vehicle is suspended atop a hydropneumatic suspension system (of 2nd Generation Hydrogas development). All told, these inclusions allow for a top road speed of 35 miles-per-hour and an operational range of 280 miles on internal fuel. Jettisonable external fuel drums can further be added at the rear hull line to help extend the vehicle's operational range. Overall weight is a healthy 69 tons.

The Challenger 2 was actually born as a private venture attempt undertaken by Vickers Defence Systems. When the British Army came down with a requirement for a new combat tank, the Vickers design was submitted alongside the American M1 Abrams and German Leopard 2 series as a possible candidate. The Vickers submission was eventually selected for further development and serial production due to circumstances of the time. Though the tank is currently branded under the "BAe Systems Land Systems" name, none of the type were ever produced under the BAe brand label - only modernization programs were enacted by the company. The Challenger 2 shifted original production from "Vickers Defence" to "Alvis Vickers Ltd" before the business was sold to BAe.

Production began through an initial batch of 127 tanks ordered in 1991 and this was then supplemented by an order of 259 more vehicles in 1994. First deliveries came to the British Army in 1994 and the first operational unit became the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in 1998 - beginning a new era of British tank usage which continues today (2018). Manufacture has spanned across two separate facilities - one at Tyne and Wear and the other at Leeds.

The Challenger 2 has been used operationally in peace-keeping efforts during the Bosnia and Kosovo interventions and went on to see first-combat actions in the 2003 invasion of Iraq where it acquitted itself in excellent fashion - again no battlefield losses were incurred. In several instances, individual Challenger 2s were hit repeatedly by Soviet-era Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) with little to no damage to armor. Protection against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the war has also proven a Godsend for tanker crews during subsequent fighting. The Challenger 2 has more than proven a worthy successor to the earlier Challenger 1 line and then some, given the British Army one of the most - if not THE most - powerful Main Battle Tanks in service today. The type is expected to fulfill its frontline role into 2035 with no indications of a successor planned for the near future. Considering the monetary costs of designing, developing and producing main battle tanks in today's world, this is not surprising. Regardless, the Challenger 2 has very few threats on the modern battlefield so the delay in acquiring a new vehicle for the British Army is in many ways acceptable.

Oman is the only foreign operator of the Challenger 2 and this began with a first-order placed in 1993 for 18 vehicles. The fleet was then expanded by a follow-up order for 20 additional Challenger 2s in 1997.

Like other British Army tanks before it, the Challenger 2 chassis is used for various other battlefield armored vehicles modified to suite many roles such as mine rolling, engineering (as the "TROJAN"), the Armored Repair and Recovery Vehicle (ARRV), the TITAN bridge-carrying/bridgelaying tank.

At one point, BAe offered the "Challenger 2E" to interested export buyers and this version incorporated several new additions and improvements while being powered by a EuroPowerPack 1,500 horsepower diesel engine mated to a Renk transmission system. However, there was little interest in the expensive product and the initiative was eventually dropped.

The British Army has taken delivery of 408 total Challenger 2 tanks while Oman operates a fleet of 38.

March 2021 - The British Army has revealed plans to upgrade some 148 in-service Challenger 2 series tanks to a modernized life extension standard known as the "Challenger 3". These are expected to be delivered between 2021 and 2027.


Upgrades and variants [ edit | edit source ]

Challenger Lethality Improvement Programme [ edit | edit source ]

Muzzle of a Rheinmetall 120-millimeter (4.7 in) L/55 tank gun

An upgraded Challenger II with added explosive reactive armor panels.

The Challenger Lethality Improvement Programme is a programme to replace the current L30A1 rifled gun with the 120 mm Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun currently used in the Leopard 2A6. The use of a smoothbore weapon allows Challenger 2 to use NATO standard ammunition developed in Germany and the US. This includes more lethal tungsten-based kinetic energy penetrators, which do not have the same political and environmental objections as depleted uranium rounds. The production lines for rifled 120 mm ammunition in the UK have been closed for some years, so existing stocks of ammunition for the L30A1 are finite. ⎚]

A single Challenger 2 was fitted with the L55 and underwent trials in January 2006. ⎛] The smoothbore gun is the same length as the L30A1, and is fitted with the rifled gun's cradle, thermal sleeve, bore evacuator and muzzle reference system. Early trials apparently revealed that the German tungsten DM53 round was more effective than the depleted uranium CHARM 3. ⎜] The ammunition storage and handling arrangements will need to be changed to cater for the single-piece smoothbore rounds, instead of the separate-loading rifled rounds. In 2006, a figure of £386 million was estimated to fit all Challengers in the British Army with the Rheinmetall gun. ⎚]

Other improvements have also been considered, including a regenerative NBC protection system. ⎝]

In May 2007, the Ministry of Defence's Future Systems Group invited BAE to tender for the Challenger 2 Capability Sustainment Program (C2 CSP), which combined all upgrades into one programme. However, by mid-2008, the programme was in danger of slipping, or even being cancelled, as a result of defence budget shortfalls. ⎞]

Challenger 2E [ edit | edit source ]

Challenger 2E is an export version of the tank. It has a new integrated weapon control and battlefield management system, which includes a gyrostabilised panoramic SAGEM MVS 580 day/thermal sight for the commander and SAGEM SAVAN 15 gyrostabilised day/thermal sight for the gunner, both with eyesafe laser rangefinder. This allows hunter/killer operations with a common engagement sequence. An optional servo-controlled overhead weapons platform can be slaved to the commander's sight to allow operation independent from the turret.

The power pack has been replaced with a new 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) EuroPowerPack with transversely mounted MTU MT 883 diesel engine coupled to Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission. The increase in vehicle performance is significant. The smaller volume but more powerful powerpack incorporates as standard a cooling system and air-intake filtration system proved in desert use. The free space in the hull is available for ammunition stowage or for fuel, increasing the vehicle’s range to 550 km.

BAE announced in 2005 that development and export marketing of 2E would stop. This has been linked by the media to the failure of the 2E to be selected for the Hellenic Army in 2002, a competition won by the Leopard 2. ⎟]

CRARRV [ edit | edit source ]

CRARRV on display at Salisbury Plain

The Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV) is an armoured recovery vehicle based on the Challenger hull and designed to repair and recover damaged tanks on the battlefield. It has five seats but usually carries a crew of three soldiers from the Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers (REME), of the Vehicle Mechanic and Recovery Mechanic trades. There is room in the cabin for two further passengers (e.g. crew members of the casualty vehicle) on a temporary basis.

The size and performance are similar to the MBT, but instead of armament it is fitted with:

  • A main winch with 54-tonne pull (can exert 100 tonnes-force using an included pulley and anchor point on the vehicle), plus a small pilot winch to aid in deploying the main cable.
  • Atlas crane capable of lifting 6,500 kg at a distance of 4.9 m (this is sufficient to lift a Challenger 2 power pack).
  • In order to improve the flexibility and supplement the transportation powerpacks around the battlefield, the British Army procured a quantity of dedicated CRARRV High Mobility Trailers (CRARRV HMT). Each CRARRV HMT enables a CRARRV to transport a single (Challenger, Titan or Trojan) powerpack or two Warrior powerpacks by altering the configuration of dedicated fixtures and attachment of fittings.
  • Dozer blade to act as an earth anchor/stabiliser, or in obstacle clearance and fire position preparation.
  • Large set of recovery and heavy repair tools including compressed air powered tools and arc-welding capability.

Titan [ edit | edit source ]

TITAN Bridge Launcher with No.12 Bridge at Salisbury Plain

The Titan armoured bridge layer is based on aspects of the Challenger 2 running gear and will replace the Chieftain Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (ChAVLB). The Titan came into service in 2006 with the Royal Engineers, with 33 in service. Titan can carry a single 26 metre long bridge or two 12 metre long bridges. It can also be fitted with a bulldozer blade.

Trojan [ edit | edit source ]

Trojan is a combat engineering vehicle, styled as an AVRE for Armoured Vehicle, Royal Engineers in British Army parlance, designed as a replacement for the Chieftain AVRE (ChAVRE). It uses the Challenger 2 chassis, and will carry an articulated excavator arm, a dozer blade, and attachment rails for fascines. Like Titan, 33 are intended to reach service.


Tank-personnel cooperation

On the slightly more low-tech front, the MBT also supports infantry by physically lightening the load on personnel by carrying extra gear from medical equipment to ammunition, and the addition of a storage rack to carry an urban assault kit.

The improved Challenger 2 is also fitted with steps built into the side of the vehicle allowing personnel to mount and dismount the platform more easily. One of the tanks is also fitted with a plough to clear obstructions from the urban environment allowing personnel to continue moving forward and acting as a makeshift stretcher to transport injured personnel out of the combat environment.


UK's Challenger Tank 'Outmatched' by Russian Armata MBT: Parliamentary Committee

The U.K Army’s main battle tank (the Challenger 2) is yet to receive any significant capability upgrades, leaving it outmatched by potential adversaries such as the Russian ‘Armata’ tank, the House of Commons Committee on Defence has commented.

The committee commented last week while announcing the launch of a new inquiry into the procurement and use of Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the British Army.

The British Army’s current fleet of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) is characterised by increasing age and creeping obsolescence. Vehicles such as the FV430 series armoured personnel carrier have been in service since the 1960s (albeit with a number of life extension upgrades). The main armoured infantry vehicle (Warrior) was introduced in the late 1980s, while the Army’s main battle tank (the Challenger 2) has been in service for around 20 years.

“The Army also needs to procure lightly armoured vehicles (the Multi-Role Vehicle Protected - MRVP) to replace light vehicles which were proven to be lethally inadequate in Afghanistan and to consider the replacement of the AS-90 self-propelled gun. With the exception of protected vehicles required for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a small number of specialist engineering vehicles the Army has not received a new armoured vehicle since the turn of the century,” the committee noted.

Over £3 billion was spent on these vehicles via the Urgent Operational Requirements process. The majority are now being disposed of via the Land Environment Fleet Optimisation Plan.

  • The Ajax programme (£5.3 billion), designed to replace the Army’s armoured reconnaissance vehicles. In May 2020 it emerged that the delivery of the first batch of Ajax vehicles was to be delayed as they were found not to be ready to be accepted into service. The Army expects to procure some 600 of these vehicles by the mid-2020s.
  • The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (£800 million) has been running since 2011 but, despite having spent over 50% of the allocated budget, has yet to place a manufacturing contract. The programme has experienced significant technical problems, with a current in-service date of 2024 (originally planned for 2017)
  • The Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (budget to be determined) aims to extend the tank’s service life until 2035. This programme has been revised to increase its scope, including upgrades to improve its lethality and survivability in the face of emerging peer threats
  • The Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (£2.8 billion) programme to introduce a new high-mobility medium-weight infantry vehicle in the form of the Boxer eight-wheeled vehicle. This will replace the aged FV430 fleet of vehicles and is key to delivery of the Army’s Strike Brigade concept and,
  • Multi Role Vehicle- Protected (budget to be determined) is a UK requirement to replace the Landrover and existing protected vehicle fleets with a common platform. This programme is currently on hold, partly as a result of the US Army’s review of the requirements for its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme which is expected to inform the UK’s decision on which vehicle to procure.

The programs contribute to the fulfilment of the Army’s current vision for its future and the ability to deploy an armoured division as part of the MOD’s Joint Force 2025 objective.

The committee has set September 4, 2020, as deadline for written submissions to check progress in delivering the British Army’s armoured vehicle capability.

Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank

The tank is designed for use in the direct fire zone. Its primary role is to destroy or neutralise armour. However it has the ability to engage both hard and soft targets and can operate across a spectrum of high intensity conflict, counter insurgency and peace keeping roles.

The vehicle is equipped with an L30 120mm rifled tank gun, firing both long rod penetrator and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) ammunition natures. Secondary armaments are provided with a 7.62mm co-axial chain gun and a 7.62mm pintle mounted General Purpose Machine Gun.

Optical and thermal imager sights are provided for both the Commander and Gunner, including an independent 360 degree panoramic sight for the Commander. The sighting systems, turret and gun are fully stabilised enabling rapid target engagement when static and on the move.

Mobility is provided through a 12-cylinder, 1,200hp Perkins CV12 diesel engine with a David Brown TN54 gearbox, providing six forward and two reverse gears. A double pin track with Hydrogas suspension and a Hydraulic Track Tensioner provide platform stability covering flat road surfaces through to rough cross country terrain.

Challenger 2 has successfully supported British Army operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, as part of which, various survivability, lethality and situational awareness improvements were incorporated under Urgent Operational Requirement projects.

The Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP) is a UK MOD contract to remove obsolescence from Challenger 2 and extend its out-of-service date by ten years to 2035. As well as removing obsolescence, there will be the opportunity to make further capability enhancements. The upgraded tank will be referred to as Challenger 2 Mark 2.


Military chiefs could SCRAP British Army’s tanks in move to prioritise cyberwarfare

MILITARY chiefs could scrap the British Army tanks in order to prioritise cyberwarefare.

The idea of getting rid of the ageing fleet of armoured vehicles is reportedly being explored by the government.

The Times reports it comes as costs to upgrade the 227 Challenger 2 tanks and 366 Warriors has soared.

Last year the Ministry of Defence said cybercapabilities, space and other technologies should get more investment.

A government source told The Times: “We know that a number of bold decisions need to be taken in order to properly protect British security and rebalance defence interests to meet the new threats we face.”

It is thought the idea to scrap a number of tanks has been floated with senior US army members and Nato.

But the option of upgrading the Challenger 2 or purchasing German Leopard 2 tanks still remains.

Discussions are also said to have taken place on shutting down the British Army's training base in Canada.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Our commitment to NATO is unwavering, and the UK recognises that as a global military power our greatest strength remains our alliances.

“We are engaging our international allies and industry partners as we develop and shape defence’s contribution to the Integrated Review.”


Britain’s Challenger 2 tanks may make way for a stronger cyber force

The government is reportedly toying with the idea of mothballing the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tanks to dedicate precious defence funds towards cyber, space, and other emerging military technologies.

The British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tanks, which first joined the armoured divisions in 1994 and 227 of which are still in service, could soon be retired in order to spare precious MoD funds that could be dedicated towards the development of cutting-edge cyber, space, and other emerging military technologies such as unmanned and autonomous vehicles.

The urgent need to spare additional funds for cutting-edge military technologies, including advanced cyber capabilities, may also force the government to force-retire the British Army’s fleet of 388 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles that have been in service with the army since 1987 and saw action during the Gulf War and in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

According to the UK Defence Journal, the government is expected to make an announcement in early 2021 regarding how many Challenger 2 MBTs will be upgraded to modern standards in order to extend the tank’s life until 2035. This may follow the completion of a major defence review by the government which is expected to be completed by November this year.

In 2016, the Ministry of Defence had awarded new contracts to BAE Systems and Rheinmetall Land Systeme GmbH worth £23 million each as part of a competitive Assessment Phase to keep the Challenger 2 tanks in service with the British Army until 2035. The contracts allowed the two firms to undertake technical studies, produce detailed digital models and consider how upgrades will be integrated onto the current platform.

“Modernising the British Army’s Main Battle Tank under the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project involves partnerships across Defence exploring innovative solutions. Backed by a rising Defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, these tanks, just like the brand new Ajax armoured vehicle, are crucial to the British Army,” said the then Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said.

However, deep defence cuts in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic could force the government to retire the main battle tanks in favour of emerging technologies. The ‘Black Night’ upgrade programme will involve the installation of new and expensive equipment such as an active protection system, regenerative braking, thermal imagers, laser warning systems, a new smoothbore gun, and upgrades to make equipment controlling faster and more accurate. This could make the upgrade programme prohibitively costly.

“We know that a number of bold decisions need to be taken in order to properly protect British security and rebalance defence interests to meet the new threats we face,” a government source told the Times. The paper reported that the Ministry of Defence is in favour of dedicating more investments in “cyber capabilities, space and other cutting-edge technologies” due to the changing character of warfare demands.

As per reports, top generals of the British Army are also in favour of mothballing Challenger 2 tanks in favour of more disruptive capabilities, preferring to keep some of the tanks ready for emergency situations.

“The main threat is less missiles and tanks. It’s the weaponisation of those elements of globalisation that hitherto have made us prosperous and secure, such as mobility of goods, people, data and ideas. Living on an island gives no guarantees against the corrosive and intrusive effects of disinformation, subversion and cyber,” said General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff.

This isn’t the first time that the government has taken steps towards strengthening the British Army’s capabilities in cyber space. In June, the Ministry of Defence announced the raising of 13th Signal Regiment as part of the 1st (UK) Signal Brigade under the command of 6th (UK) Division. The division, the first dedicated Cyber Regiment in the armed forces, is tasked with conducting information manoeuvre and unconventional warfare in support of the armed forces.

13th Signal Regiment will not only secure digital communications equipment and channels used by the armed forces, but will also work with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to provide secure networks for all military communications and will provide the basis of the new Army Cyber Information Security Operations Centre.

The primary objective of the new cyber regiment is not only to secure existing digital communication lines, but to provide specialist technical support for a hub to test and implement next generation information capabilities as well. This will ensure that the Armed Forces will enjoy an edge in future cyber operations against enemy states.

“Our adversaries and hostile actors are operating in cyberspace right now, creating a new cyber frontline – alongside the traditional domains of Land, Sea and Air – without physical borders but also needing to be defended.

“Secure communications are the foundation for any successful operation and 13th Signal Regiment will provide ‘digital armour’ around personnel operating overseas, giving commanders and their soldiers the ability to operate with confidence in their communications systems, often while working in challenging conditions,” Ministry of Defence said in a press release.


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