The British have long been thinking about equipping the Armed Forces with more powerful tanks. Now, at last, these plans have begun to be implemented: as it became known, the British Army will receive 148 Challenger 3 Main Battle Tanks.
Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) signed an £800 million ($1.1 billion) contract with the British Ministry of Defense to modernize Challenger 2 tanks. The upgraded vehicle, to be called Challenger 3, will be a network-enabled, digital Main Battle Tank with state-of-the-art lethality, upgraded survivability, plus world-class surveillance and target acquisition capabilities.
It will be armed with the latest 120-mm High-Pressure L55A1 smooth-bore main gun, which will fire kinetic energy anti-tank rounds as well as programmable multipurpose shells. The gun is also complete with increased first-hit capability and the latest fire support technology. This gun will be housed in a new digitized turret providing better crew protection, and the long-range commander and gunner primary sights will also be improved with automatic target detection and acquisition.
The Challenger 3 tank will also have an updated engine with a new cooling system and suspension to improve accuracy when firing on the go.
All in all, the British Army’s new and improved Main Battle Tank will pack a real punch and represents a major generational upgrade in capability. It will be Defence’s only 24 hours, all-weather, mobile, protected, precision, direct fire, anti-armor maneuver capability.
The work will be led out of RBSL’s Telford manufacturing facility with engineering support from Heavy Armour specialists based at Telford and other RBSL sites in Washington (North East) and Bristol. The program will commence in 2021, with an expected in-service date of 2027.
The £800 million investment will also create hundreds of highly skilled jobs across the country, ensuring soldiers benefit from the best of British engineering. The 148 Challenger 3 will only become fully operational in 2030, but from 2027 they will begin to replace the 227 tanks Challenger 2 in service since 1998.