Used by the British Army since 1983, the Challenger 1 was the first British tank to be fitted with Chobham composite armor, paving the way for a new generation of modern British main battle tanks.
A total of 420 Challengers were built, at a cost of around £2 million each. Challenger 1 served with Chieftain until being replaced by Challenger 2 in 2001.
The history of the Challenger 1 was related to an Iranian order for an improved version of the Chieftain tank, the Chieftain Shir 2. The order was later cancelled due to Iranian revolution. However the project was taken over by the British MoD, design was further reworked and the tank became known as the Challenger.
Challenger has a weight of 62 tons, a length of 11.5 m, a width of 3.51 m, and a height of 2.95 m. Its crew of 4 includes: commander, gunner, loader, and driver.
Challenger carries all the characteristics of a modern main battle tank. The driver managed his position at the front-center of the hull while the remaining crew took positions in the turret. The gunner was seated at the front right of the turret with the commander directly behind. The loader was to their right and managed the ammunition and main gun breech via commands from the commander and gunner as needed.
The most advanced aspect of the Challenger 1 design was its Chobham armour, which gave protection far superior to any monolithic Rolled Homogeneous Armour, then standard of western tank armour material. This armour was later adopted by other designs, including the American M1 Abrams. Additionally, the hydropneumatic suspension provided outstanding cross-country performance through the long suspension arm travel and controlled bump and rebound behaviour offered.