Challenger 2 main battle tank will be upgraded to Challenger 3 standard with many outstanding improvements
The first Challenger 3 MBT will be delivered in 2027, the rest in 2030. Of the 227 Challenger 2 currently in service in the British Army, only 148 will be upgraded to the Challenger 3 standard, with the remainder expected to retire.
Earlier, in August 2020, the British Ministry of Defense considered removing all of its tanks, in order to reduce the cost of the ground forces. In recent times, the UK has increasingly focused on developing naval capabilities, partly due to the security landscape after the Cold War.
Challenger 3 is expected to be a deeply modernized version of the Challenger 2, with the combat system to be fully digitized. This contract worth 800 million pounds (1.1 billion USD) will provide 200 skilled jobs at Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land, 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.
Challenger 3 will be capable of reaching top speeds of up to 97 km/h, thanks to an improved engine MTU 833 and a Renk gearbox. It will also have a greater range than its predecessor. Challenger 3 will replace the current 120 mm smoothbore gun with a new 120mm L55A1 smoothbore gun which uses the most advanced globally available ammunition. This gun will be able to use armor-piercing ammunition DM53 and DM11 with aerial detonation. The L55A1 will be the equivalent of the German Rh-120 L/55 gun found on some variants of the Leopard 2.
Challenger 3 will be fitted with a digitised backbone connecting it to the other combat vehicles that make up the fighting Brigade, enabling data sharing across domains to deliver information advantage and enable multi domain Integration and an edge over adversaries. With its modular design, it offers operational commanders an enhanced survivability suite capable of taking on any battlefield threats that it is likely to encounter across the world.
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.