United Kingdom orders 148 Challenger 3 Main Battle Tanks from Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land
The British Army will receive a fleet of 148 Challenger 3 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) as part of an £800 million contract with Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), the British Defence Secretary has announced on May 7, 2021.
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Challenger 3 main battle tank. (Picture source British MoD)
The new Challenger 3 MBT (Main Battle Tank) will carry additional high-velocity ammunition able to travel at faster speeds with an increased range. Ammunition will also be programmed digitally from a new turret with a 120-millimeter smoothbore gun. This cutting-edge tank will also feature an upgraded engine with a new cooling system and suspension to improve accuracy when firing in transit.
New automatic target detection and tracking system will be used to identify threats, whilst new thermal long-range cameras will be fitted as part of a day/night image system.
As part of the Army’s commitments to adapt to meet future threats, Challenger 3 will be fully digitalized integrating information from all domains whilst being able to travel up to 60mph. The Challenger 3 tank is being developed to replace the current Challenger 2 tank which has been in service since 1998. Full Operating Capability for the tank is planned for 2030, with initial operating capability expected by 2027.
As outlined in the recent Defence Command Paper, the British Army will be more deployable and better protected in the face of our adversaries. The announcement of Challenger 3 reaffirms our commitment to invest £3-billion into Army equipment over the next decade, delivering a modernized, adaptable, and expeditionary fighting force.
As part of the Challenger 3's layered protection, the fleet will also be the first to receive the best active protection system (APS) allowing it to recognise incoming threats and neutralise them. The tank will undergo full electromagnetic testing to ensure it is survivable in the most demanding of sensor saturated battlefields.
The world leading new modular armour has been developed through advances in armour technology provided by the in-house Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) funded armour expertise held within Dstl. This Dstl owned Intellectual Property (IP) has generated significant interest and is being exploited through the close links Dstl has with MOD and Industry.
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 new suite of sights gives the tank commander an independent day/night all-weather hunter killer capability, which allows them to acquire and engage targets quicker than potential adversaries.
The tank has also been designed to play its part in multi-domain warfare whilst retaining the ability to operate in the littoral environment (between the land and sea) in support of the Future Commando Force.
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.
Citing Nicholas Drummond, British military expert, The Challenger 3 MBT will use Thales sights as Ajax for commonality. Mix of DM11 PAB (Programmable Air Burst) and DM53 APFSDS ammo in L55A1 gun restore battlefield primacy. Separate driveline upgrade expected to include MTU883 powerpack plus Renk transmission.