British army Challenger 3 main battle tank reaches next milestone
British Challenger 3 is a step closer to entering the battlefield following the steel cut on its more powerful and advanced turret. The Challenger 3 tanks are being upgraded by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) under an £800 million contract, which will deliver 148 Challenger 3 tanks and equip the British Army with this modern capability until 2040. Initial Operating Capability for the Challenger 3 tank is expected in 2027.
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Initial Operating Capability for the Challenger 3 tank is expected in 2027. 148 Challenger 3 tanks will equip the British Army until 2040. (Picture source: British Army)
Constructed as part of a £25 million sub-contract with Pearson Engineering in Newcastle, the new turret will ensure the Challenger 3 tanks are equipped with state-of-the-art lethality, upgraded survivability, and world-class surveillance and targeting technologies. Officially announcing this milestone at Pearson Engineering, Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Challenger 3 tanks will be at the forefront of the British Army’s ground force deterrent against our adversaries. They will be equipped with the latest digital enhancements and weaponry, providing support and reassurance to our allies.
This steel cut represents progress on delivering on the ongoing upgrade to British Army capabilities and on investment in skills and manufacturing in the North East and across the U.K.
This valuable investment for Pearson Engineering will sustain 285 skilled roles and will help the company recruit several new technical roles across project management, engineering and design, as well as 20 apprentices under an expanded science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach programme.
Challenger 3 tank upgrades include:
• High-velocity ammunition with faster speeds and increased range
• Digitally programmed ammunition in a 120-millimetre smoothbore gun
• A versatile turret that can be fitted to the tanks of allies and global partners
• A new engine cooling system and suspension to increase accuracy for firing in transit
• A new automatic target detection and tracking system to identify threats
• New thermal long-range cameras, modernising the day/night image system
Challenger 3 Senior Responsible Owner, Brig Nick Cowey, said: “I’m really excited at this key milestone in the Challenger 3 programme being achieved on schedule. The turret fabrication being conducted here by Pearson Engineering is crucial for the delivery of a fully digitised turret, ensuring that our modernised Main Battle Tank is the most lethal in Europe”.
The steel cutting milestone reaffirmed that warfighting remains the cornerstone of deterrence and the bedrock of the British Army. The investment into our renewed Challenger 3 tank is a clear example of implementing the Defence Command Paper ambition and endorses our commitment to investing £3 billion into Army equipment over the next decade, delivering a modernised, adaptable and expeditionary fighting force.