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First confirmed destruction of UK-supplied Challenger 2 tank by Russian Forces in Ukraine

According to a tweet by War Noir on September 5, 2023, Russian Forces successfully destroyed one of the 14 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) donated by the United Kingdom to Ukraine. The incident occurred near Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and targeted a tank belonging to the 82nd Air Assault Brigade.
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Several details confirm the first destruction of a UK-supplied Challenger 2 tank in Ukraine (Picture source: War Noir/Twitter and Wikimedia)

An analysis of the footage by the Army Recognition editorial team confirms this significant event and provides insights into various key details. The analysis reveals distinct features of the Challenger 2 tank, including the muzzle reference system at the end of the gun (1), the circular fume extractor with straight ends (2), the angled front of the turret with a rectangular box for optics above the gun's base, and a curved rear turret with an identifiable antenna base (4). Furthermore, a close examination of the tank's barrel showed characteristic ripples of a thermal sleeve, which adds credibility to the assessment.

While the exact Russian weapon responsible for the tank's destruction (at the time of the first publication of this article) and the fate of its crew remain unknown, the video suggests that the tank sustained a direct hit on its left flank, as indicated by the location of flames visible in the footage. The 82nd Air Assault Brigade, to which this tank belonged, had recently been involved in counter-offensive operations alongside other combat vehicles, including Marder 1A3s and Strykers.

According to a later tweet by Clash Report on September 5, 2023, the Challenger 2 was destroyed by a Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).

The Kornet missile possesses a substantial range, with the capacity to engage targets at distances of up to 5.5 kilometers (approximately 3.4 miles) for the Kornet-EM variant, which is an extended-range version. This extended range allows the missile to engage enemy tanks and other armored targets from a secure distance.

The Kornet ATGM is designed to effectively penetrate modern tank armor. It utilizes a tandem-charge warhead, which can defeat reactive armor and penetrate armor with a thickness ranging from 1,100 to 1,300 millimeters of Rolled Homogeneous Armor (RHA) after the reactive armor has been triggered. This level of armor penetration ensures the Kornet's effectiveness against various armored vehicles, including main battle tanks such as the Leopard, Challenger, and the American M1A1 Abrams.

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A better view of the Challenger 2 wreckage, taken by a Russian drone (Picture source: Frontbird/Telegram)

This incident marks a significant development since January 2023 when the British Ministry of Defense announced the donation of a squadron of 14 Challenger 2 MBTs from the British army military inventory to Ukraine. The tanks were supplied with their associated ammunition and were intended to replace the aging Soviet-made T-80BV tanks currently in service with Ukrainian air assault brigades.

The Challenger 2, which entered service with the British Army in 1998, is currently undergoing a life extension program to extend its service life until 2035. Known for its combat effectiveness, the tank has played roles in various conflicts, including operations in Iraq in the 2000s. It is currently in service with British army units such as the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars, and the Royal Tank Regiment.

This main battle tank features a conventional design, with a crew of four, including the driver positioned at the front center of the hull. The turret, housing the commander, gunner, and loader, is situated in the middle, while the powerpack resides at the rear. To enhance battlefield survivability, the turret and hull incorporate Chobham composite ceramic armor over the frontal arc, providing resistance against shaped charge jets and kinetic energy penetrators.

The Challenger 2 is armed with a 120 mm rifled tank gun designated as the L30A, equipped with a thermal sleeve, fume extractor, and muzzle reference system. This gun can fire various projectiles, including armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive squash head (HESH), smoke rounds, and depleted uranium (DU) rounds with a stick-charge propellant. Additionally, the tank features a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun for engaging infantry and lighter targets at close ranges. An additional 7.62mm machine gun is mounted on the loader hatch.

The Challenger 2 is powered by a 12-cylinder Perkins CV12 diesel engine generating 1,500 hp, coupled to a David Brown TN54 gearbox with six forward and two reverse gears. This combination allows the tank to achieve a maximum road speed of 59 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 450 km.


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