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German Leopard 2 MBT could be an option to replace British army Challenger 2 tanks

According to information published by the BBC website, the British army is looking a number of options to modernize its fleet of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) Challenger 2. The British MoD (Ministry of Defense) options could include the acquisition of German Leopard 2 MBTs or the modernization of Challenger 2, currently in service with the British army.
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Leopard 2A7+ Main Battle Tank of Qatari Army. (Picture source The Modelling News website)

The FV4034 Challenger 2 is a third-generation British main battle tank (MBT) in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman. It was designed and built by the British company Vickers Defence Systems (now known as BAE Systems Land & Armaments).

In June 1991, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) placed a £520 million order for 140 tanks with a further 268 ordered in 1994. Production began in 1993 and the unit's tanks were delivered in July 1994, replacing the Challenger 1. The tank entered service with the British Army in 1998, with the last delivered in 2002. It is expected to remain in service until 2035.

In December 2016, the British MoD has concluded a contract with BAE Systems and Rheinmetall Land Systeme for the assessment phase of the Challenger 2 LEP Life Extension Programme to replace obsolete equipment, enhance protection, increase range and provide improved lethality of the tank until an out of service date of 2035 - extending its life from 2025.

The British MoD invested £53 million in the assessment phase. Each contractor receives £23 million, with an additional £7 million being set aside to cover additional, unspecified work. The Rheinmetall consortium includes BMT, Pearson Engineering, Supacat, and Thales UK and includes an option to retrofit Rheinmetall's 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun should additional funds be made available. The BAE team includes General Dynamics UK, Qinetiq, Leonardo, Moog, and Safran.

In October 2018, BAE Systems unveiled its proposed Challenger 2 LEP technology demonstrator, the “Black Night”. The new improvements include a Safran Paseo commander’s independent sight, Leonardo thermal imager for the gunner, and Leonardo night sight DNVS 4. The Black Night Challenger 2 turret has been modified to improve the speed of traverse and provides greater space as well as regenerative braking to generate and store power. Other enhancements include a laser warning system and an active protection system.

At DSEI 2019, the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) joint venture business is demonstrating its expertise in the world of armored combat vehicles showing demonstrator for the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP), which included improved fight ability, survivability, surveillance & target acquisition, and lethality with the integration of DM11 programmable High Explosive (HE) tank ammunition.

German Leopard 2 MBT could be an option to replace British army Challenger 2 tanks 925 002
Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank of the British army. (Picture British MoD)

According to the Forbes website, modernized the Challenger 2 could take a lot of time and money while acquiring German-made Leopard 2 MBT would enter service faster and, in the long run, be cheaper than the modernization of current British main battle tanks.

Citing Forbes, The Leopard 2 is less risky for the United Kingdom because its existing market for spares, upgrades, and other support is huge. The British Leopards would be just a small portion of a global fleet of thousands of vehicles. London would need to order just 150 Leopard 2s to make local production commercially viable.

The Leopard 2 A7+ is the latest generation of main battle tanks in the family of Leopard 2. It was unveiled in June 2010 during the Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris, France. The Leopard 2A7 and 2A7+ are now in service with Qatar, Denmark, and Hungary.

The Leopard 2A7+ keeps the general design of the Leopard 2A6 with a crew of four including a driver, commander, gunner, and loader. It features a modular protection kit with passive armor modules to offer 360° protection to the crew from anti-tank missiles, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire.

The Leopard 2A7+ is armed with a 120mm L55 / L44 smoothbore gun, which is able to fire standard NATO ammunition and new programmable 120mm HE-rounds. The roof of the turret is fitted with an FLW 200 modular remote controlled light weapon station that can be armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

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