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Ukrainian Soldiers Enhance Protection of British-Donated Challenger 2 Tanks Against Russian Threats.

| Defense News Army 2024

Ukrainian soldiers have been reported to make crucial upgrades to the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks, a contribution from the United Kingdom aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense capabilities following the invasion of the country by Russian troops. A recent video by the British magazine "The Sun" showcases these enhancements, designed to increase the protection of the tanks against the evolving threats in the Ukrainian conflict zone and new Russian threats.
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The British Challenger 2 tank used by Ukrainian soldiers is now fitted with wire cage armor mounted on the sides of the hull. (Picture source video footage The Sun)

The British Challenger 2 has long been recognized as one of the best-protected main battle tanks globally, a distinction it owes to several key design features and technological advancements. Its armor, composed of the classified Chobham/Dorchester composite, provides outstanding protection against both kinetic energy penetrators and chemical energy munitions, setting a benchmark in tank armor technology.

The Challenger 2's turret is renowned for its exceptional durability, capable of withstanding hits from most anti-tank weaponry. Furthermore, its comprehensive protection is augmented by an advanced fire control system and a high degree of survivability features, such as NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) protection systems and automatic fire suppression capabilities. This blend of superior armor, cutting-edge defensive systems, and operational effectiveness underpins the Challenger 2's reputation as a preeminent force on the battlefield, designed to ensure crew survivability against a broad spectrum of threats.

The original British Challenger 2 has received comprehensive modifications at the hands of Ukrainian forces. These upgrades are not just superficial adjustments but are aimed at significantly increasing the protection for the crew inside, addressing the unique challenges posed by the Ukrainian battlefield. Among the notable improvements, the tanks' hull sides have been outfitted with grill armors and rubber side skirts, providing additional layers of defense against anti-tank weapons.

Further enhancing the tank's combat readiness, the gunner's machine gun now boasts an armored shield at the front, offering critical protection for the operator during engagements. Additionally, the front of the hull has been equipped with wire cage armor, an innovative solution aimed at thwarting the effectiveness of anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades by detonating them before they can impact the tank's main armor.

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The front of the hull is also fitted with wire cage armor. (Picture source video footage The Sun)

The Challenger 2 tank is also able to fire the L27 APFSDS (Armour-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot) rounds, also known as CHARM 3 (CHallenger ARMament 3). These rounds are notable for their longer penetrator made of depleted uranium, specifically designed to defeat complex armor arrays and advanced forms of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA).

This ammunition notably enhances the tank's ability to engage and defeat modern armored threats, equipping Ukrainian forces with a critical advantage in overcoming the defenses of contemporary Russian main battle tanks, including the T-90M, as well as modernized variants of the T-80 and T-72B3. These tanks, known for their advanced armor configurations, represent a significant challenge on the battlefield. The L27 APFSDS rounds, with their longer penetrators made of depleted uranium, are specifically designed to pierce through the sophisticated armor systems and explosive reactive armor (ERA) employed by these modern Russian tanks, ensuring that Ukrainian forces can effectively counter these formidable adversaries.

The initiative to upgrade the Challenger 2 tanks underscores the resourcefulness and resilience of Ukrainian forces in the face of adversity. By adapting their equipment to meet the specific demands of their battlefield environment, Ukraine demonstrates a strategic approach to warfare, leveraging the advanced technology and support provided by its allies.

These enhancements to the Challenger 2 not only boost the tank's defensive and offensive capabilities but also reflect the deepening cooperation between Ukraine and the United Kingdom. As the conflict continues, the upgraded Challenger 2 tanks are poised to play a pivotal role in Ukraine's efforts to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The experience gained by Ukrainian soldiers in upgrading the protection of the Challenger 2 tanks not only serves as an immediate tactical advantage on the battlefield but also offers invaluable insights into the future development of tank protection technologies. Their hands-on modifications, tailored to counteract specific threats encountered in their engagements with Russian forces, provide a unique case study in adapting and enhancing existing armored vehicles to meet new challenges.

This practical knowledge could significantly influence the design and defensive strategies of modern tanks, integrating lessons learned from the Ukrainian battlefield into the next generation of armored warfare technology. As military engineers and designers look to the future, the ingenuity and adaptability demonstrated by the Ukrainian forces could pave the way for more resilient and versatile armored vehicles, ensuring they remain effective against evolving threats.

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The machine gun mounted on the loader hatch is now protected with an armor shield at the front. (Picture source video footage The Sun)

Defense News March 2024

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