Military

British Army to roll out upgraded Main Battle Tank in 2027

British Army to roll out upgra...
The Challenger 3 is an upgrade of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
The Challenger 3 is an upgrade of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
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The Challenger 3 is an upgrade of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
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The Challenger 3 is an upgrade of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
Challenger 3 is expected to enter service in 2027
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Challenger 3 is expected to enter service in 2027
The Challenger 3 will be produced in Telford
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The Challenger 3 will be produced in Telford
The Challenger 3 will use digitized systems
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The Challenger 3 will use digitized systems
The Challeneger 3 will have a new smooth-bore gun
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The Challeneger 3 will have a new smooth-bore gun
THe Challenger 3 will boast an improved targeting system
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THe Challenger 3 will boast an improved targeting system
The Challenger 3 will have a new armored turret
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The Challenger 3 will have a new armored turret
The upgrade contract is worth £800 million
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The upgrade contract is worth £800 million
The business end of the Challenger 3 tank
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The business end of the Challenger 3 tank
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Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) has won an £800-million (US$1.1-billion) contract from the Ministry of Defence to upgrade 148 of the British Army's Cold War era Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks to Challenger 3 specifications. Work will begin this year and the upgraded tanks are expected to enter service in 2027.

Originally developed in 1986 to replace the Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank, the Challenger 2 entered service in 1993 and saw service during the 2003 Iraq invasion by Coalition forces. Since then, the British Army has been faced with an increasingly urgent question about the future of armored regiments. Will they need to be replaced with new heavy tanks to face near-peer threats like Russia or China, or will they need to be swapped for lighter, more maneuverable, autonomous vehicles in the face of emerging threats?

Because of the enormous expense of producing a replacement rank, the British government has opted, in the near term, for a life extension program to keep the present vehicles in service through the 2030s. This will involve not only overhauling them, but also significant upgrades to produce a new class of tank, the Challenger 3.

The Challenger 3 will use digitized systems
The Challenger 3 will use digitized systems

The upgraded vehicle will be network-enabled with advanced countermeasures to improve survivability, and it will be armed with the latest 120-mm High Pressure L55A1 smooth-bore main gun, which will fire kinetic energy anti-tank rounds as well as programmable multipurpose shells. This gun will be housed in a new digitized turret providing better crew protection, and new long-range commander and gunner primary sights for better automatic target detection and acquisition for making a hit on the first shot.

"What a moment for RBSL, for our Armed Forces, and for UK prosperity," says John Abunassar, RBSL Board Chairman. "We are delighted to make this announcement and solidify the return of armored vehicle engineering to the UK. This announcement comes after years of hard work and collaboration with our customer, especially in the recent extraordinary circumstances brought about by COVID-19.

"The British Army will receive a world-class capability. RBSL, Vickers Defence Systems at the time, handed over the first Challenger 2s to the British Army over 25 years ago, and it is a great deal of pride for our engineers to take this next step together too."

Source: Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land

View gallery - 9 images
5 comments
5 comments
Eddy
With the US and allies getting out of contact wars like Afganistan one wonders who these expensive things are going to fire at. Nobody wants to start another war involving tanks even with genocide and mad dictators active around the world that we all choose to ignore. The trend now seems to be warfare from a great height and distance, drones, rockets etc. and will be no use against China or Russia. Beach landings and invasions are over I reckon.
riczero-b
$6.5 million per unit? Why not upgrade half and spend the rest on new Merkavas, high spec, similar gun, $6M each?
RJB
Agreed, Eddy - Aircraft carriers, tanks and other cold war toys are too vulnerable to (relatively) low-cost and highly effective missiles.
The admirals and generals are dinosaursstill fighting battles in the past.
Ask - why is the USA is spending huge sums on autonomous battlefield and air superiority weapons.
Ted
If you want a glimpse into what future warfare may look like watch Star Trek original series episode "A Taste of Armageddon". The writers got it pretty close to what we are experiencing today and extrapolate into future warfare - Sterile and faceless. Not bad considering it aired in 1967.
Nelson Hyde Chick
It is so encouraging to know we are diligently working on new ways to kill one another.