BAE Systems has given further details on the capabilities of its upgraded Challenger 2 main battle tanks as part of Medusa project.

“Members of Army HQ, DE&S and the MOD joined other agencies and companies for static and dynamic demonstrations of the system, which included simulated laser and missile attack,” said a BAE bulletin.

“The demonstration day was the latest stage in our work to help Dstl understand the potential benefits and challenges associated with using AIPS to improve protection and survivability of UK armoured vehicles.”

According to Defence Blog here, the Technical Assessment Programme (TAP) by UK Defence Science and Technology Laborartory (Dstl), designated Project ‘Medusa’, is to evaluate soft-kill active protection system solutions based on the Hensolt Multifunctional Self-Protection System (MUSS): a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL) system that integrates missile and laser warning sensors with a directional electro-optical jammer.

“The development of an effective Active Protection System, as part of Project Medusa, would provide a hugely significant step change in the survivability of UK tanks fleet.”

The project is to develop an understanding of how a high-maturity system can be integrated into an existing UK vehicle fleet – in this case the Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBT) – and its affect on the platform and the crew.

61 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think the west will ever be in mass tank battles again, so it’s not to concerning that we only have a couple hundred odd tanks. But I hope we will atleast have one of the best tanks once upgraded. But I also hope we have some armoured vehicles with Anti-tank missiles mounted on just in case, kind of like the Stormer vehicle with starstreak mounted on it. If not i supose there’s plenty hand held anti tank missiles that infintary can carry in their Warriors ect.

    • You’re probably right about mass tank battles, they are just getting to expensive to buy and western militaries work on the assumption to having air control to counter the other sides tanks. I guess it comes down to who you fight

      • How many British soldiers have dies because armchair generals assumed that the next war would have been fought in a certain way? Yes, the west has the world’s strongest air powers but that can never be guaranteed nor can their ability to deliver, not with China’s rapidly expanding capabilities and Russians massive air defense capability.

        If that air power isn’t there then assumptions are going to see people killed in sub standard equipment.

        • Zero Lewis. Armchair generals don’t command or make force posture decisions. They are non military people.

          • The MBT is not dead nor anywhere close to being obsolete. Any survivability upgrades should be fitted as the CH2 fleet is small enough to improve as many hulls as possible. I’m a bit confused, is ‘Medusa’ an additional programme to the LEP proposals? The Rheinmetall proposal suggests an all-new turret will be the best way forward however, I don’t believe that version has any ‘active’ protection? The BAE ‘Black Knight’ certainly majored on such systems, so where is LEP heading??

    • The current battlefield is progressing more towards soft skinned anti-armour vehicles that are cheap and disposable, kind of like a median between Infantry Fighting Vehicles and armoured Tank Destroyers.

      • I like to keep an eye on defence matters and I am not really seeing an increase in soft skinned vehicles. Sure they exist but IFVs both wheeled and tracked seem to be getting larger and more heavily armoured. Soft skinned vehicles cannot really survive against even old artillery systems like GRAD that every possible future enemy seems to own. All vehicles in or potentially near a combat zone need protection. The MRVP program shows that the powers that be believe this.

    • The Russians are likely to deploy about 4 T14’s and the 120mm riffled gun with HESH/CHARM 3 is probably the most effective weapon on the planet for cutting through T72 to T90 generation tanks. Far more important to have the best Armour which Challenger 2 already has and to update the sensors and active protection as BAE proposes.

      RM proposal is nice but too expensive. Better to build a new tank than to stick an expensive new turret on just to get 120mm smooth bore. If we are going new turret/tank we need 130mm weapon.

  2. I am grateful for this Concise Technology Review (CTR). I hope we can continue to develop this High Maturity System (HMS) and integrate it into out Existing UK Vehicle Fleet (EUKVF). Meantime, I Continue to Monitor Ongoing Reports (CMOR).

  3. The problem here is we keep looking towards Rheinmetall for technologies that are within our R&D and production capabilities.

    Are we not capable of developing our own smooth-bore automated turret?

    Does Chobham not have the ability to advance its (Dorchester) already world-leading armour to accommodate active protection and jamming?

    Can’t BAE write/develop the lines of programming to bring an electronics package together?

    Am I naive to ask such questions?

    • “Are we not capable of developing our own smooth-bore automated turret?”
      Not without huge expenditure, the industry was lost, haven’t made a tank turret in decades.

      “Does Chobham not have the ability to advance its (Dorchester) already world-leading armour to accommodate active protection and jamming?”
      Dorchester hasn’t been world leading in a long time.

      “Can’t BAE write/develop the lines of programming to bring an electronics package together?”
      Probably yes.

      • by my Reckoning, A 155mm diameter Auger, attached to a long Shaft, attached to a Lathe, Spinning at @ 100 RPM, with an Oil Injection system, might just give us a Smooth Bore but I might be wrong.

        Is It so far out of our Capability or am I being a bit Simple ?

          • Totally agree, I’ve also said it before, rifling in guns improves accuracy, why on Earth wouldn’t we want our tanks to have rifled guns?

          • It improved accuracy back in the days of full size rounds, and increases the effectiveness of HESH. These days, with sub-caliber projectiles like APFSDS rounds it reduces velocity (gasses can get past the projectile through the rifling grooves) and the projectiles can spin themselves, so there’s no real benefit. Also means we can’t use the same rounds that the rest of NATO uses, due to them being 1-piece and ours being 2-piece.

            Personal opinion – take the current hulls, put in a new power pack and transmission, maybe new armour, and drop a new turret with blow-out panels and a 130mm smoothbore on.

  4. Ground strength and capability is of vital importance considering given, tech, amour and protection to troops and its operators.

    Mentioned this before about qaunity vs quality.

    The British armed forces in my opinion cannot afford any losses to its assets across its services, in such event would cripple the economy and level us in an extremely vulnerable state.

    I’m in favour of increasing the armed forces and having a domestic and expeditionary force..

    Strenght in numbers imo, our numbers of tanks is frighteningly low as too apache numbers.

  5. As with everything, tanks will become automated/ autonomous. The replacement of crew with Tech will radically change their design. Technology leaps forward, there was an anti tank robot article on here a few days ago, looked like Johnny 5.

    Within our lifetimes humans will be replaced with machines that can think and do more, faster and better, maybe the brainiacs can come up with one to do the job on Binmen and some rubbish will actually make it from the bin into the lorry instead of all over the road. Or replace the current denizens of the house of commons/lords with intelligent,well rounded, non self centred sandwich toasters.

    Then one day when they become self aware its Arnie time and we’re all fooked.

    We won’t be back.

    Not sure that’s not bad thing anyway.

    • Lol I wouldn’t go that far.

      But DARPA and DSTL are certainly looking into that sort of thing.

      Even BT back in the 90s had it’s Soulcatcher programme at Martlesham, and that makes me feel old.

      The white world is far behind the black world.

    • It’s ironic I feel, but opposite to popular precictions over the decades robots and computerisation will replace the more complex high value jobs far more quickly and completely than cleaners or bin men. Humans are simply cheaper in such scenarios than using expensive mechanoids to do low profit value but often situationally unpredictable jobs that would need very complex programming in areas the human brain excels in (ie decisions on the hoof) but computers struggle to grapple with.

  6. Why is the Miltary spending so much time and effort going down the soft kill protection system than a hard kill one The last I looked a SK will not defend against an RPG. Seeing as the RPG 29 can penetrate a Chally 2 that is a huge problem. A Hard Kill system protects agaisnt both

    • Do we know for certain the rog29 can penetrate the Challenger 2 armour?
      I remember reading about a challenger 2 being hit by 17+ RPG rounds and still coming back to base, overnight repair then back our on patrol again

      • An RPG-29 did penetrate the lower glacis plate of a Challenger 2 in al-Amarah, in southern Iraq. The tank at the time was fitted with additional explosive reactive armour (ERA). The RPG-29 uses a tandem HEAT warhead and was able to activate the ERA then penetrate the metal behind. The driver was injured and lost a foot, two other crew were injured in the attack, however the driver was still able to drive out of contact. The tank was repaired and back in action later that day. The outcome of this incident was to replace the ERA on the lower glacis with a Dorchester block of armour. Another crew from a Chally were injured when a massive bomb (IED) went off under the tank and the injuries may be attributable to the 80’s design of the tank (non-suspended seats etc).
        The incident with the Chally taking over 17 hits was a mixture of RPG-7s and two Milans. The tank took so much small arms fire that the majority of the optics were damaged and the crew were effectively blind, stuck inside the hull, you can imagine the noise! Again the tank was towed back for repair and was again in action the following day.
        This not only demonstrates the protection the tank affords the crew, but also the ability of the tank to take damage and be returned to service. I don’t think an Ajax or a Boxer would be able to be repaired that quickly. However, if the armour is not constantly being developed it will quickly be overtaken by the missile it is designed to defeat.

      • Do we know for certain the rog29 can penetrate the Challenger 2 armour?

        MoD kept failure of best tank quiet
        One of the British Army’s Challenger 2 tanks was pierced by an Iraqi insurgent missile more than eight months earlier than the Government has previously admitted.he Ministry of Defence had claimed that an attack last month that breached a tank’s armour was the first of its kind in four years of war in Iraq. But another Challenger 2 was pierced by a powerful rocket-propelled grenade in August last year during an attack that blew off part of a soldier’s foot and injured several others.

        The injured soldier’s family has accused the Government of a cover-up and demanded to know why soldiers manning Challenger 2 tanks had not been warned of the failings with the tank’s armour. Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said he would challenge the government on why the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had apparently misled the public over the timing of the first incident in which the hugely robust defences of the Challenger had been breached.He said: “Obviously, no armour is indestructible and there is no doubt that the insurgents have increasingly sophisticated technology but it is important in maintaining public confidence that the MoD and the Government tell the truth to the -British public.”

        The Challenger 2 is reputed to be one of the most sophisticated tanks in the world and those used in Iraq by the British Army are built with Dorchester armour, the composition of which is top secret. The tank is also fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA) at its front that should deflect any weapon fired at its hull.

        The MoD has finally confirmed that the tank’s armour was breached last August and has said that an investigation was conducted to discover why the ERA appears to have failed. However, the department refused to comment on its findings, citing security reasons.

        In the August attack, which occurred during an operation to arrest a leading insurgent in the town of al-Amarah, in southern Iraq, the Challenger was damaged when a Russian-made rocket-propelled grenade, known as an RPG-29, defeated the ERA and penetrated the driver’s cabin.The RPG-29 is a much more powerful weapon than the common type regularly used by insurgents to attack British troops. It is specifically designed to penetrate tank armour, although this is the first occasion on which it has managed to damage a Challenger.

        During the attack Trooper Sean Chance, a 20-year-old serving with the Queen’s Royal Hussars, lost half of his left foot; two other crew members were injured.

        The unit’s commander described the moment the tank was hit by the missile in a letter he wrote to the wounded soldier in March. The officer wrote: “I recall seeing it [the RPG-29 being fired] and thinking, ‘Oh Christ, that’s bad.’

        “As it slammed into the hull, I was picked up by the shock wave of the blast and thrown against the back wall of the turret. The explosion singed my eyebrows and burnt my face slightly. The tank was full of acrid smoke and fumes. I became aware of you screaming, ‘I’m hit, I’m hit. My foot’s off.’

        “Daz [another crew member] and I looked at each other in slight disbelief – after all, what could possibly breach a CR2’s [Challenger’s] armour?”
        Tpr Chance’s mother Kay, 49, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, said her son had been told that the Challenger was the best in the world and essentially impenetrable to any weapons the insurgents possessed. She said: “Sean often told me he felt totally safe because he was in the best tank in the world. But we now know that is not the case. The Government has covered it up.”If I was the mother of the poor soldier who lost his legs last month I would be horrified to think that an earlier attack like this had happened before but none of the soldiers were told about it.” His brother Luke said that Tpr Chance had been “abandoned” by the Army following his injury. He said: “Sean has been forgotten about. He hasn’t received his Iraq medal. He’s been told he is going to be medically discharged because of his injury but no one has told him when and what sort of pension he might get. It’s a disgrace.” A spokesman for the MoD said: “We have never claimed that the Challenger 2 is impenetrable. There is no question of a cover-up. Any suggestion that this was the first successful attack against a Challenger 2 tank was given in good faith based on the information available at the time. “We would like to reassure the family that lessons were learnt from the incident last August and measures were taken to enhance the protection of our personnel.” On April 6, a Challenger was damaged by a roadside bomb in Basra. In that attack a soldier lost both his legs. Details of the incident were not made public until April 23, when the MoD claimed: “This was the first successful attack on a Challenger 2. It’s the first bomb to have damaged it.”

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1551418/MoD-kept-failure-of-best-tank-quiet.html

  7. As long as it becomes a real thing not a progamme beset with technical issues and FFBNW. If not we should just buy Leopard and have done.

    i get lost amongst all there programmes and organisational changes. Is it really beyond us to have 4 brigades of armoured vehicles (1 x MBT, 3 x inf bats, and a bat of SPG)? Where are we know with Warrior?

    It’s a mess. And the generals can’t put all the blame on the politicos.

    • 2 x MBT, 4 x Warrior, 4 x Boxer, 4 x Ajax, 2 x SPG, 2 x other gun is end state for the 4 Brigades Steve.

      • Thanks.

        Is that in total or per brigade? Or is that everything? In Gulf War 1 we struggled to field two brigades ( 1 x CR and 2 x Warrior, and the the other 2xCR and 1 X Warrior).

        As one has said a number of times now I prefer the old 3 Div mechanised brigade orbat of 1 x Mbt, 1 x armoured inf, and 2 x mechanised / motorised / wheel battalions. Plus tubes and camp followers.

        And as I have said the Warrior programme is far too ambitious. Dump the turret. Convert them to tracked APC’s. Go with Ajax for the IFV, We have too many platforms.

        • That’s yer lot guv!

          Wish that was per Brigade. The 14 are the total, spread amongst 4 Brigades. 14 being Infantry Battalions and RAC Regiments.

          2 Armoured.

          Each with 1 x MBT, 2 x Warrior, 1 x SPG. Plus Regiments from the RS, RE, REME, RAMC, RLC, and RMP Coy.

          2 Strike

          Each with 2 x Ajax, 2 x MIV ( Boxer ? ) 1 x RA

          Plus Regiments from the RS, RE, REME, RAMC, RLC, and RMP Coy.

          Already this exposes the hidden cut. The previous 3 Armoured Brigades fielded –

          3 x MBT, 6 x Warrior, 3 x HPM Mastiff, 3 x Scimitar/CVRT. 15 formations.

          The new set up fields 14. In one Brigade more!
          Add to that the several other cuts to supporting formations probably never noticed by most in A2020 Refine.

          And Fallon stood up in Parliament and described it as a expansion in capability.
          In fact the Armoured Brigades are hobbled by the removal of their organic armoured recc regiments.

          And the new Ajax are forming 2 Regiments of “medium armour” as part of the four regiments of RAC in the Strike Brigades. Pretending to be tanks. There was a up gunned version of Ajax too once.

          The Strike Brigades infantry are on wheels and their main firepower are on tracks.

          The Strike Brigade only has Light Gun, until a rumoured Self Propelled gun is bought for 3 and 4 RHA.

          Yes I remember the 3 Division ORBAT. Even as Mech Brigades each had 1 MBT 1 Warrior 2 Saxon. Plus SPG.

          General Carter’s plan apparently. Now rewarded as CDS.

          • I fully support the Strike Brigade concept. However, it should only be one part of a whole. In that I mean, it should coexist alongside the Heavy Brigade and not replace it. Also if we are going down the strike brigade route then we must fully adopt it and not go about it half arsed! For example the Boxer is a modular concept vehicle. So along with the battlefield taxis, will there be a command vehicle, ambulance, ammunition and supply vehicle, recovery, air defence, gun or missile artillery, a mortar carrier, air defence, battlefield surveillance, signals vehicle, anti-tank missile carrier (and not just dismounts) and a fire support vehicle with at least a 105mm gun?

            I thought the concept of the strike brigade was to go to the World’s trouble spots via either self drive or by air transport and intervene if necessary. The brigade has to have enough punch to either stop or deny the enemy. How is that possible if the concept is not fully supported, without the full plethora of support vehicles, whilst relying on legacy vehicles not designed for this type of warfare i.e. warrior, ajax etc?

            There must be a fully supported (wheeled) strike brigade that incorporates the required wheeled vehicles that can be airlifted by C17 and A400M. But this must be done in concert with a fully supported heavy brigade. As has been discussed before the heavy brigade has two main roles to hold ground or take ground, so must have the tools to do that with i.e. a heavy tank that can deal and take punishment. The strike brigade should be thought of as the jab and the heavy brigade as the uppercut. No different to light cavalry and heavy, even the muppets in Whitehall should understand that.

          • DaveyB

            Good post, I agree.

            I have read similar, that perhaps the Strike Brigade operates in tandem with one or two armoured brigades, in effect as the divisional reconnaissance element.

            The intervention aspect is how it seemed when David Cameron announced the concept in 2015 SDSR, selling them as self supporting formations able to deploy vast distances chasing terrorists. Maybe the French example in Africa has influenced this?

            I do not know the Boxer variants that are being considered.

            But in their current state as you say these brigades are completely half arsed lacking in firepower, and the 3 decent brigades we have left have been reduced to 2.

  8. So they are putting the Multifunctional Self-Protection System (MUSS) on a Challenger,
    BIG WOW….Hardly a game changer is it.
    Its a little box that tell the tank what it should do.. blow smoke, play some music. try and jam the missile and redirect it.
    Surely they have been making more progress that this….

    The project, just like others, all seem very slow

  9. We don’t have enough money .
    All 3 services are below critical mass.
    So any updates or new equipment costs more because we don’t order enough .
    BAe told the MoD that if they upped the build rate on the type 26 they could have 10 for the 8 billion but the treasury said no because they don’t want to spend the money earlier .
    Little known fact for a extra 1.5 billion we could have had 3 carriers but again the build was stretched for political reasons.

    The treasury has a lot to answer for.

    • I think CASD being brought into core by the Treasury is the killer.

      34 Billion in the 10 year equipment plan on Submarines. Most of that on Successor no doubt.

      If Gav can get that removed that’s him deified in my book.

      • Trying to hide military expenditure like the Chinese do, will cause other economic problems, just like China has massive debts, a ticking time bomb!
        Nor does it Not solve the underlying problem of the UK having chosen an outrageously expensive CASD system. An alternative deterrent would make more common sense, like ‘Astute VLS’.

        • Problem with an alternative deterrent is the cost to develop it. Trident has already been paid for and the US will cover a fair amount (the majority) of the cost of any future development. How much would a completely new system – submarines, warheads, and the missile itself cost?

        • Meiron- it is not a deterrent if it can be defeated or shot down. Currently there is no defensive missile system in the world that can defeat a trident ballistic missile with multiple re-entry vehicles travelling at + mach 8.
          An astute class with VLS fitting what? tomahawk, storm shadow (navalised version)- all of which can and would be intercepted if targeting a high-value defended target.
          Happy to debate but any CASD has to have ballistic missiles otherwise zero point deploying them other than annoyance factor.

  10. Tory asshole politicians have ran our army into the ground,the Russian and Chinese armies are on the rise again,build a new mark 3challenger ,if the lessons are not learned God help us !!!!!

    • Tory or Labour it makes no difference.

      I remember the dark days 1998 to 2010 and what happened after the “New Chapter” in 2004.

      The only reason the army didn’t get the chop then was Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Both the RN, RAF and wider MoD programmes were badly cut by that government.

      • Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of votes in defence so money is spent bribing the electorate in nice little giveaways but they chop defence because it’s a soft target. I think Williamson is doing his best to stop the rot.

    • Got to agree David- a challenger 3 using all our expert materials science to develop a tank with the very best active and passive defensive system, best gun/ armour combination if exactly what the UK needs- no German replacement a BAe built challenger 3 is precisely what the army needs. Although I think the challenger 2 with these upgrades is still going to spank the famed Russian Aramata T14 with ease- better materials science- I fail to believe that Russia can develop an armour that will withstand a APFSDS round with tungsten or DU penetrator fired by a Chally 2 from 3+ miles away on a tank that weighs less than a Chally 2 and has all sorts of electrical gizmos on it. When was the last time anyone bought a Russian electrical appliance or high-end piece of technology?…. precisely they are not known for their expertise in the field of technology and yet the T14 is lauded as having amazing active and passive defences, an auto-loader and crewless turret etc etc. Just hyperbole- the first time they go into combat they will utterly fail and be a liability.
      Besides the Russians cannot afford to build enough of them. Hence Russian army is reliant on T80 and T72 series tanks

    • john martin, can you tell us how you know this ?

      Personally I reckon He’s a Breath of fresh air in a World of Political Guff. A Chap with Balls and a sense of Direction at odds with the Usual Free Loading Elite Money grabbing London Focused Fuckwits who have run Rough Shod over this once Proud Country for so long.

      Bring on Brexit, Bring on a new bloody Order.

      Bring back Common sense and good old British Values.

      There, That should bring out the Moaners !!!!

  11. That’s all we have, god I remember when we fielded four armoured divs and a heavy infantry div in Germany. Then when BAOR was restructured (cut) to three armoured divs and a infantry field force we were trying to figure out how to stop the Russian juggernaut.
    Now we have flexible battlegroups, em has the government forgotten that when tanks are used in smaller numbers mixed in with infantry they get picked of by tank only units such as what Germany did to the British Army in 1939-40 or what the Russians work at.
    Numbers need to be brought back up to at least three heavy divisions and three armoured battlegroups as a front line strength, plus a rapid response div made up of light infantry and paras, jungle stuff with the Gurkha’s and RM’s over the beach and raiding RM’s.
    Two of the Armoured Divs should be based back in Europe with the third in the UK for rapid deployment to support the two front line divs. The Battle groups deplorable worldwide.
    It means bringing the army back up to 120,000 men which for a nation with a population of 66 million should be doable. If only the government would do something about the financing of the Mod.
    Here is a question that I would like answered, what would the MoD as in the serving personnel, senior officers prefer; to have a nuclear deterrent or the money that the deterrent costs invested into a larger more capable conventional armed forces.
    Personally if we want the deterrent I think the money should be from a different budget whilst keeping the budget for the MoD the same or slightly increasing it to inflation plus 2%.
    The other question that I have is why can France on a smaller budget have larger military with much of its weapons and technology developed in house.

    • I can Not see any other budget you put the deterrent in?
      To put the deterrent in another budget would be similar to what the former Soviet Union did to hide military expenditure, which resulted in real military expenditures exceeding 15% of GDP. This hidden military expenditure coused massive structural distortion of the Soviet economy.

      But the UK government should make defence expenditure clear, by pointing out what is front line defence expenditure, and background expenditure, like pensions and research. In other words, redefine what defence expenditures meets the frontline need of 2%
      GNP.

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