BAE systems say that Black Night comprises cutting-edge technologies and capabilities, which are being offered to the Ministry of Defence as part of the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme.
Simon Jackson, Campaign leader for Team Challenger 2 at BAE Systems said:
“The UK is home to some of the world’s finest engineering companies, who have pushed the boundaries of combat vehicle design with Black Night.
We are providing the bulk of this upgrade from home soil, however, we have chosen the best defence companies from around the world to collaborate with also, including names from Canada, France and Germany who bring unique skills and proven technology.
The British Army has our commitment that we will deliver the most capable upgrade possible, and the best value for money.”
The features touted by BAE include:
  • Active Protection System – Systems allow the tank to detect incoming anti-tank missiles or armour penetrating rounds and automatically launches a counter-explosive to neutralise the threat.
  • Laser Warning System – When targeted by enemy weapon systems, the tank can identify the source of the threat then automatically slew the gun to point at that source, making it quicker for the crew to counter-fire.
  • Regenerative braking – The tank has been made more energy efficient by using less energy-hungry kit and installing regenerative braking in the turret, which generates power when the gun slows down into position.
  • Thermal Imaging Technology – Front and rear infrared cameras (similar to those used in television programmes such as Planet Earth II) provide extremely sharp night imagery, helping troops identify potential threats and move undetected in hostile situations, while also shaving valuable seconds off reaction times.
  • Accelerated fightability – New equipment controlling tank’s weaponry is faster, meaning the crew can identify an enemy, target and engage more quickly.

The Challenger 2 tank, built by BAE Systems in the 1990s, served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. BAE Systems is now leading the strategic partnership Team Challenger 2 bid to keep the tank battle-ready for the next twenty years, as part of the Ministry of Defence’s decision to extend the tank’s life until 2035.

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Tank gets hit*

Black Knight: Tis but a scratch!

Enemy tank: A scratch? You’re engines gone!

Black Knight: No it isn’t

Enemy tank: Points at smoking a sputtering engine* What’s that then?

Black Knight: I’ve had worse.

Enemy tank: You liar!

Black Knight : Come and fight me, you pansies!


I wish I could vote you up for the Monty Python Reference…

Daniele Mandelli

This is brilliant. Virtual up vote!


“Merely a flesh wound”! 😀



Merely old new ukdj. This tank has been out there for the last week! U-Tube have a number of vids (Janes 380) that give some good info on this proposal. The Rheinmetall version should be unveiled very soon, though some old impressions are to be found.

john martin

Nice colour wrong main armament should be smooth bore 120mm,and get rid of that stupid 7.62 at the operators hatch, killed enough good people.

Rob N

The only advantage of the smooth bore gun was to get less expensive amo – it was never about the rifled gun being no good. A rifled gun still holds the distance kill record for a tank in combat.

A 15000hp power plant and a minigun would be a good upgrade.

peter waite

There is now a locking pin with a sink plug chain which seems to last as well as chains on an army sink!

Rob N

The gun is fine – the move towards smouth bore was on amo cost grounds not on performance. A new gen of rifled amo should do the job.

However a minigun and a 1500hp powerplant would be a logical upgrade.

Nigel Collins

Let’s hope we can increase the overall numbers too sorry.

An edit function will help to minimise grammatical errors and make future posts look more professional rather than having to do it this way!


It’d be good if we could, but we don’t actually have the facilities to build any MBT anymore, let alone more Challenger 2’s (Not sure what they’re going to do once it’s retired, current rough plan is likely to be to buy Leopard 2A8(?))
Oh and unfortunately they don’t plan on upgrading the gun, the upgrades will definitely help (especially thermal sights, and the Active Protection System) but it’s not as significant as it could be.

Russell Cawthorn

BAE systems formally Vickers in Newcastle still has the factory to build this MBT as I guess do others around the country.

Paul Bestwick

I wish I could find the tweet that this quote comes from, but I have seen it written that there is concern within the Royal Armoured Corp regarding the range of the smoothbore gun as opposed to the current rifled one. As I understand it the smoothbore tops out at 2.5 to 3 kilometres. The rifled gun is supposed to be more.


No it has been dropped due to cost. The ammo storage would need to be redesigned to accommodate the different rounds and it most increasing the cost significantly.

I think the MOD has agreed to invest in developing more advanced ammunition while still using the rifled barrel so hopefully that will offset the loss of the L55.

I would still like to see the engine replaced though. The up armored version currently weighs 75 tonnes, so could certainly do with a power boosts with the MTU engine used in the Leopard.


I feel BAE is just teasing with the Trophy system, saying it is to show the options that could be available as part of the LEP, we seem to be a long way behind the curve on this technology as we should ideally be developing it ourselves rather than purchase it form someone else.


BBCS wrote:
“I feel BAE is just teasing with the Trophy system, saying it is to show the options that could be available as part of the LEP, we seem to be a long way behind the curve on this technology as we should ideally be developing it ourselves rather than purchase it form someone else.

They are actually offering the Iron fist APS system, rather than the Trophy. From what I can gather the former is a bolt on module, where the latter isn’t and requires space inside the vehicle.


Sorry your correct, I actually thought Iron Fist was just an updated version and name of the original Trophy system, but they are made by completely different Israeli companies that don’t seem to get along. Although offering different solutions to the same problem can only be a good thing long term, especially if Iron Fist is more modular.


Nice…now how about upgrading the powerpack and adding CROWS

John Clark

Consider that in modern times we have deployed Armoured battle groups to Iraqi (1990-2003), on both occasions we deployed 100 plus, 150 in 1990 and 120 in 2003. Today with only 250 in the active inventory, do we have the capability to deploy 100? I doubt it very much…. If we can only deploy 30-40, then you have to ask yourself if the force is so far below critical mass to be rendered ineffective as a main battle capability, is there any point keeping an MBT in the inventory at all now, never mind a small fortune in a mid… Read more »


I was thinking about this myself, in recent conflicts the majority of heavy armour is wiped out from the air before coalition forces even set foot on the ground. So would more flexible apc’s be all that is required to hold it, especially since the UK is so far from any likely conflict zones.
I can see why continental Europe requires heavy armour but I see less need for the UK especially considering the amount of support/money it requires to deploy.


I tend to agree but there has to be a route from the existing A to your envisioned B a single jump on the basis of theory as logical as it may be would be extremely risky. So perhaps this upgrade is the minimal requirement while potential alternatives are examined and introduced which is no short term transformation not to mention the cost and required infrastructure for such an alternative force. One has to stay at least semi invested in the status quo till alternatives are more proven especially I ally as they would likely involved combined ground and air… Read more »

Anthony D

Agree. Ground scanning radar is the end for mass armoured manoeuvre warfare. The best way to kill tanks is with air power, not other tanks. The logistical chain and deployability challenges are also huge handicaps. This is not a capability we should be investing in.


Armour will still be needed going forward. Air power is very effective and can change the course of a war but it can not take and hold land.


Missed a trick – should have called it ‘Black Prince’.

David Taylor

Um. I would have preferred ‘Green Knight’.


Am I missing something?

‘Black Prince’ was the planned upgrade to the Churchill tank (I guess more of an experimental design), which never happened – only a few prototypes were made.

Given recent decisions made to use names of historical resonance (such as Tempest) I just thought ‘Black Prince’ was a missed opportunity.

David Taylor

No. Black Prince is a perfectly acceptable name. 🙂

I like the name Green Knight for a couple reasons. Firstly a knight is armoured cavalry. We are seeing a return to ‘green’ vehicles now we have left the Sandbox. In Arthurian mythos the Green Knight challenges other knights and is seemingly invincible as he is able to take mortal blows yet continue on.


Ah, I see!

I would see that as acceptable. 🙂


Well, i’m surprised they didn’t call it the “Queen Elizabeth”. I’m not anti monarchy but i’m getting sick of the trend of creeping around the royal family whenever we name something.

Chris J

It is worth remembering that when RN ships are named something royal, they are usually named after a preceding ship, for example HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) is named after the 1st world war dreadnought battleship Queen Elizabeth which in turn was named after Queen Elizabeth 1. Not our current monarch as many people assume.

Likewise, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is named after the title not the individual currently holding that title.

David Steeper

Sorry to all you tankers out there guys but two words. Lipstick and Pig. On the front of every MBT at least in Europe should be the words ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’


I am very cautious with BAE’s approach compared to Rhinemetal’s. BAE are focusing on the first to see – first to kill solution, by improving the commander’s thermal imager and giving the driver better night viewing aids. They will upgrade the control interfaces and displays to mimic those provided with Ajax, with the theory that will lessen the training burden, they say this will also help with the ergonomics within the turret. When the Chally2E was offered to Greece was it not fitted with a more powerful engine for the trials, i.e. the MTU883 Europack engine? This engine as fitted… Read more »


With all the budget cuts maybe the TA will get upgraded versions of these:

Actually one of my favorites…



I love the Comet too, remember asking my father who served with them what he thought of either the Comet or Cromwell (can’t remember which it was some time ago) and he said they were rubbish but having read up on the former I suspect it was the latter he was referring to as the Comet finally looked like a creditable tank to me with that turret and gun after a series of missteps on a similar theme.


I’ve always had a place in my heart for the cruiser tanks and particularly their service in N. Africa. The follow on Centurions are still plugging away in various guises in several armies… Amazing. The Matilda’s were the infantry support tanks (Wonderful photo of them going into combat with a lone piper leading them with the Desert Rats somewhere out there) while the Valentines, Crusaders,and Honey’s were the fast movers of their day…



“When the Chally2E was offered to Greece was it not fitted with a more powerful engine for the trials, i.e. the MTU883 Europack engine? This engine as fitted to the Leopard significantly increased its performance.”

When they built the Challenger 2E it was found that the MTU883 powerpack is dimensionally smaller than the Perkins in the current Challenger 2. They felt that the additional room gained could be used for additional fuel capacity & hence a greater range. Seems like a win-win scenario that did not go anywhere.


Anything from Rheinmetall?


Once again we are dreaming. We have a small Army with limited resources. Get rid of the remaining MBT and change to to something faster smaller lighter, with advanced tank killing missiles. ( I think it is still NATO policy to nuke the Russian tanks as they roll into Germany, assuming the European continues to support NATO? Do we need our own MBT especially if you only have a few?)

Our government continues with MOD budget cuts we will end up with a few soldiers like Belgium or Holland.

Daniele Mandelli

We have more MBT than we have artillery.

Should we get rid of that too?

Tanks, like artillery, should uavectheir place.

Shouldn’t the name Black Knight be more appropriate than Black Night, despite its supa doopa might vision?


Without a cost estimate this is just meaningless.


Sorry PKCasimir but every estimate for the MOD is meaningless.


From what i read its modular, with this version having all the toys and whistles but the final ‘purchased’ version could have some or none of them.


The challange is being able to target a missile from ground level. Aircraft have a natural advantage over tanks as they are high up and so their radars can track targets from great distance, but then the reverse is true, a ground based radar can pick up a plane and target it. A ground based radar however has extremely limited sight against ground targets, and in real world situations probably not a lot better than mark one eye ball (hills, gullies etc get in the way), meaning a tank would have a chance of knocking out your light armour before… Read more »

John Clark

That’s the thing Steve, how many of the 225 we have are actually deployable? If we have dropped below the threshold for deploying 100 tanks as part of an Armoured Division, then it’s in danger of becoming irrelevant. Like I said, the only time we have deployed MBT’S operationally in the last 60 years in quantity was in both Gulf wars, both times 100 + tanks were deployed. If we can no longer do this, I would need convincing ( yet to hear a good augument for keeping a small force) that it’s a capability worth retaining, let alone spending… Read more »


There will be a point in the future where to over-come a tank’s APS you will need to carry out a swarm attack, much like a ship. Which is kind of funny when back in the day the tank was formed by the land ships committee. IMI’s Iron Fist has been shown to defeat a Hellfire doing a top attack on a M113 test vehicle. I cannot state what the angle was, as it didn’t look to be vertical but was definitely more than 45 degrees. The T14’s Afghanit system I don’t believe can do this, as the way it… Read more »

BV Buster

So let me give all you fine chaps my take on this tank. Firstly my credibility, CR2 is sort of my bag and without going into what I do, it is firsthand experience and not copied and pasted from some kids website. Let’s take a look at the current CR2. Mobility wise it’s not great, the engine isn’t too bad, the gearbox is what causes most of the problems, it dumps lots of power and reliability is an issue. The Hydrogas suspension is world leading, having worked on M1 and Leo I can safely say CR2 can cross rough terrain… Read more »


When BAE bought the ROF for peanuts, along with the small arms factories, they gained the large calibre foundries. Which included not only the Chally’s rifled gun but also the rights to the prototype smoothbore gun that had been developed on the back of the L11. I wonder why they never kept going with the development, when it was clear that NATO as a whole was going down the smoothbore route. It seems that either BAE didn’t see a market for the smoothbore gun or they couldn’t be bothered especially as Rhinemetal was now the preferred gun. I believe these… Read more »

David steeper

DaveyB BaE asset stripped their way through as much of the UK defence industry as they could get their paws on throughout the 80’s and 90’s.

Anthony Thrift

Excuse my ignorance on this subject but could the Chally3 fit and use an automatic loading system? and if the effect of going smoothbore would lead to a reduced complement of shells then what the point of having a tank that will need an armoured top up vehicle following immediately behind the tank, Right now out of all the MBT’s in the World which are in combat a lot of the time? The only one that comes to mind is the Israeli Merkava – so why not explore an upgrade with Israeli help, yes it does appear that RM may… Read more »

BV Buster

DaveyB: I think it was the timeframe that was the problem, correct me if I’m wrong but BAE took over in the late 80s meaning the L-30 was already developed and at the time it was a ground breaking gun. I believe the reason we didn’t go for an L-11 version of smoothbore was partly due to the large stocks of cold war ammunition and the assumption that the British Army will be operating a 2 platform tank fleet which needed commonality of ammunition. To change all tank guns to 2 piece smoothbore would be expensive and at the time… Read more »

John Clark

Agreed BV, it’s the route we need to take, just let the CH2 roll on for a few more years with minimal upgrades and phase out by 2025, replaced with Ajax and Boxer variants.

Air mobile forces, with sufficient air cover..


Why is everyone going on about the gun for the bae systems bid? I understand it is perceived as a weakness. But My understanding was the LEP was a separate project and there was/is a lethality improvement program to address this separately? There obviously will be a link between the two programs and the bidders have been encouraged to provide optional extras. It maybe that rheinmental go for a full turret replacement which obviously would make sense to have a new gun at the same time. The bae systems bid maybe quite modular and therefore could be transferred to a… Read more »

BV Buster

Simon: The life extension program was originally a cheap solution to replace the out dated systems on the vehicle, most of the fire control systems are of early 80s design and are no longer supported so it was a bid to keep the vehicle supportable until its OSD. That idea has changed somewhat over the last few years and now is worded as keeping the tank competitive out to 2035. So the Capability of the L-30, without going into numbers. We do know from the UK smoothbore project that the L-55 firing DM-53 had “significantly” better penetration then the current… Read more »


Thanks BV well if it is that bad, hopefully our short sighted politicians will get the cash out and the army will have the sense to invest in a new turret or even new tank rather than throwing money into something that appears obsolete. Hopefully black night is a stop gap. It looks more and more sensible that either used leopard tanks were procured and updated or new builds were built in the uk or just to build a Challenger 3 from scratch, from what you are saying the vehicle is ineffective now never mind 2035/2040! If we are serious… Read more »


Here’s an article that shows the US Army’s thinking with regard to future armored combat vehicles.

BV Buster

Simon: buying up a few leopards isn’t a bad idea, it will just be a pain in the ass for supply chains ect. I do believe we need to start taking high intensity warfare seriously again, our future armed forces could be built around 2 tank regiments, 2 recce regiments and 4 armoured Inf battalions, that’s your lot, 2 brigades worth the rest are light inf/cav that are not useful in a proper fight. Compare that to the 40 brigades that Russia operate on a smaller budget, it won’t even make a dent (I get the scales are extreme and… Read more »


Since when did infa-red become thermal imaging.