The British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank programme continues its attempts to modernise and retrofit existing vehicles.
Forecast International is a major provider of ‘Market Intelligence and Consulting in the areas of aerospace, defence, power systems and military electronics’. They recently discussed the Challenger 2 upgrape programme.
“On October 19, 2010, the U.K.’s Conservative-led coalition government unveiled its Strategic Defence and Security Review, which mandated reducing the British Army’s active Challenger 2 main battle tank fleet by 40 percent.
The British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps no longer has any deployed Challenger tanks. Furthermore, the RAC has had to cut funding for Challenger activity (including participation in large scale exercises), Challenger upgrade efforts, and maintenance/logistics support.”
While the 2015 SDSR promised that the size of British the Army would be retained, the service was reconfigured as two armored infantry brigades and two new rapid reaction strike brigades. The SDSR offered no specific relief to the funding shortfalls imposed on the Challenger program by the 2010 SDSR, however.
According to Forecast International:
“In October 2012, the MoD launched a concept phase to determine the scope of a Challenger 2 Life Extension Program. The intent of the LEP is to upgrade the 227 remaining active Challenger 2 tanks, at a projected cost of GBP500 million ($802 million). The primary focus of the LEP is reportedly to address “obsolescence issues” concerning the Challenger 2’s fire control system and electronic architecture in order to keep the remaining active Challenger 2s in service through 2035.”
Like the FV4034 Challenger 1 during Operation Desert Storm, the Challenger 2 earned an enviable combat record during Operation Telic.
Indeed, the Forecast International Weapons Group regards the Challenger 2 as “one of the best combat-proven main battle tanks available today, after the M1A2 Abrams SEP and the Merkava Mk IV. With the desired retrofit of the NATO standard 120mm Rh 120/55 smoothbore main armament, the Challenger 2 will equal the M1A2 Abrams SEP by any measure”.