Last time I argued in the UK Defence Journal that Challenger 3 was not the ideal next tank for the UK, so I won’t revisit that discussion again.

But what I probably can be criticised for is saying the classic ‘something must be done’ without proposing any sort of solution. I hope to remedy that now and present one suggestion to fix Britain’s dire lack of main battle tanks (MBTs) relatively quickly.

I think we have to accept that the die is cast with regard to the CR3 order, but also agree that the numbers being procured are far too few. As I have said elsewhere, 148 tanks might last about two weeks in modern conventional warfare. After that there will be no replacements.


This article is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the UK Defence Journal. If you would like to submit your own article on this topic or any other, please see our submission guidelines.


The reason why numbers can’t be upped is simple; CR3 relies on CR2 refurbished hulls as the basis of the “new” tank, and there aren’t any more in a suitable state available for conversion. In fact, doubts have been expressed in some quarters whether there are sufficient even for the order for 148.

Others have suggested that a new production line for hulls could be set up, but the truth is that you might as well build a completely new vehicle if you want to go down that path. And at same time designing and procuring a new UK designed tank would take years (ten at least with a fair wind I would reckon) and we may not have the luxury of time given the state of the world and the threats from eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Against that background, there is an emerging consensus in military circles that between 400-500 tanks would be a more appropriate UK tank fleet, allowing establishment of six to eight tank regiments with a training fleet and spares as battle casualty replacements (BCRs). So what other source might the additional vehicles come from?

The best and quickest way to up British tank numbers is to buy off the shelf or adopt a readily available model from elsewhere. Most sensible military commentators would see the Leopard 2 as the obvious solution. It is combat proven, has been continually updated throughout its life, and is in service with over twenty countries round the world. As for quality, the export figures don’t lie.

Leopard 2A7 at Eurosatory.

In ideal circumstances, rather than buying (or leasing, always another option) direct from the German manufacturer KNDS, this could be achieved by setting up a Leopard 2 manufacturing facility in Britain, working in addition to and possibly in parallel with CR3 manufacture by RBSL at Telford. An order of say 150 units would make this economically viable for KNDS and also lead into manufacture of the future Leopard 3 and possibly the French-German collaborative Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) beyond that if it ever comes to pass.

There would also be export potential, thus helping Britain’s balance of payments ledger.

Where might such a manufacturing facility be established if this were to be considered feasible? Well, in line with the last government’s “levelling up” mantra and with CR3 being produced in England and the armoured cavalry vehicle Ajax being made by GDLS in Wales, it seems that Scotland should be the clear and obvious choice!

A new manufacturing location somewhere along the M8 motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh might fit the bill nicely. There are good transport links, access to world-class research facilities at both Glasow and Edinburgh universities, a skilled work force readily to hand, and a tradition of heavy engineering which, while it may not be what it once was, still exists.

Plus, there is a tank gunnery range relatively close by at Dundrennan in Kirkcudbrightshire, tank sight manufacturing expertise at Thales (formerly Barr & Stroud) in Glasgow, and Scotland’s famous cavalry regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards stationed at the former RAF base at Leuchars in Fife to provide expert end-user advice. All major plus points, don’t you think?

Such a solution could see winners all around. The Westminster government could major on membership of the UK bringing continuing benefits to Scotland to counteract the separatist movement. The Scottish government should, after the regulatory period of faux-rage liberal handwringing over “weapons of death being made on our doorstep”, jump at such an opportunity for inward investment, perhaps even offering to put in a rail spur to service the new factory.

Nobody would mind if they claimed ownership of the economic benefits of employment – perhaps many hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs – and stimulus it would bring to Scotland’s sluggish economy.

For the MoD, British army, and the Royal Armoured Corps, it could be the key to rapid expansion in the face of increased risks and threats at a time when nearly everyone is saying our armed forces need to grow rapidly. It would also bring, at long last, the UK into the “Leopard Club” with all the benefits of economy of scale and continuous upgrades that would bring, plus MBT compatibility with many nations in NATO who operate the German tank.

As for KNDS, the manufacturer of Leopard 2, it would give them a much-needed second production hub for their tank, enabling them to circumvent German government export controls. Would they consider it? Of course, they would; they offered to set up a factory in the UK when competing for the CR2 replacement programme and said they were keen to set up a UK R&D facility as well. I can’t see why they would have changed their minds.

Would KNDS set up in Scotland? Well, you’d have to ask them, but I can’t see why not. Scotland has the infrastructure, the workforce, and the skills to support such a venture. It would be, I suggest, a major coup for the Westminster and Scottish governments if it came to pass.

But enough from me for now. Over to you, Westminster government, Edinburgh government, MoD, and KNDS! Tell us why it can’t be done!

Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a defence analyst and former army officer. Sign up for his podcasts and newsletters at www.DefenceReview.uk

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Stuart Crawford was a regular officer in the Royal Tank Regiment for twenty years, retiring in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1999. Crawford attended both the British and US staff colleges and undertook a Defence Fellowship at Glasgow University. He now works as a political, defence and security consultant and is a regular commentator on military and defence topics in print, broadcast and online media.
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Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825644)
2 days ago

😂here he goes! down the Leopard path again.
reading back to anybody who has taken on Leopard production the trouble they have had with suppliers and sub contractors has far outweighed the advantage of building them.

Jim
Jim (@guest_825692)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

I’m starting to realise why the British army has had so many problems in the past with the pretty simple concept of buying armoured vehicles 😀

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825977)
1 day ago
Reply to  Jim

Absolutely nothing simple, these days, about UK’s purchase of armoured vehicles. It was fine when we had 5 seasoned domestic manufacturers.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_825757)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

That is not the problem. The problem is that the tank have only a direct fire capability. When indirect fire starts to get precise due to technology advances the tank as a weapons looses part of its importance. BA would be much wiser to invest in precision artillery/missiles/rockets/offfensive cheap drones and recon for it.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_825976)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Most of that it is already doing surely. Judging by what’s going on in Ukraine it appears Bradleys are being rather more effective than Western tanks. This certainly needs to be explored over the next year or two before committing to a one trick pony of a new separate tank facility that’s for sure that will need to be either expanded for other products or die down the line. Laughable to think we could keep 3 major land vehicle businesses going at the same time after years of combining numerous ones down to effectively one starved of orders till recently.… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825978)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

The tank is designed to be a mobile, protected, direct-fire weapon system. It exists to deliver shock action, to defeat enemy heavy and medium armour (and strongpoints) out to 4-5km at max, to support accompanying Infantry with heavy firepower.
The tank does not lose any of its importance because there happens to be artillery on the battlefield too delivering indirect fire – thay are doing a very different job against very different targets at a very different range.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826028)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

And even drone corrected artillery lacks the immediacy of “Gunner, target, HESH, 1,500m, left left, on. Firing!”

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826175)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

👏👍

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826053)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Of course it looses importance. if artillery and drones destroy lots of enemy tanks and other force behind the tank radius of fire action and short range ATGM destroy in tank fire action?.
What is the reason for an huge investment in such specialist vehicle?

It will not be a surprise to me that a column of tanks can be destroyed by long range missiles(think of Spike NLOS class 30km range) and guided artillery. Then what?

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826054)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Tanks to be recreated have to be capable of different tasks including fighting infantry, robots, drones even aerial ones. It cannot be only a vehicle to fight other tanks.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826195)
18 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Tanks cannot do everything. They focus on fighting other tanks and medium armour and defeating strongpoints. We have other equipment in the army to deal with other threats.

Ex_Service
Ex_Service (@guest_826090)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Correct application of tanks on the battlefield is still a valid strategy, as battles in the Ukraine demonstrate. Infantry would much prefer to have tanks on with them than against them in this respect. Quantity and quality matter in this context further demonstrating the failed logic of the ‘Peace Dividend’ cuts which hollowed out the everything military in the UK.

Tank losses demonstrate the utility of the MBT, not the opposite, noting every weapon system as a counter, it is irrelevant if this is an expensive ATGM or less expensive drone.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_826142)
23 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Then start if by not have a column if tanks – it isn’t a parade.

Mad Vlad’s parade of tanks in Ukraine was a text book ‘how-not-to’ and NATO aircraft would have destroyed the lot in a real war.

I suspect it had been deliberately funnelled to where it was to trap it so it could be picked off.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826177)
19 hours ago

Then start if by not have a column if tanks – it isn’t a parade.

It is that way that any vehicle force move when there is no ground mobility outside road network.
The only thing wrong is that the Russians had no air assets supporting the force to detect Ukrainians.

It is fantastic how many here don’t know what is vehicle mobility and the time lost when you go off road.
Europe is not Afrika Korps vs 8th Army.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_826184)
19 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

If you are going to move an armoured column there are various things you do like overwatch and controlling high ground and choke points.

They didn’t do those things and got trapped when the Ukrainians obligingly dropped a few bridges and then used fish in a barrel tactics with various weapons like NLAWs.

So it turned into a total mess. Like the rest of their invasion.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826193)
18 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Alex, you don’t seem to understand what different equipment does on the battlefield, I am sorry to say. In a previous post you bemoaned that tanks cannot do indirect fire – that is not their role. It is to bring large-calibre direct fire to bear on strong and high-value enemy targets such as heavy/medium armour and strongpoints. Artillery has, and has always had, a very different role to the tank. In this post, you talk of the possibility of lots of enemy tanks being destroyed by a range of counters (artillery, drones, etc). The tank was first fielded in 1916… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826206)
17 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I posted below . A 120mm gun-mortar AFV with guided rounds – with size that can have instead a 120mm Rh gun turret if that continues to be necessary A BMPT like variant should also be tested. This tracked chassis should be also the basis for the IFV. Preferably all turrets should be unmanned and 3 crew max. Drone(AI) variants of any version should be possible and a manned should be able to be transformed into unmanned. There should not be any investment into 130, 140mm gun that can only be used for direct fire. And for the army, drone… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_826221)
16 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Also worth noting that tanks *CAN* do indirect fire, they just aren’t very good at it because gun elevation is minmal and crews typically aren’t trained in it. But the Ukranian’s, especially during Artillery shortages earlier in the war, where using their T-64 in IDF roles.
As long as you have some training, and some method of correcting fire, you can pretty much use anything in Indirect Fire Roles (At one point the British Army even trained to use Rifles in the indirect fire role).

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826269)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Fair point. I had not intended to ‘go there’!
CR2 max gun elevation is +20 deg. Range at +20 deg can be substantial ie a theoretical 29.42km with HESH, provided the ground does not intervene! But throw-weight is of course way less than 155mm artillery…and the need to correct fire and specially train, as you say, are issues.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826331)
2 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I have witnessed an APDS round fired on the HESH scale on Hohne ranges, went a looooong way!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826356)
4 minutes ago
Reply to  Ian M

Good dit….and HESH rounds go a very long way too. I forget the exact distance.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826360)
7 seconds ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

👍😎

Dern
Dern (@guest_826239)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

(I find it hilarious that Alex’s suggestion for replacing a tank is…. a tank.)

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826249)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Since my criticism of tank is to that is only be able to do direct fire with precision, compared to increase of precision in indirect fires of other assets then obviously one solution is to make the tank able to do indirect fire with precision.
But due to low numbers that will be manufactured it can’t be a bespoke chassis and needs to be part of family and with less weight which means less armor and more defence systems like APS etc.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826250)
14 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Oh dear, Alex didn’t bother to read again. Too bad.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826277)
12 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Here is an idea. Is it not a bit limiting that artillery and mortars can only do indirect fire, so why not get them to do direct fire (with precision of course) as well? Just so we don’t waste too much money on something that is very specialist?

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826283)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Artillery can do direct fire. But there are obviously much more targets outside the range of tank gun especially in hilly and vegetation covered terrain.
There are already 120mm gun mortars. Polish RAK (soon for Ukraine too), Patria Nemo, Patria AMOS, Elbit Crossbow Unmanned Turreted for example some with guided rounds.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826335)
1 hour ago
Reply to  AlexS

It’s ‘horses for courses’. Tanks primarily deliver large calibre direct fire against armoured/strong targets in the contact battle againts enemy first echelon forces. Artillery delivers indirect fire with higher throw-weight mostly at the more distant targets.
Not sure why you want tanks to deviate from their primary role. We have precious few as it is – 56 per armoured brigade – they need to focus on primary role and on what they are optimised for, otherwise they and their accompanyng infantry will suffer.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826274)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

🙂

BFGBob
BFGBob (@guest_826070)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Challenger 3 has achieved distance target hits of 5km. Challenger 2 in Ukraine are not being used as mobile platforms in open battle but as distance direct fire assets. They are Hidden in tree lines and have been used quite successfully in that role. They’re being used in that manner because we can’t seem to manufacture quiet power packs. Same problems as experienced with Chieftans, could hear them miles away. Find a stealth power pack and lighter chassis and armour without losing any vehicle protection. Failing that up gun the Ajax 120mm light tanks. Same operating role as WW1 Whippets.… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826216)
16 hours ago
Reply to  BFGBob

Thanks Bob. I also read the article that UKR was using its tiny number of CR2s as ‘sniper tanks’ in the manner you describe. The reason that I understood was that the gun is mega-accurate and that they have limited spares and engineering support so don’t want to motor the Challys too much. The noisy powerpack point is surprising to hear. A BG in the advance with tanks and armoured/mech inf motoring at speed with supporting artillery fire going in is a effing noisy prospect. The power pack noise of 10 Challys would be just one part of the overall… Read more »

Last edited 16 hours ago by Graham Moore
Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_826129)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yes. Ukraine proves this. Some might say it would be a different case for N.A.T.O. engagements because of its extensive abilities not least in air cover; however, if tanks need extensive overhead protection to produce line of sight kinetic effects then one has to re-think the entire war fighting concept, not just vehicles.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826179)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

The AFV should be made to attack infantry and protect against drones. For example a 120 gun mortar with direct and indirect fire plus a 30mm coax gun.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826332)
2 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

A “30mm coax gun”? On a mortar? WTF?
Do you know what coaxial means?

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_825645)
2 days ago

With more modern production methods than when the challenger was originally built it would be “ relatively” easy to produce new hulls to be built up to CH3 standard. Which means we have commonality of logistics, training and interoperability. Rhine metal have said as much
If you really do not want to go down that route of a different tank and we need to procure hundreds more tanks . Then surely it would be a better option to procure several hundred used Abrams tanks ( plenty parked in the desert) and build them up to Abrams X

Dragonwight
Dragonwight (@guest_825649)
2 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Agreed, just build more hulls for the existing design.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider (@guest_825655)
2 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Hi Michael, One thing I would say about building new CR3 hulls it that there is a good argument for a more powerful engine. As I understand the Chally is somewhat sluggish on acceleration when compared with other NATO tanks. Chally has a 1200 bhp engine whereas the others are all in the 1500 bhp range. Fitting a new engine would likely require some changes to the hull, if only to take the extra torque, bigger gearbox, etc.. Such changes have a habit of snowballing. This is not to say it isn’t doable, it is. One suggestion in the above… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825660)
2 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

CR3 has got the CV12-9A engine capable of 1500 hp if required.
CR2 had the CV12-6A engine capable of 1200 hp.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_825979)
1 day ago
Reply to  Jacko

While it seems the engine ‘upgrade’ is still a little obscure the fact that performance claims for a heavier tank and extra electrical output is as ‘advertised’ for CH3 there is no doubt upgrades are taking place in the engine department.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825687)
2 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

In theory there are absolutely enough hulls to complete 148 CR3’s. There’s the 213 currently in service, and then another 70 odd that are parked outside Ashchurch (plus any under cover that can’t be seen). The question isn’t so much “Are there enough hulls” but “are there enough hulls to be converted at the price point the MoD is paying, while keeping a deployable CR2 force active?”

(Remember that it’s a rebuild, and the CR2 hulls are being stripped right back and completely refurbished too).

pete
pete (@guest_825720)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

When parked outside water builds up in hull unless they are taken to wash-down and drained frequently, this gets in final drives, engines and transmission. The crew compartment humidity builds up damaging sights and electrics and mold grows . One CRARRV at Bovington not covered up properly filled up above battery master switch in heavy rain in three weeks . Sad but many vehicles including EBR CR2’s suffered similar fate because the MOD does provide enough dry storage .

Dern
Dern (@guest_825727)
2 days ago
Reply to  pete

True, but: If the tank is being completely stripped down to the hull and rebuilt, then the state of the sights, electronics, etc isn’t so much of an issue. Structural rust however…

pete
pete (@guest_825950)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Only stupid people store tanks outside when extensive damage to them costs more than putting up a building !

Dern
Dern (@guest_825994)
1 day ago
Reply to  pete

Unless you are never intending to put them back into service, which very much seems to have been the case with the 70 odd in Ashchurch.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826056)
1 day ago
Reply to  pete

Building need to have air conditioning, and pay for it. Unless you have a dry desert like US.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_826192)
19 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

A cheap dehumidifier would do the job perfectly well – keep water vapour levels down so there isn’t a condensation cycle.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825987)
1 day ago
Reply to  pete

That CRARRV needed a good tarp, if it couldn’t get ‘into the dry’. I understand the humidity enemy as well as the rain, of course.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825985)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Thanks Dern. My understanding is that the CR2 donor hulls get essentially a Base Overhaul (BOH) before going down the CR3 build line. If that is as thorough as the BOHs done in the past, it is very, very thorough – all items unbolted and removed, all welds tested and re-welding done if necessary, hull degreased, spray painted. Any items (assemblies, sub-assemblies, wiring looms) removed are either discarded and replaced by new items or refurbished to an as-new standard depending on how this CR3 work has been planned. So a donor hull would have to be twisted/’out of true’ or… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_826034)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Start converting the CRAAVs…

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826189)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Your sense of humour is on point mate!

For those who don’t know…CRARRV has no Chobham armour, would be almost impossible to convert into a CR3 MBT for a host of structural reasons…and even if we did that, we would have no ARRVs to support the tank fleet.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826238)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yeah but apparently we don’t really do supporting assets anymore. So no need for ARRV’s or Amphibious Rigs, or Trojans, or anything like that, the Tank will never cross any natural feature anyway. Not that it matters because apparently we haven’t been able to shoot at infantry since 1960 anyway (exasperated banter ends).

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826273)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Yep…and we all know the tank is obsolete. Doesn’t the Tory and Labour manifesto both talk of cancelling the CR3 project and putting the tankies into Boxer wagons with a little cannon on top. Sure I read that somewhere!

Dern
Dern (@guest_826301)
9 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Of course, we’d all know that if we just decided to read things on the internet rather than merely work with the vehicles and be trained in their tactical and operational use, right?

BFGBob
BFGBob (@guest_826072)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Don’t forget the fleet at BATUS.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826222)
16 hours ago
Reply to  BFGBob

I haven’t mate, the 213 includes the BATUS fleet (which is being, or has been, withdrawn from BATUS anyway).

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_825719)
2 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Just go for the 1500 hp MTU Power pack after all they are part of RR these days, and excellent commonality with Leopard 2 / 3, Boxer and Ajax.

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825724)
2 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Yep let’s rip out engines capable of 1500 hp get new ones and have to set up the supply and maintenance contracts, retrain all our VMs and put the whole build and in service date back by years👍

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_825732)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

I heard the issue with the more powerful engine they tried in a prototype was basically ripping the tracks off, causing them to disassemble or something like that.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_826132)
23 hours ago
Reply to  Jacko

How odd and here is me thinking that it’s the other way round ! Boxer, Ajax, RCH155, thats over 1300 new Armoured vehicles all powered by RR MTU power packs and Renk Transmissions.
Admittedly they are the V8 rather than the V12 but there is a huge amount of commonality. So far fewer issues with spares and training !

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_826314)
4 hours ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Mmmm 👍

Ian
Ian (@guest_825907)
1 day ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Omani CR2 had 1500hp engines fitted as standard irc

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_825909)
1 day ago
Reply to  Ian

They didn’t,it was the same Powerpack as the BA ones.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825993)
1 day ago
Reply to  Ian

You are thinking of the Challenger 2E designed for wider export, which has a 1500bhp MTU 883. I am fairly sure Oman had the 1200bhp Perkins CV-12 unit.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825990)
1 day ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

You can get 1500bhp out of a Perkins CV-12. But fuel consumption will increase (hence range reduces) and reliability and durability may suffer. Transmission, final drives, tracks, brakes etc may need upgrading. The US tried a 1500bhp Perkins in Abrams a few years ago.

simon
simon (@guest_825805)
2 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

how can uk sourced tank production line of 100’s compete with companies producing 1000’s this is pride over common sense.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_825820)
2 days ago
Reply to  simon

Meaning. ? Challenger3 was never going to be more than 100s.
With modern cnc and rapid prototyping tech. Building a small( ish) production run of several hundred brand new tanks is far less of an issue than it was when challenger 2 was original built.

maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_825934)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Well said, however there is a kid in town, the ‘Turtle’ almost a throw back (visually) to the first British tanks. The Russians are quickly developing this concept, which are currently cobbled up in the field but are showing signs of working! I’m sure the engineers in Russia are working on improved systems that offer increase visibility for the crew. That said, I bet similar designs are being developed to fit Western tanks even if they are in kit form and applied as and when. The mouse and the elephant analogy describes the current situation in Ukraine perfectly as the… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_825984)
1 day ago
Reply to  maurice10

A turtle pretty much makes a traditional tank concept irrelevant you might as well create the old unfashionable tank destroyer concept the Germans deployed WW2. It’s a short term answer to an immediate catastrophic failure in using tanks and I suspect the donated tanks are for the most part obsolete versions that have little chance of survival and limited capability in the first place, ie indicative of desperation. They are increasingly being countered by the drone ‘pilots’ and their effectiveness will be short term as such, as weapons are increasingly modified to counter this Heath Robinson effort. As you say… Read more »

maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_826042)
1 day ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

On the issue of mass, 148 CH3 dose not get close. The lengthy debate on the MBT in modern warfare rumbles on and on. To a large extent the pitiful numbers of British MBT’s is due in part to past debate on the issue. That said, I’d prefer the UK to have at least six months plus of fleet survival than possibly two weeks in the case of 148 machines. I’m sure the Ukrainian drone operators will get around the turtle but it maybe considerably longer than we think. One possibility maybe the adoption of the ‘kitchen table’ design currently… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825997)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

We only built 386 CR2s. I think the point being made was about economy of scale hence reducing unit cost, not ease of manufacturing.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826026)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

+22 driver training vehicles.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826172)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Yep!

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_826074)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

And my point is that modern CAd/CAM and rapid prototyping. Cost is less of an issue

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826217)
16 hours ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Cost is always an issue for MoD.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_826230)
16 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Cost is an issue for any defence but if( one hopes) we build a sensible number of Ch 3. We have insufficient hulls available to be upgraded.
It is very feasible to build brand new hulls.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826272)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

MoD has contracted to build 148 CR3s as we know. It is unclear how many usable CR2 hulls there might be in total for conversion to CR3; probably at least 280 but maybe more. It might also be possible to buy back Oman’s 38 CR2’s if they wished to sell them.

I find it an odd idea to build new hulls of a 1990s design, but of course it is feasible, especially as some say the original manufacturing jigs still exist somewhere.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_826288)
11 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

If, IF they decide they need a larger tank force and they have insufficient hulls then they only have two choices.
Buy another tank design which brings with it logistics and interoperability issues.
Or build new hulls .
I know which option is preferable.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826347)
38 minutes ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

I would put money on no election manifesto saying or hinting that we will have more than 148 CR3s and I suspect that the SDSR of the incoming government is unlikely to increase that number at all, or by much. If the figure did miraculously rise from 148 to 280 or so, we should have enough convertable CR2 hulls. If new HMG decide on having a tank fleet of well over 300, then I agree that we either buy another tank off the shelf to augment CR3 and run a mixed fleet – or build new CR3 hulls. I agree… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825996)
1 day ago
Reply to  simon

Perhaps UK doesn’t compete internationally on tank sales nowadays, which accounts for the poor export performance of CR1 (zero sales of new tanks), CR2 (sale of just 38 tanks to Oman).
Chieftain sold fairly well, back in the day.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_826154)
22 hours ago
Reply to  simon

There aren’t many production sites producing thousands of tanks Simon.
The Russians are in full war production and making around 30 T90s a month. 360 a year. They are forecast to get upto 60-70/ month by end 2025. But that’s a tank proven to have a glass jaw and be real easy to knock out.
Next nearest modern competitor is the K2 Black Panther. The South Koreans seem to be able to pump out upto 20 a month. These are far superior tanks to the T90.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_825981)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

We rejected Abrams a long time ago – due to its very high fuel consumption which was logistically hyper-demanding, and its complex maintenance regime.
Nothing much has changed – I am sure we would make the same decision today.
Many M1 Abrams have been lost in combat, so their protection has to be somewhat suspect.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_825983)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I did say the Abrams X which utilises a hybrid diesel engine not a Gas Turbine engine therefore significantly reduced fuel consumption.and is 10 tonnes lighter than the current Abrams.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826114)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Yes, sorry, missed that point. They will still probably be maintenance intensive. Not sure we want our armoured brigades to operate a mixed fleet – CR3 + Abrams X.
But CR3 for the armd bdes + Booker (for 7 Lt Mech Bde) might be a better bet.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826057)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I think you don’t understand what is tank. Side , rear and top armour are weak because you can’t make it a MAUS tank.
Like a battleship only a part of it is armoured.
Any tank in widespread combat will have significant losses.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826067)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Graham served as a REME engineer on CRAAV, pretty sure he has a good idea of “what is tank”

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826096)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

👍

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826198)
18 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Alex, perhaps you should take up stand-up comedy! [That’s called banter, something we army bods do a lot]. I have never said that a tank is immune to successful enemy attack, nor that it is highly protected all over. I am very well aware that side, rear and top armour are less well protected than frontal armour. Quite bizarre for you to think I don’t understand what a tank is, given my 34-year REME career background, which includes: 4 postings to BAOR/BFG to various units (Infantry, RE and REME) in armoured formations; being trained as an AFV driver and holding… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826254)
14 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I don’t think there will be a substantive reply mate…..

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826279)
12 hours ago

👍

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826287)
11 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Well this phrase of yours does not make any sense regarding your supposed knowledge.

Many M1 Abrams have been lost in combat, so their protection has to be somewhat suspect.

How many M1 have been hit compared to have been destroyed and were in its hull for to you make an statement like that?
A big part of a tank have small thickness armour.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826346)
45 minutes ago
Reply to  AlexS

I am not sure why my sentence that you quote back to me does not make sense; it looked clear enough to me. I have access only to Open Source material, like you, so you could have done the research yourself. However here is mine: Gulf War 1 – 7 x M1A1 destroyed by a direct fire weapon (all by friendly fire, weapon system not known). GW2 – By March 2005, some 80 Abrams had been forced out of action by enemy action, 17 of which were BR (Beyond Repair). [By Dec 2006, 530 Abrams had been returned to the… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826199)
18 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Sometimes tanks in widespread combat have significant losses, sometimes not so much. It all depends. To enemy action we lost no CR1 tanks in GW1 or CR2s in GW2. Ukraine has only lost 1 CR2 in the current war.

On the other hand the Russians have lost an enormous number of tanks partly as they are less well armoured than western tanks but more so that they are handled incompetently, and the Ukrainians are better trained soldiers and better use innovative counter-tank solutions.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826253)
14 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

LOL. Alex, you’re debating the wrong man here.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826289)
11 hours ago

Credentials are irrelevant to determine that M1 tank has a suspect armour..

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826330)
2 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

In English please.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826329)
2 hours ago

Who is this buffoon?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826334)
1 hour ago
Reply to  Ian M

It’s great having an opinion and debating it, and it’s fine having detailed knowledge.
But when a real SME comes along with real world experience, one should know how to withdraw deploying smoke, rapidly!
I tread that little minefield all the time.
Alex is like the 6th Army at Stalingrad currently.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826358)
1 minute ago

Well said Daniele👍. I’m always happy to debate but I don’t involve myself in arguments outside of my niche and will give the “talking stick” to an SME every time.
Cheers

BFGBob
BFGBob (@guest_826071)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Ukraine would say No! Difficult to maintain, breakdowns occur regularly.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_826073)
1 day ago
Reply to  BFGBob

I was not aware Ukraine had a say.

Once this senseless war is over. I predict
1) Ukraine will be a NATO member. Probably equipped with Leopards.
2) The country will become a fortress.

Luke Rogers
Luke Rogers (@guest_826237)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

I predict Ukraine after the war will be entirely west of the Dnieper, bankrupt and neutral.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_826258)
14 hours ago
Reply to  Luke Rogers

I very much doubt it!!
But keep wishing Comrade.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_825647)
2 days ago

I would rather have a variety of vehicles, from drone carriers/controllers, missile launchers, IFV, infantry support, mine layers, breecher, mortar carrier, light gun, light himars etc.
tracked and a decent CVRT, FV430 replacement to work alongside boxer. Modular, with common power packs, drive train etc that can be scaled up for heavier weights if needed.

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral (@guest_825651)
2 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Like that idea. A modern FV 432 style chassis perhaps with the tops you mention. It might be nice to upgrade as many CH2 as we can, but are we still in the game of needing 500 + tanks to send…wherever..?
Looking at the MRSS ship designs being floated (!), a 30 or less ton multi role hull would be ideal to support landings, leaving the heavy stuff to come by big transports.
AA

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_825662)
2 days ago

Isn’t that what the US Marines are going for with their amphibious combat vehicle? A 30 ton APC with IFV variants that can swim itself ashore 12 miles. It would have to be amphibious because there doesn’t seem to be a requirement for a vehicle carrying LC short of carrying a tank; the CICs can just carry two tiny beach buggies. What I think makes a lot of sense is an armed amphibious UGV that goes ashore with the CIC and provide the fightiness for the otherwise unarmoured marines in a low-duration raid or to push back the enemy to… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825689)
2 days ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Pretty much every modern APC and IFV fits into this category.
ASCOD, Boxer, CV90, Mowag Piranha, all come in a plethora of variants (so many in fact I’m not going to bother listing them because that would be exhausting!).
M113 and FV432 in part have soldiered on for as long as they have because it’s a fairly basic and flexible design that’s hard to improve upon in a cost effective manner.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_825705)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

It would be really nice if Boxer was amphibious, but it seems a bit too big and heavy for that.
The key thing is that the ACV is designed to swim at 8 knots for 12 miles, whereas Boxer is reliant on a big heavy landing craft to take it ashore.
That’s why I was wondering if a jet ski amphibious UGV would be the best of both worlds; capable of coming ashore independently and fast while also carrying an armament that can compete ashore.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825730)
2 days ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Amphibious is one of those things that people where really big about back in the 70s, but then it was realised it was a huge design limitation (and size isn’t the issue, weight really is), that gave a vehicle a frankly niche capability (and even then, if anything goes even slightly wrong, or your IFV is “sailing” in anything less than perfect conditions, it’ll almost certainly sink). Worth pointing out that the ACV requirement for 12 miles at 8 knots was dropped (or more accurately set aside for a future ACV 2.0 project when “the technology to achieve” it becomes… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_825802)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Hmm, the 70s. I suppose that makes amphibious the ground equivalent of the swing-wing. Heavy and expensive for minimal gain. I, too, have sailed regularly on the Solent and along the south coast (though not in any serious weather) and understand the problem with waves etc. I thought that all of these types of vehicle have sealed hatches etc. so even if they become entirely swamped they are still afloat. The vehicle I mentioned above can do, according to the manufacturers, 45mph on either land or water. As such, a UGV of the type, carrying either a RWS with a… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825951)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Well, in theory some of them have sealed hatches but in practice? Sealing the hatches means sealing yourself inside an AFV, and since hatches open outwards there’s no guarantee you can get out. AFV’s aren’t boats, there are plenty of ingress points for water within the hull (at minimum for the wheel axels, but also engine air intakes and exhausts) so it’s a very confident crew that will seal the hatches (and that’s not factoring in the lack of visibility you get with closed hatches). In practice I’ve almost never seen any images of any Amphibious AFV operating in water… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_825961)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Ok, that’s a pretty comprehensive explanation, thanks.
Do you think my idea for replacing the close support works? I’m slightly worried you haven’t been referring to it because it’s too awful to think about, which happens a lot with my ideas. It seems a bit gimmicky to me but it might actually work for the new model of shorter-duration ops and light weight

Dern
Dern (@guest_825995)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Don’t know about jet ski’s or UGV’s to comment mate.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_826013)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Fair enough, you have your areas of interest and I have mine. I won’t complain when not everyone is enthusiastic about the same things as me.
Thanks for the information Dern, have a nice rest of the day 👍

Dern
Dern (@guest_826029)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I’m not unenthusiastic, I’m just cautious about saying somethings a good idea if I don’t understand the underlying problems that would need solving.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_825998)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Well to be fair that stretch of water is dangerous greatly due to the Isle of Wight, I remember 75 degrees heat and windless conditions on the river became anything but as one moved out of Lymington. However your point is undoubtedly correct, even poignant, it wasn’t long ago US marines lost their lives in one of their older amphibious vehicles as it suddenly sunk. Not a concept that we need to commit to I agree it’s a little overspecialised these days.

Last edited 1 day ago by Spyinthesky
Dern
Dern (@guest_826024)
1 day ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

👍

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_826004)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Be even nicer if it was tracked…it could then get everywhere it would need to to – rather than go places it didn’t 🙂

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_826007)
1 day ago
Reply to  Grizzler

As in, the UGV or boxer?
The UGV is reliant on the folding wheels to achieve the same speeds (45mph) afloat as on land, a key aspect of the concept. It would be much harder to do with tanks.
Tracked boxer overlaps too heavily with the Ajax family for my liking but would be useful as a heavy IFV for working alongside Challengers

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_825737)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

My thinking is the U.K. already makes some good weapons that can go into variants of vehicles. Brimstone, CTA40, starstreak etc etc.
So the main development is smarter armour, counter measures for drones, munitions etc.
heavy armour on its own is not enough so the vehicles could be lighter than 50t.
Working in the army with Ajax and friends, challenger, boxer.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825756)
2 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yup. I mean hell haven’t we seen Starstreak and Brimstone on Jackals?

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_825800)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I’m really surprised we haven’t stuck Brimstone on either side of the Ajax turret, as with the IFVs of nearly every other country. If we’re worried about not having enough tanks to defeat Russian armour, then having enough ATGMs with the range of Brimstone should be a priority, especially as it would allow the Boxer/Ajax combination to deploy reasonably securely without having to wait for tanks to be brought up. I should think the combination of Ajax’s sensors and Brimstone’s 10km range would hold almost all tanks a safe distance away or even allow the recon groups to hunt down… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825952)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I think that’s doctrinal. The British Army has never really gone in for the ATGM-mounted-on-an-AFV thing, instead choosing to place the emphasis on dismounted ATGM teams.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_825964)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

That makes sense when you have Warrior etc, which carry infantry along with them, or with a tank which has its own main armament that kills tanks, but in Ajax we have a vehicle designed to operate at or beyond the FLOT in a semi-independent deployment. It’s unreasonable to assume that a Boxer will always be nearby to provide ATGM teams or even that the infantry carrying them could even keep up over the course of a very mobile engagement (either not being able to run fast enough or spending too long deploying and remounting to be of tactical use).… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825980)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Except that British Formation Recce units have vehicles that carry ATGM teams, with CVRT it was Scimitars and Spartans, now it’s Ajax and Ares, so it’s not like there will never be an ATGM team to support them.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_826011)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Oh yes, I’d forgotten Ares. Are they always going to accompany Ajax? In that case, my point is moot.
Always did like the look of those quad Brimstone launchers on Ares, come to think of it…

Dern
Dern (@guest_826033)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

I believe the current structure of a Formation Recce Regiment is:
3 Recce Squadrons of 12 CVRT/Warrior/Ajax and a SHQ+Support troop
1 HQ Squadron
and
1 Support Squadron consisting of 3 Guided Weapons Troops (Javelin dismounts) and 1x Surveillance Troop

(Unless the Orbat has changed).

So Ajax won’t “always” have ATGM’s with them, but the Commanding Officer can attach ATGM teams to support his Ajax’s whenever he sees fit.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826006)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

How about FV438 Swingfire, Spartan MCT, CVR(T) FV102 STRIKER, Alvis Fox Milan, Ferret FV712 Mk5 Swingfire?
Appreciate most of those are before your time mate!

Dern
Dern (@guest_826020)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I was skipping over those to be fair because they where dedicated ATGM vehicles, rather than Light Tanks/IFV’s with ATGMs. Same principle, offload ATGM’s onto a seperate platform. (Also weren’t ATGM units all brigaded together into a Corps ATGW regiment under the RHA or am I making that up?)

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826046)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Never heard of that mate, that could be a figment of the imagination. Thought Striker, Swingfire was in a GW Troop per FR Reg.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826055)
1 day ago

Found the reference that I was thinking of: “The Guided Weapons Troops of Armoured Regiments were massed in the Corps Anti-Tank Regiment (operated by the Royal Horse Artillery) from 1978 to 1983. The Guided Weapons Troops then returned to the Armoured Regiments before being disbanded in 1986. ” and “Prior to the 1976 reorganisations, the Swingfire ATGM vehicles (both FV-438 and CVR(T) Striker) were operated as ATGW Troops organic to the Armoured and Recce Regiments. They were then massed under the command of the Royal Horse Artillery as a Corps Guided Weapons Regiment. In practice, the regiment was divided up… Read more »

Last edited 1 day ago by Dern
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826110)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Blimey. Learned something there.
Sounds like an early, wheeled 24 Air Mobile Brigade. Though if it was then divided into Batteries per Division what was the thinking, just keep them in their own Troops per Reg which in themselves are spread amongst the BGs.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826224)
16 hours ago

I’m looking into the organisation of the Army in the 70’s and early 80’s and there’s a lot of “Huh that’s WEIRD” things about it (eg the Army completely got rid of Brigades for a while during that time, replacing them with Task and Field Forces). I suspect the thinking was giving Divisional Commanders some flexibility in how they used their ATGMs? But I don’t actually have any rationale for the decision recorded anywhere.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826270)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Then you would be interested in an AAC Flight being under command of an armoured Regiment, I think. Maybe in the 70s. Something like that.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826117)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Fair enough. I seem to recall that FV438 was variously operated at different times by RAC and RA (maybe RHA, not sure). But I don’t know about the brigading aspect of dedicated ‘Tank Destroyers’.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826225)
16 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yeah see my replies to Daniele, it happened briefly in the late 70’s early 80’s apparently, but I suspect the concept didn’t work since it seem’s to have been abandoned pretty quickly.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826271)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Thanks. All very interesting. I remember getting rid of the Brigade level of command. I think it was inspired by a US experiment. Div commander would directly command units, so maybe 9 x BGs plus former Bde CS/CSS tps as well as his own Div Tps.
Was always going to be too big a span of command so the intermediate Task Force was interposed (a brigade HQ by another name). All very ridiculous and quickly abandoned.
Try Orbat.com and Orbat.info

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826058)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

I remember the Swingfire. I even have a Matchbox model of FV102 Striker.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_826003)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

…and ASRAAM

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_825992)
1 day ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Off piste but I do love the idea of Ukraines sea drones carrying ground to air missiles. As Russian copters seem their only effective defence this seems like a great counter.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826022)
1 day ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Seems a bit of a waste to put a 1.7million£ missile on a kamikaze attack system…

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_826032)
1 day ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I agree, that was a really clever workaround to a problem the Ukrainians had clearly come up with; the ability of helicopter patrols to spot and destroy the drones at much longer ranges than a ship by itself could. I wonder if we could turn Steller’s Commando Insertion Craft design into something similar using modules; a sort of Boxer for the Marines. I can think of a whole host of capabilities that would make sense as an additional module to be swapped in and out: Air defence: Either ASRAAM on rails or Starstreak/Martlet using a stabilised gimbal turret. Needed because… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826002)
1 day ago

Our FS Orbat is for just 2 armoured regiments, albeit many of us think we should retain the third one. We never had 500 CR2s or 500 CR1s. You have to go back to Chieftain times (from 1966) to see a tank fleet of 500+

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_826134)
23 hours ago

Just take a look at Tracked Boxer, it can use the same modules as Wheeled Boxer. We are buying at least 600 of the wheeled ones plus those for RCH 155 so to me it makes a lot of sense.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_825986)
1 day ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Spot on, flexibility is the answer. If turtle tanks as desperate as they are, teach us anything something with a base design that has very great flexibility to be upgraded, modified and have many variations as required is at this point surely the way ahead.

Jon
Jon (@guest_825652)
2 days ago

Lowland Scotland for levelling up??? That region already gets more than the average of UK defence investments. Yorkshire or the North East is where any new plant would need to go if levelling up were the primary location driver. However, unless and until the UK government commits to increasing the size of the Army to have at least one full sized warfighting division and ideally more, there will be no more tanks until Challenger 3 needs replacing. Leopard 2 will be history. Given the length of time it takes getting UK armour from concept to the front line, perhaps it’s… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825665)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Don’t hold your breath on MGCS the pace is glacial! It will end up with them both arguing about the spec and role as the French and Germans have different ideas on how to use armour.

Jim
Jim (@guest_825695)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jon

I agree lowland Scotland needs no levelling up as it’s the richest region outside the south east. However it’s absolutely nothing to do with military procurement. Scotland gets very much the UK average spend on defence.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_825734)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Wish someone would share that wealth with me. I must be in the poorer demographic from lowland Scotland.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_826019)
1 day ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I live in London the richest part of the Country statistically, but as such the neglected East End and South East parts had some of the poorest parts of the Country. Far less so now but that’s because the worst parts have increasingly been turned over to the Super rich as the mere mortals have been ethnically cleansed to the outer suburbs and beyond. ‘Regions’ hide a multiple of sins but fact is many parts of Sunderland and Middlesbrough are seriously struggling and neglected even if Newcastle is improving.

Jon
Jon (@guest_825899)
1 day ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes, Jim. My point was this false picture that Stuart paints (England got something and Wales got something, so now it’s Scotlands turn) is misleading. Yorkshire and the North East are always the last two regions for MoD funding, having roughly as many people as Scotland and Wales but a tiny fraction of Scotland’s Defence spend. The tank factory in Leeds was sold off in 2004 and has since been built over with houses, but MoD treats the entire region worse than it would an independent Scotland; if there’s any new tank manufacturing to be done, that’s where it should… Read more »

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_825656)
2 days ago

Agree we need far more tanks, and I wouldn’t argue with a 400-500 minimum. However, if we were to set up a manufacturing capacity for Leopards… wouldn’t it be just as easily to set up a new manufacturing hub for more Challengers or a new tank? Politically, we invented the tank and I don’t see a British government (or the British people) being happy making a German tank!

Dern
Dern (@guest_825690)
2 days ago
Reply to  Rob Young

The problem I have is 400 tanks means supporting units for 400 tanks, and then suddenly we are looking at somehow having to fund a British Army that includes an Armoured Corps. I don’t realistically see how we’d go to having 3-4 divisions, two of which consist of 3 armoured brigades each.

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_825706)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

One thing we are seeing is that tanks have a certain vulnerability so there is a need for quite a few spares, plus we need a bigger army than we’ve got now. 400 tanks wouldn’t last long in a future war – I doubt you’d have time to make new ones.56-58 tanks in an armoured battalion/regiment seems very ‘light’ to me, I would want to see them grouped in pairs – at least 2 armoured brigades would be 232 tanks. Add training vehicles, spares and replacements 400 would be a minimum for me. And honestly I would like to see… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825741)
2 days ago
Reply to  Rob Young

14 Tanks have lasted a year and a half, so I don’t buy the “400 tanks won’t last long” argument. It’s predicated on Russian loss rates and taking them as is written and transposing them onto the British Army, ignoring that that loss rate comes from multiple CAA’s, rather than a single division. You can do 2 Armoured Regiments per Brigade, but it creates a bit of an unbalanced force and, eg with the German 1st Panzer Division, or the US Army 2030 Armored Division concept, tend to balance that out by having their third divisional manuever formation be completely… Read more »

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_825746)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

True. However those regiments will normally be single battalions. Likewise, those 14 tanks surviving a year and a half – is it really that long? – seem to be used very sparingly and not in continuous action.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825755)
2 days ago
Reply to  Rob Young

“Those regiments will normally be single battalions” Not normally. In the British Army an Armoured Regiment is a single battalion. Much like we say Squadron instead of Company, or Troop instead of Platoon, in the RAC (and in every Corps that has a cavalry tradition) we say “Regiment” instead of “Battalion.” (largely because due to the upper class nature of raising cavalry forces, Cavalry regiments did not generate 2nd Battalions for raising fresh forces back home, the way the infantry did). No tank is used in “continuous action” for a year and a half mate. Vehicles need maintenance, troops need… Read more »

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_825758)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Fair enough.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_825778)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

You last if you seldom do combat like CH2 are seldom doing.

Tanks are vulnerable but the worst issue is that they do only direct fire, so limited range.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825790)
2 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yeah I don’t believe that’s the case and I know you don’t have expertise in this field Alex.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825953)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

That was harsh of me, sorry, I’ve just had this conversation like three times and logging on to see the same argument being thrown at me again snapped me.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826012)
1 day ago
Reply to  Rob Young

There have been times when we had 44 or 38 tanks in an armoured regiment, so 56-58 is fine by me.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_825736)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Bingo.

Simon
Simon (@guest_825889)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Indeed, were would we find all the support units from. plus we only have 99 HET’s. Would we have enough CRARRV’s ? fuel tankers ? all the personal to man them

Dern
Dern (@guest_825954)
1 day ago
Reply to  Simon

Yup it’s a huge uptick in capability on so many fronts.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826008)
1 day ago
Reply to  Rob Young

We didn’t have 400 CR2s or 500 CR1s. I don’t ever see the BA having a 400-500 strong tank fleet. NATO chiefs seems to be content that we would field just one warfighting (armoured) div, not 2 or 3 or 4.

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_826068)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

CR1 came out at the end of the Cold War – that’s what we’re heading back to. So previous numbers are not a good guide. I agree we’re not going to get up to those figures – just think we need to!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826210)
17 hours ago
Reply to  Rob Young

But CR2 was ordered and fielded post-Cold War. My reference to past numbers of both CR1s and CR2s was to indicate the size of current and immediate fleet.

Rob Young
Rob Young (@guest_826242)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not the 4,000 which is how many Centurions were made (obviously not all for the UK!), or the 900 or so Chieftains. Replacement tanks such as CR1 and 2 were not made in the same numbers as cold war tanks: they were peace dividend numbers. We’re back in a cold war situation ne – needs to get back towards cold war numbers!

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_825657)
2 days ago

Trust me, I think having 148 tanks is embarrassing. However The way tasks annd capabilities are assigned in NATO, heavy armour is not something the UK is supposed to bring to the table. Lets us all not forget the US marine corp have ditched all their heavy armour. Although the lessons from Ukraine may lead to that decision being reversed, I do however think in the near future, a sizeable permanent NATO presence in the Baltic states to deter a future Russian land grab in that direction, ( those being the most vulnerable NATO members) Which will require a sizeable… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825691)
2 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

“The way tasks and capabilities are assigned to NATO”
And what way would that be? Because if you’ve not checked, the UK retains a key role in EFP, maintaining an armoured battlegroup in Estonia. No idea where this concept of NATO not expecting the UK to provide armoured forces came from (certainly not the UK as we’ve consistently said we consider a deployable armorued division to be our standard).

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_825718)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Correct me if I am wrong but even at 148 we have enough tanks to fulfil our NATO obligations.
I didn’t say they wouldn’t be.
I am not defending 148 tanks, in fact I distinctly said it was embarrassing.
I further said that I expect a change in NATO posture, to maintain a significant military presence in the Baltic states to counter the obvious possible next move by Putin .
As regards NATO and U.K. roles it was my understanding the U.K. principal roles was Air defence( not exactly sure how) space ( another head scratcher) and Cyber.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_825740)
2 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

The lesson from Ukraine seems to be keep your old kit so it can be brought back if needed.

Nath
Nath (@guest_825769)
2 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yes and I think Uncle Sam has 8000+ mothballed Day 2, 3 and 4 tanks that would fit that bill nicely.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825748)
2 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

“NATO obligations” is a bit of a bad way to describe them. NATO doesn’t really work like that, and if you try and think about it that way it’ll lead you astray. NATO doesn’t look at the UK and say “Well you are this wealthy and have this kind of focus so we’ve decided after consulting the spreadsheet you are obliged to provide NATO with X number of tanks.” Our “Obligations” are more like “Commitments.” We will always have enough tanks to fill our NATO Commitments, because if we don’t, when NATO says “We need to deploy forces to the… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826018)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Michael, where do you get your last sentence from? We have always comitted to NATO far more than those three niche areas of capability. We have a full spectrum of capability – we offer it and we use it.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826015)
1 day ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

What is the relevance of saying that USMC has dropped M1 Abrams? Our RM Cdos have never had tanks. So what? The British Armys armoured div is a different story – of course it needs tanks.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_826030)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Trying to see the tank arguement from both sides and using the example of USMC as an example of if we need a large tank force.
I believe we do , I believe the 148 is a joke but it is worth discussing the question.
We certainly don’t need them to defend the U.K. which begs the question what do we need to meet our NATO commitments.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826186)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

I cannot see the point of comparing the USMC to the British Army. If anything compare USMC to the RM. We don’t need a large tank force – just one that is of a sensible size. After the Berlin wall came down, MoD did a defence review (much analysis done) to determine the size and shape of the armed forces after the Cold War. One conclusion was that we needed to reduce the size of the forces in manpower and platform count – the army would come down to a mere 120,000 (from 160,000) and reduce tank numbers from 435… Read more »

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_825661)
2 days ago

A flight of fantasy from beginning to end. However I could indulge in the same windmill tilting.
A similar proposal only this time Merkava and Namer built under licence. Same hull so commonality there. Truly combat tested and as a result real-time updates to counter different anti tank threats. A tank built for tankers based on their observations. Unlike the other options the Merkava is constantly evolving and upgrading learning lessons from near constant operations.

Simon m
Simon m (@guest_825664)
2 days ago

Personally I’d like to know why construction of new Challenger hulls would be so difficult & more difficult than setting up Leopard manufacturing. Why would we spend money setting up a new site away from Telford or Stockport, where Rheinmettall & KNDS already have sites? If we were to adopt another tank design then it would be better to look at something more deployable to mainland Europe. Scotland is barely thankful or even recognises their virtual monopoly on building warships for the RN I’m not sure giving it AFV production would change the politics. Ideally we need to build a… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825693)
2 days ago
Reply to  Simon m

The one true advantage would be that Rheinmetal has experience setting up Leopard 2 production lines in allied countries for limited runs. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Greece all followed this model. Challenger on the other hand (assuming the know how to build them/the designs are to hand) would be a completely new leap for Rheinmetal/BAe. Do-able yes. But not something they could just dust the plans off for.

Simon m
Simon m (@guest_825722)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Thanks you’d hope that as the OEM that the plans would be there to dust-off! But you never know! 🙂 But yes you mean in terms of tooling & techniques then straight to production. Would be an advantage & the defacto franchise setup has advantages. The presumption is that we do need the hulls, it’s likely that the actual hull of previous tanks are intact & that would extend to CR1. I would say that the greater difficulty would be smaller parts where the knowledge how has been lost. Major parts engine & transmission seem to have availability from Perkins… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825753)
2 days ago
Reply to  Simon m

Long term of course they aren’t. Leo 2 is a tank that first saw service in the 1970’s, based on a design from the 1960s (Same for M1 Abrams). Challenger is an 80’s design based on a design from the 1950s. Both will eventually need replacing with something

But whatever the technological step change that the next generation of MBT’s will bring isn’t here yet, so for now, incremental upgrades to serviceable platforms is the name of the game.

DJ
DJ (@guest_825905)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

I have for a long time thought that the super heavy mbt has had its day. Not that the tank is dead, but 60-80t mbt is self defeating. Something more like the Booker tank, is (for now) the better bet. Basically a heavy IFV with a tank turret. Can you withstand a 120mm direct hit – no – so plan on not getting hit. Speed, firepower, APS & ability to cross any bridge you come to. Ask any boxer, it’s better to hit & not be hit, than to try & slug it out Rocky style. You do if you… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825958)
1 day ago
Reply to  DJ

So, the issue is that there’s a difference between Tactical, Operational and Strategic Mobility. Strategic Mobility is “How hard is it to get from the UK to the War Zone.” and Tanks Strategic mobility sucks, you basically either need a train or ships to transport them (A C-17 can lift a M1 Abrams, but if a single Brigade needs 50-70 MBT’s that’s one hell of a lift requirement). M10’s and Bradleys weigh less so the lift situation is better, but your strategic mobility will still suck compared to for example a light infantry unit, where you can lift half a… Read more »

SailorBoy
SailorBoy (@guest_826016)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Centauro, you say, hmm…
Boxer with 105mm turret?

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826060)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Centauro and any wheeled like vehicle also has a somewhat strategic mobility, it certainly can do 1500km in 5 days assuming euro highways and roads.

DJ
DJ (@guest_826182)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Except the likes of Booker, Redback, Lynx etc have actually managed to make it to the tree line. The heavy mbt (take your pick) is still stuck on the the wrong side of the bridge. To slug it out means tank on tank or WW1 style trench warfare (Ukraine ), D-Day etc. You do if you have to, but be prepared for the butchers bill. They actually used bayonets as bayonets (rather than can openers etc) in the Falklands at one point. It’s not just a Ukraine thing. What’s the difference between Centauro & Boxer with a CMI 105/120 turret?… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_826226)
16 hours ago
Reply to  DJ

Again, we are talking about the difference between Operational and Tactical Mobility. There is a reason that an Armoured Division comes with all sorts of enablers such as (for example) Engineering Groups with Bridging equipment. (And this is why when talk about more tanks get’s brought up people like me and Daniele start harping on about enablers, because cool 400 tanks is great…but you need fuel trucks to support them, engineers to throw up bridges or operate amphibious rigs etc). It’s high cost to ensure Operational Mobility, but when you get to the other side you have a vehicle that’s… Read more »

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_826014)
1 day ago
Reply to  DJ

It was interesting watching a recent program on Kirsk where the larger German (Tiger?) tanks outclassed the more numerous T34’s. (I know the T34 was not the main Russian MBT) I have seen different conclusions on that battle – but the evidence presented more recently was that the smaller number of Tigers (Panthers?) were out clasing & out fighting the more numerous T34’s , & were destroying them at multiples of the rate they were losing. It was Hitler that screwed the southern flanks success’ in order to shore up the Northern flank- nuch to the chagrin of his tank… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_826045)
1 day ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Oooohhh we get a Kursk conversation! Cool! Okay so: At Kursk there where only 146 Tigers that saw action, and just over 200 Panthers. The *vast* majority of the German Armour where Panzer III and IV variants (breakdown being about 650 Panzer III’s (mostly with the 50mm gun upgrade), 700 Panzer IV’s (mostly with the long 75 upgrade) and about 450 StuG III’s). So you can see that the “Big Cats” where really a minority of the armour in the offensive. So, next thing: After the War, Hitler was dead. But Manstein wasn’t. In fact, Mainstein became a best selling… Read more »

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826098)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

I do like details!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826111)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Damn! You best me to it! I love this stuff.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826227)
16 hours ago

Verlorene Siege translates into English as “I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling Hitler.”

Simon
Simon (@guest_826159)
21 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

No radio and very poor sights in the T34 as well as a poor standard of crew training.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826115)
1 day ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Just itching to add to the excellent post below by Dern. I don’t agree on that assertion that Hitler screwed it up. Manstein only commanded the southern front of the Kursk salient, where the greatest penetration had been made and which climaxed at the supposed “greatest tank battle” as Dern details. He of course would want it to continue, even if 2 SS PZ Korps had been fought to a standstill and only made a narrow penetration. ( The Korps on its flanks, of Wermacht, had not) Manstein believed he could get operational freedom of manoeuvre if the attack had… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_826228)
16 hours ago

I always think about how many “Tank engagements” in WW2 where not decided by Tanks shooting tanks, but by mines, and AT guns and Artillery. And how what we are seeing is not new.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_826264)
14 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Battle of Medenine springs to mind. And pretty much the soviet defence in depth at Kursk.

Henry Lamb
Henry Lamb (@guest_825666)
2 days ago

148 would last around 2 weeks, 400 would last 5-6 weeks.. so what’s really the point unless you have guaranteed air superiority (and even then that’s not given)? As an island, the UK is better of investing in the RAF and Navy, which is embarrassingly small. Not 400 tanks that it barely has the logistics to move.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825694)
2 days ago
Reply to  Henry Lamb

14 have lasted a year and a half…

Brian Dee
Brian Dee (@guest_825707)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I don’t think the challengers have been used much,look at YouTube where the Ukrainians would love to plaster challenger destroys T whatever

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825725)
2 days ago
Reply to  Brian Dee

Well unless you can actually prove that other than you haven’t seen them on YouTube I would say that to have a SQN of tanks sitting idle is rubbish!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826023)
1 day ago
Reply to  Jacko

Agreed. Ukraine would not fail to use the (useful) western tanks that they lobbied hard for.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825750)
2 days ago
Reply to  Brian Dee

Ukraine has nearly 1,000 MBT’s, of which 13 are Challengers. I’m going out on a limb and saying your not seeing much of them because there are not many of them.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_825780)
2 days ago
Reply to  Brian Dee

The repair, maintenance situation is one of Ukrainian criticism, so much time stopped, also they are not very useful due to lack of HE rounds. So only when an armoured thrust by Russian cannot be defeated by indirect weapons and missiles it justify to employ a CH2.
So they haven’t been much used. But they might be important in the situation above.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825791)
2 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

“Not very useful due to lack of HE rounds” Nope. That’s why HESH exists. You seem to think that the only use for tanks is to be the primary stop to an enemy armoured thrust. It’s not. Whether Challenger or T80 or Leopard, the main defence is still IDF and missiles. But hey, facts don’t really matter do they? The actual truth is that the Ukranians have been using Challengers as mobile assault guns to support infantry attacking fixed positions (a role that’s not unusual for tanks). People forget that direct fire from a Tank can reach out several miles… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Dern
Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_826017)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

So why not keep the C2 gun then – as its considered (by UKr Troops) as a sniper tank due to the rifled gun.
Is it just as a result of the available ammo- or is there more to it?

Dern
Dern (@guest_826043)
1 day ago
Reply to  Grizzler

A few reasons: First, and yes most importantly: The L30 (the CR2’s gun) uses different ammunition than the rest of NATO. This means that further developments, especially for APFSDS (Armour Piercing Fin Stabilizing Discarding Sabot) rounds hasn’t been made for the Challenger 2, while the Americans and Germans (who both use the RH-120) have. (Also the L30’s APFSDS round has always been a bit worse than the Rh-120’s since a) it’s a shorter penetrator, so less kinetic energy on impact and b) firing it from a rifled barrel means having a special slip ring that nullifies the spin, but also… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826061)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

False. HESH is not good against infantry unless it is inside a pillbox and even then… A MPAT round for the German120 is more effective but are not considered to have enough explosive compared to Warsaw Pact rounds for 125mm T-Tank series.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826066)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

I don’t really care if you think it’s false Alex, it’s still effective against Infantry. The British Army has used HESH in the Anti-Infantry role for the L7, L11, and L30, that’s 60 years, including 2 Gulf Wars and the entire Cold War. It’s fine. That’s every mark of Cheiftain, Challenger 1, Challenger 2, including real world combat deployments against enemy infantry. But apparently, despite developing multiple new guns, and for much of that time having a healthy land military industrial complex, the British Army never replaced the, supposedly, ineffective HESH round in the anti-infantry role? Or, is this a… Read more »

Last edited 1 day ago by Dern
Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826027)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

CR2s are designed to defeat enemy heavy/light armour at typically 2-4km but can also take on strongpoints.

Artillery mainly drops HE on the enemy, especially dismounted infantry or on light vehicles – different weapon, different job, different range.

CR2s are not a last resort if you don’t have enough artillery.

Last edited 1 day ago by Graham Moore
AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826062)
1 day ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Ukrainians say they use it as sniper tank but most of the fight is not that. So there is a vehicle – BMP, T-80 whatever supporting frontline Russian forces , there comes the Challenger.

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_826094)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Stop digging!you have been told by people who have been there done it and got the tee shirt🙄

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826181)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Jacko

That people have no credibility just like you, just Challenger fanboys.
You just have to go read what is a HESH round properties.

Then tell me they are proper to hit infantry compared to a similar calibre tank HE round…

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_826211)
17 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

😂😂👍

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826208)
17 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Ukarine can use their military equipment however they wish. They have a single tank company of just 10 Challys (and 3 spare). They have limited tech support/spares, so wish to limit the amount of motoring they do. Thus they choose to use them in a sniper tank role (which we would not ordinarily do) and they are incredibly effective in that role. The Russians fear them.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826291)
11 hours ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

So? I say it is a wise choice, you use the equipment where it is more profitable.

The discussion here is the properties of HESH round. Dern says they are good against infantry, i say they are mediocre at best because that is how HESH works. It is not a round against infantry and UK did not developed a round against infantry because UK tank force was not to fire on infantry but fight Warsaw pact tank hordes and AFVs where there number of WP tanks in Europe were several times of NATO.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826297)
10 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

Alex thinks that UK tanks for 60 years did not ever fire against Infantry nor planned to fight against Infantry. Alex is stupid if he thinks this. Do not be like Alex. Those of us who have both worked with the RAC and had families and friends who have worked in the RAC and so have first hand knowledge of the fact that the British Army has planned to and actually used HESH against Infantry Targets, know better. Guess we where hoping that the Soviets would never think of having Infantry support their “tank hordes,” because all they’d need is… Read more »

Last edited 10 hours ago by Dern
Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826354)
8 minutes ago
Reply to  AlexS

I hope you continue your convo with Dern who has great knowledge about the current army and the recent historic army. Important to recognise where the enemy infantry are on the battlefield. Basically they can be anywhere – dismounted in shell scrapes or trenches in woods or fields or dismounted in buildings (be they strong-points or regular buildings), in TCVs (trucks), in APCs, in IFVs, or advancing dismounted in the open. Wiki: HESH was developed by Dennistoun Burney in the 1940s for the British war effort, originally as an anti-fortification “wallbuster” munition for use against concrete.  So HESH can deal… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826021)
1 day ago
Reply to  Henry Lamb

This island nation has expeditionary responsibilities. We invented the tank solely to work overseas (France 1916).
We can move our tanks strategic distances.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_826131)
23 hours ago
Reply to  Henry Lamb

Sense. What is the problem? What are the solutions? What solution can we afford that delivers the most in terms of effectiveness? What are our realistic goals? Here we are seeing many knowledgeable and honourable people trying to make tanks work for the next century. I really think its time to think beyond tanks.

Rob C
Rob C (@guest_826317)
3 hours ago
Reply to  Henry Lamb

@Henry Lamb, I read through the thread for 15 minutes to reach your comment. I agree. The civvies didn’t like GW2 nor Afghanistan. Where are we going to need MBTs? To help out our central and Eastern European neighbours? Surely they should be doing that for themselves? The Soviet Union hasn’t existed for 30 years and Ukraine has fought Russia to a virtual standstill. We should invest in OUR defence interests (I.e. defending our island and global trade). If any of our allies (NATO, BOTs, AUKUS, Commonwealth) should need help we will come to their aid but we shouldn’t be… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_826322)
3 hours ago
Reply to  Rob C

Bit of a contradiction there isn’t there? Defend our priorities but if needed help others! Surely that’s what we are actually doing by being members of NATO?

BeaconLights
BeaconLights (@guest_825668)
2 days ago

I don’t think they would be able to work around german export controls by just building them in the UK through right? The company also has an existing facility in the UK producing Boxer, they would presumably just expand this facility rather than spinning up a new one from scratch. restarting CH2 hull production, is something that RBSL would probably consider doing if they received an order book of 500+ units. They can take everything they modified for CH3 and anything they missed out modifying to make CH3 hulls from scratch, particularly with modern machining tech. They could maybe even… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825676)
2 days ago
Reply to  BeaconLights

The Swiss had all sorts of problems building Leo 2,CR3 is not an upgrade of CR 2 it’s a new tank that happens to have kept the hull. Leo 2A8 will still be on a hull that has been reworked through its life and in all probability older than even CR 2 hulls as happens with Abrams up dates. The author has had a downer on Challenger 2 from the very outset so it’s not surprising that he is stirring the pot again.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_825835)
2 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

What problems did the Swiss have building Leo2 ?.

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825849)
2 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Reading from Osprey book CR2 1987-2006
the Swiss ordered 380 2A4,345 built in Switzerland in took two years to negotiate with subcontractors before manufacturing could begin,this raised the price by 25% and obviously delayed service entry.

GlynH
GlynH (@guest_825698)
2 days ago

We are a Navy, Air Force, Army (in that order of priority) country. Our contribution to future “major” conflicts will be securing the seas & oceans not fighting it out on land. The other side of the coin, Germany, Poland etc. is an Army, Air Force, Navy (in that order of priority) country. The two priorities complement each other. We don’t’ expect Germany, Poland etc. to send Naval forces to deal with Ivan’s Northern Fleet, by the same ilk they can’t expect us to land hundreds of tanks for the front line.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_825728)
2 days ago
Reply to  GlynH

You are about two centuries out of date! Without air superiority or at least parity, including ground-based air defence, land and sea forces are just too vulnerable. Air power is first priority. You do not stop a land invasion in NATO Europe with warships! It requires capable armoured land forces in considerable numbers. The UK is expected to make the major contribution on the North German Plain, which requires considerably more than our minimalist two current armoured infantry brigades. We also need to field medium and light forces for NATO flanks and out of area ops. Where again our two… Read more »

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy (@guest_825864)
1 day ago
Reply to  Cripes

There are undersea cables that, if cut, would cause Europe much grief.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_825923)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

Indeed Dave. The RN is commissioning 2 Proteus MROS ships to police undersea cables from the UK. It is not enough, it really needs 3 to give the possibility of 2 on station at any one time given the large number and geographical spread of cables and pipelines.

That is a small, specialist task that will nvolve under 3% of the fleet. It is not a reason to start viewing the navy as the priority service.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825765)
2 days ago
Reply to  GlynH

(Maybe don’t pick 2 of the three most powerful navies on the Baltic sea to make that point XD )

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_826031)
1 day ago
Reply to  GlynH

Which British service has done the most warfighting in the last 30 years? You minimise the army’s operations.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_826135)
23 hours ago
Reply to  GlynH

Precisely. There are basic considerations left out of this conversation. Our great strategic asset is geography. In the First and Second World War our hugely increased land armies were smaller than our adversaries and yet required very large contingents from Allied (Empire) countries. We have not sought to fight a land war (a war beyond a campaign against tribes or tiny powers) alone since Elizabeth I’s reign. Until William of Orange dragged Blighty into his Continental wars and the Hanoverians followed up, our main focus was on the sea. It was there we gained our ‘world power’ role. We could… Read more »

Marked
Marked (@guest_825713)
2 days ago

Nobody that matters is pushing for greater numbers. Those whose voice is listened to are staying quiet and not rocking the boat. All normal there.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN (@guest_825714)
2 days ago

I get the reasoning with building in Scotland especially the area with it readily available facilities etc and competition for industry is generally a good thing. However that’s where for me the wheels start to come off. We are in under any circumstances able to sustain 2 MBT variants, choosing leopard would mean the death of challenger. The army isn’t set up for that eventuality it would take years under the current financials to set up and train for leopard, money better spent would be on more challenger hulls (existing infrastructure) and upgrade all the other mk.2s to the mk.3… Read more »

pete
pete (@guest_825715)
2 days ago

Man is delusional 150 vehicles is not viable production number , Once built the factory would close like BAE Newcastle without any future work. Would take a long time to train up a workforce in Scotland from scratch, would be delays like AJAX factory !

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy (@guest_825865)
1 day ago
Reply to  pete

“man is delusional”, agreed.
Got him his 15 minutes though.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_825717)
2 days ago

When is this ex Army Officer going to get off his “I love German Leopard Tanks” bandstand ? That train left the station 2 decades ago and what’s the point when the CR3 is already in build and yes I believe new ones could be built. As for building in Scotland which part of massive shortage of skilled labour doesn’t he get. I’m originally from Galloway and there just isn’t the skill sets available. And besides which all you would be doing is creating a brand new facility, building a few hundred tanks and then shut it down. He’s an… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825721)
2 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Amen👍

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_825738)
2 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Just skipped through it mate, not serious for me.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825759)
2 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I’ll be honest, the “Leopard is amazing and we should have bought it” opinion is very common in the RAC, particularly among Officers who served in the 1990’s (I’ve had similar conversations with quite a few of them over the years).

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy (@guest_825868)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Is this because Challenger was never fully developed?
Challenger could be everything that the Abrams is, with sponds.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825959)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

I’m going to go with the assumption that you mean “Is this because Challenger never got upgrade packages?”

And the answer to that is “No” because this school of thought is from the 90’s when it was a question of whether the Challenger should be acquired (and at the time it was everything the Abrams was), or whether Leopard should be acquired.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826063)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

Leopard is more reliable. Leopard also has an independent commander sight and that makes the tank commanders happy.

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy (@guest_826095)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Nothing that the Challenger could not have had.
Limited funds.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826099)
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

CR3 has an independent Commanders Sight. 360 deg panoramic, same as AJAX.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_826183)
19 hours ago
Reply to  Ian M

Yes CR3 have , I was talking about the past.

Dominic Davis-Foster
Dominic Davis-Foster (@guest_825733)
2 days ago

If only the Challenger production line in Leeds wasn’t now a housing estate. What shortsighted thinking was that?

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_826143)
22 hours ago

Just as well the other one on Tyneside is still in one piece and building parts for various Armoured vehicles including the CR3 turrets !

Dave c
Dave c (@guest_825735)
2 days ago

Chally is too heavy for Scotland as is leo2 and there’s a reason the Germans have had to invent non burning propellant.

As usual we are way way behind the curve.

Start building mech suits.

Dern
Dern (@guest_825760)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dave c

Two words: Ground Pressure.

And I say that as a Battletech fan.

Tomartyr
Tomartyr (@guest_825742)
2 days ago

So I’ve been wondering if the future is cheaper tanks with the expensive sensors moved onto ugvs and uas which can be shared between several tanks

Dern
Dern (@guest_825762)
2 days ago
Reply to  Tomartyr

Then you need to put more protection onto the UGVs so you don’t loose the sensors, which means a bigger engine to move the heavier protection, which means more expense…. oh. (I don’t disagree that MBT’s will get some degree of offboard sensors, but I suspect the MBT will have the “expensive package” with a lot of protection and the off board systems will use cheaper more expendable sensors… also there has to be a trade off. The RAC experimented with putting a camera on the end of a CR2’s gun, and found it was counter productive because the crew… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Dern
Graham Pearce
Graham Pearce (@guest_825751)
2 days ago

Should never have shut the vickers tank factory in leeds
I new it would come back to haunt us that decision

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_825773)
2 days ago
Reply to  Graham Pearce

Vickers in their wisdom set up 2 production lines for CR2, Armstrong Works Newcastle still stands but the Company and product has changed.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_826148)
22 hours ago
Reply to  Paul T

Not by much as it’s building the CR3 turrets, the building is fine and could be re purposed back. You just need the ££££’s tondo it, but I’ve always said why not look at another very patriotic company who build huge land vehicles if they could build new CR3 hulls by adapting their existing plant.
JCB build some very large machines and have a trained workforce.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826236)
15 hours ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I would be really interested to see what JCB could develop in the field of AFVs.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_825752)
2 days ago

Of cours e we need a larger heavy force, our two armoured infantry brigades are quite inadequate to play more than a minor part in repelling any Russian push into Eastern Europe. The best we can hope for, if we ever get an increase to 2.5% of GDP, is the raising of a third armoured infantry brigade and providing the regular CS and CSS units to bring 4 Infantry Bde up to warfighting strength. 3 armoured infantry brigades would require a total of 260 tanks – 168 frontline, 42 in trials/Phase 2 training/field training sqn, and minimum 25% (52) in… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by Cripes
Dern
Dern (@guest_825764)
2 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

(The ones parked in the rain at Ashchurch are not part of the 213, they are the 72 that are listed for “final disposal”). In total we have 285 Challenger Hulls plus 22 driver trainers. What are your Armorued Infantry Brigades mounted on? While I like the idea of fwd basing in Germany, I don’t see it happening, at least not at Brigade scale. It’s too far to the rear to be usefully “forward deployed” and would require significant investment into old BAOR infrastructure (If there even exists enough still to house a Brigade, much of it went to development… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_825838)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I think your’s is the first definitive number we have had for the Chally fleet, Dern. Good info. I thought the 72 had been disposed of years ago. So we have, on paper, 307 tanks, of which we plan to upgrade 148, with the remaining 159 deemed unserviceable, too far gone to be saved or whatever. I would be surprised if we couldn’t get 60 runners out of the 159 by stripping the rest for parts. In my ideal world, the AI bdes would be mounted on Warrior AIFVs, with the Warriors undergoing the planned but scrapped upgrade (the Warrior… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825971)
1 day ago
Reply to  Cripes

So the 72 for final disposal number comes from a Government FOI request dated to September 2016. So you could have a point with the disposed years ago, but I found Aerial footage of Ashcurch dated June 2023 and could count 70ish (counting low pixel tanks is hard) tanks in outdoor storage there. I’m putting two and two (or 70 and 70 I guess) together and making the assumption that it’s not a coincidence and the government has dragged it’s heels on disposing of the 72 tanks, taking the path of least resistence to leave them to rot in Ashchurch.… Read more »

pete
pete (@guest_826009)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Several of the buildings at Ashchurch were closed due to the asbestos from the roofs falling on to workers tool boxes , many vehicles covered in bird poo . Visitors get tour of climate controlled building, alleged that Cameron wanted to send vehicles to Germany for storage and sell site to chum for housing !

scott
scott (@guest_825754)
2 days ago

Here’s an excellent opportunity to bust open the reason the British Defence industry exists. Is it there to provide serviceable equipment for the Armed Forces or to buy seats in Westminster with the tax payers money?
How about ordering the tanks as a split order, half made in Scotland and half from the German factory. We can measure cost and timescale overruns as well as reliability of the final product. Without wishing to prejudice the final outcome, there’s a reason the majority of us drive German/Japanese/Korean motorcars.

Martin
Martin (@guest_825763)
2 days ago

C3 is more advanced than Leo2A8 the Leo hull is 50 years old, Leo 2 has weaker armour than C2 let alone C3. And why do we need 400 plus tanks, who is going to man them? how would we move them? And Leo 2 spares are are like rocking horse s**t, very, very hard to find. Leo 2 was tried and test by the UK and turned down. C2 biggest weakness was its gun and power pack. Both are being addressed along with better armour, mine protection and APS. All on a vehicle 20 years younger than Leo2. Leo2… Read more »

Martin
Martin (@guest_825766)
2 days ago

And fact there are more than enough C2 hulls to build the 148 tanks need and more. 200 plus in service along plus the stored ones which number over a 100 the only problem is getting 148 with out touching the in service fleet. So there is NO shortage the total number could easy be doubled but that would require the rebuild of serving hulls and that is being avoided. 400 plus hulls were built, 14 given to Ukraine and and some others scrapped. Worst case there are 300 hulls or more remaining. Not sure what state they are in… Read more »

Gary
Gary (@guest_825767)
2 days ago

The Ch3 turret is all new and in production. Why can’t you marry the turret to a different hull?
Couldnt they either design a new hull or use an existing one?

Dern
Dern (@guest_825768)
2 days ago
Reply to  Gary

Because designing a new hull is expensive, and if you want an existing hull you’ll have to find one with the same turret ring diameter.

Gary
Gary (@guest_825770)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Got you.
.I knew it had been done before, Vickers was always putting various turrets on different hulls.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_825774)
2 days ago
Reply to  Gary

The CR3 Turret is supposed to be export friendly, whether anyone else will buy it is another matter.

Kane
Kane (@guest_825772)
2 days ago

There’s absolutely no shortage of usable tank hulls, the problem is a massive increase in the original expected cost and the government going back on their iron clad agreement to upgrade more Chally 2’s. Yes the British Army should increase the number of tank regiments, however the money isn’t there. The cost of the upgrades is a drop in the ocean compared to the running cost of the tank and the training cost for the crew. A tank and its crew costs around £2 million every 2 years by my reckoning, it could well be more like £3million. The only… Read more »

Jacko
Jacko (@guest_825799)
2 days ago
Reply to  Kane

Your first sentence is wrong isn’t it?CR3 is a fixed price contract and is actually coming in under budget at the moment!

David Owen
David Owen (@guest_825775)
2 days ago

If you want a cheap tank ,build the ones from the first world war ,the way things are going with the brain dead government that’s what will happen 😆 🤣, attack on mass ,blown to shit but job is done ,option 2 buy into the euro tank, adapt to british needs and armour specifications, WAIT AND SEE ?

Paddy
Paddy (@guest_825779)
2 days ago

Sorry to pee on your fireworks but we are broke and the government, this or next is not going to increase the tank force

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_825782)
2 days ago
Reply to  Paddy

I wonder if they can find the drawings for that last Vickers tank, upgrade it to Ch3 + standard and wouldn’t that be as British as it could get? In all seriousness, shouldn’t they be trying to maximise what can already be upgraded from existing Ch2 stocks first and get it up to at least 200? And money for more tanks, what about some too for our old favourite, “tracked IFVs”?😂🤣

Dern
Dern (@guest_825792)
2 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Do you mean the Mk7? It’s a Leopard with a Vickers turret, with a L11 gun (so the old 2 piece ammunition). Upgrading it to CR3 standard would mean a new turret… so just a Leopard with a new turret.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_825795)
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes the Mk7. Got you. Thanks Dern. I didn’t initially realise it was a UK-German collaboration after checking on wiki. You might as well go the “full-German” base design build/assemble as much as possible in the UK and maybe call it the “Lion” to sound more British! Or upgrade to the Panther and call that the “Lion” because it will be! … Lol 😁 Good posts from everyone above. Had to whizz read through. Hope there’s enough logistics and people and money to handle a larger tank fleet and everything else we want!

Dern
Dern (@guest_825972)
1 day ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Nah, it would have to be called the Cheetah or Chariot or Crusader. British Tanks always start with “C.”

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_826107)
1 day ago
Reply to  Dern

Chameleon?

Dern
Dern (@guest_826235)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Paul.P

If it comes with the Thermal concealment technology that was apparently demonstrated on the Abrams X then why not?

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_826275)
12 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Klingon cloaking is the way to go 🙂
On a more serious note chameleon in the sense of camouflage is one thing. Chimera in the sense of a tank assembled from different origins would be another. Crusader sounds good.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826298)
9 hours ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The List of existing “C” names for British Tanks is fairly long and gives a few good ideas to reuse too: Cruiser Mk. I Cruiser Mk II Cruiser Mk III Cruiser Mk IV Covenanter (Cruiser Mk V) Crusader (Cruiser Mk VI) Cavalier (Cruiser Mk VII) Cromwell (Cruiser Mk VIII) Centaur (Cruiser Mk VIII) Challenger Churchill Comet Centurion Conqueror Charioteer Chieftain Challenger 1 Challenger 2 Challenger 3 (Obviously initially it was “C” for “Cruiser” Tank (“I” and Light tanks had varied names like Matilda and Valentine and Tetrach and American imports had various General names like Sherman and Grant, while mobile… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_826313)
5 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Nice list 👍

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_826328)
3 hours ago
Reply to  Dern

Check out the SAAB Barracuda camouflage system available to AJAX.

Malcrf
Malcrf (@guest_825801)
2 days ago

If we’re going to produce 400+ tanks under license why not the K2 Black Panther rather than the Leopard? Our Polish allies are acquiring rather a lot of them.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_825806)
2 days ago

After a seat on the board Mr Crawford?🤔

Baz Melody
Baz Melody (@guest_825813)
2 days ago

I’m no tank expert at all, but having worked in military logistics for most of my adult life. The procurement process is woefully slow and bogged down in bureaucracy, that along with requirement changes after the contract has been signed is a major weakness. I agree that 148 tanks is not enough should we have a requirement to deploy and engage. This along with not enough aircraft and ships will be the undoing of this country I fear. Unless the government (find out on 05 Jul 24) invest in military properly then the front line troops will be the ones… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_825817)
2 days ago

Ch2 has not been used much- a handful to Bosnia and then @ 120 in Iraq. Why are any of the vehicles in such poor condition that they are unsuitable for jrebuild? The Ch3 will reach FOC in 2030. It’s likely subsequent service life won’t be very long. It would have been better and probably cheaper to have stuck with BAEs less radical Black Knight proposal and upgraded all available hulls to provide a proper reserve. For future designs, we do need a sovereign afv capability. Since the private sector has failed to sustain one, we may have to copy… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_825819)
2 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Its.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_825830)
2 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

The issue with Black Knight was that it kept the 120mm Rifled Gun – the MOD must have thought that the Rheinmetall proposal was worth going the extra mile for.

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_826108)
1 day ago
Reply to  Paul T

The L30 gun was perfectly adequate against any likely opposition. Slightly inferior armour penetration out to 2km but more accurate at longer range. No real need to change it before a completely new design MBT is considered.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_826156)
22 hours ago
Reply to  Peter S

The L30 was a developmental Dead End – sourcing Ammunition was getting increasingly difficult so going 120mm Smooth Bore was the logical solution.

Dern
Dern (@guest_826246)
15 hours ago
Reply to  Paul T

This. Keeping the L30 going would have required a lot of investment into R and D to keep it competative, and investment in our ammunition production chains.

Going to Rh120 was the sensible option.

DJ
DJ (@guest_825916)
1 day ago
Reply to  Peter S

Private sector won’t sustain a capability unless you pay it to do so. When was the last time UK ordered a new build tank? Not even an handful a year to keep the factory open. And no, Ajax is not a tank. It’s not even an IFV. Not actually sure what it is (I know what it was supposed to be), or why anyone should have thought it was worth achieving, but rest assured, it’s not a tank. Boxer isn’t either, but throw a CMI turret on it & you can probably get away with it. At least with Boxer,… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_825973)
1 day ago
Reply to  DJ

Ajax is a Reconnaissance AFV.

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_826109)
1 day ago
Reply to  DJ

Exactly so, ( though I don’t understand your comment re Ajax which I didn’t mention)hence my suggestion that a state owned facility is necessary. The proposed KDNS/Leonardo plan to build new Leopards in Italy has fallen apart because KDNS won’t offer enough technology transfer. KDNS is 50% Nexter, owned by the French government. So France has retained its sovereign capability and Italy, though better placed than UK, now has to regenerate tank construction from scratch.

Pacman27
Pacman27 (@guest_825829)
2 days ago

Boxer tracked is the answer to this problem
as it’s wider it can take more armour + APS should give it enough protection.

use the latest weight saving tech from kf51 & Abraham’s X and we have a solution

hybrid drive is a must & is perfect for tracks isn’t it?

as for basing this in Scotland, that’s a silly idea when we have a factory in wales, which can also do with some levelling up

Last edited 2 days ago by Pacman27
Mark B