The British Army’s new Challenger 3 main battle tank showcased its firepower for the first time during live-firing trials in Germany.

Footage released by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) displayed the tank’s capabilities, highlighting the performance of its new 120mm smoothbore gun.

The trials, conducted at Rheinmetall ranges in Germany, are part of the tank’s evaluation to meet NATO Reference Standards for its new armament and ammunition. According to RBSL, “The trials are being conducted to ensure consistency with NATO standards for the 120mm smoothbore gun and ammunition.”

The Challenger 3, developed from existing Challenger 2 tanks by the British/German joint venture Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land, features an all-new turret and an improved hull. The most significant change is the replacement of the Challenger 2’s 120mm rifled barrel with the 120mm L55A1 smoothbore gun, enhancing its firepower and ensuring compatibility with other NATO tanks.

The Challenger 3 is a key component of the British Army’s modernisation agenda. It will be equipped with advanced armour, an Active Protection System (APS), and state-of-the-art technology. These upgrades are designed to enhance its lethality and survivability, making it one of Europe’s most advanced tanks.

RBSL stated, “The Challenger 3 will be central to the British Army’s Armoured Brigade Combat Teams, alongside Ajax and Boxer, and is critical to the Army’s warfighting capability and the UK’s contribution to NATO deterrence.”

The first pre-production Challenger 3 was completed in Telford in January 2024. The Royal Armoured Corps is expected to receive 148 of these tanks, which will remain in service until at least 2040.

The development of the Challenger 3 began with improvements to the Challenger 2 under the Capability And Sustainment Programme (CSP) initiated in 2005. Due to funding issues, the programme was reorganised in 2014 into the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP). In 2019, BAE Systems and Rheinmetall merged their British operations, leading to the formation of RBSL and the subsequent development of the Challenger 3.

The new tank’s 120mm smoothbore gun is an upgraded version of the L55 gun used on the Leopard 2A6/A7 family of tanks. This change aligns the Challenger 3 with other NATO main battle tanks, allowing for commonality in ammunition and logistics.

The live-firing trials in Germany, which began in April 2024, are a significant milestone in the Challenger 3’s development.

The footage shows the tank firing its main gun and using a smokescreen, demonstrating its operational capabilities.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jacko
Jacko (@guest_819015)
5 days ago

Goodo just more of them please HMG🤞

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_819019)
5 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

Don’t say that we’ll only get half a dozen😂

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_819105)
4 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

Tell them Jacko 🤗 🇬🇧

Ron
Ron (@guest_819057)
4 days ago

One question, the gun. Is the smooth bore 120mm as good as the rifled 120mm over distance? Apart from that I really would like to see 224 CH3s in four front line units and a further 56 in reserve, training and repair meaning an overall total of 280 CH3s. Surely for the UK that is not to much. Combined with five Regt’s each of three Battalions (15 Battalions) each Battalion is made up of three fighting companies, one heavy weapons company and a HQ company of armoured infantry. Each Armoured Infantry Company would have 9x Ajax 40mm gun and 18x… Read more »

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_819062)
4 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Enter Daniele, stage left…..

Fen Tiger
Fen Tiger (@guest_819088)
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

Exit stage right?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_819336)
4 days ago
Reply to  Fen Tiger

😂

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_819335)
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

😂 Only just found this, been on nights mate.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_819339)
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian M

I enjoy Ron’s ORBATS mate, he has posted several over the years. Having read Dern’s critique on the realities I would have little to say, or add, beyond, as always, pointing out the missing CS CSS, which exist currently for just 4 Brigades.
Which Dern has covered already.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_819429)
4 days ago

Way outside my scope of interest, which is where you and the ither guys come in👍

Dern
Dern (@guest_820076)
1 day ago

Just want to highlight that Ron’s plan would require:
Challenger 2: 280 (+140)
Ajax: 405 (+160)
Ares: 810 (+717 pretending it can carry 6 dismounts)
M10 Booker 105: 45 (+45)
M10 Booker 50: 90 (+90)
Infantry: 9,255(assuming 50pax in HQ Coy) (+5630)
RAC:~3,600 (+800)
MLRS: 36 (-36)
K9(?): 72 (+72)
RLC No change
REME No change
RAMC No change

And that’s just the uplift 3 UK Div would get.

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_819108)
4 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Re the gun- the answer is no. The accuracy of the smoothbore falls away over@2000m. For anti tank operation up to 2000m, this is offset by greater armour penetration thanks to the higher muzzle velocity and longer rod in the one piece ammunition. Some time ago I found ( can’t find it now ) an article detailing the capabilities of modern tank guns. The differences between the L20 and Rheinmetall did not seem enough to justify the change. So I assume commonality of ammunition was the deciding factor .

Peter S
Peter S (@guest_819109)
4 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Typo L30.

Dern
Dern (@guest_819252)
4 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Okay at some point I might come back and talk about the Smoothbore, but: I’m going to pick apart your orbat a little bit. First of all: British Regiments don’t work like that. Regiments are either administrative formations, not combat formations, in the case of Infantry, or Battalions in the case of Cavalry or Artillery. British Units are not combined arms, let alone Sub-units, instead they form battlegroups as needed. Generally speaking most British Army Infantry Regiments do not have all their Battalions in the same role in order to allow personnel to rotate between roles over their career and… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_820346)
14 minutes ago
Reply to  Ron

Technically for now, a rifled gun is more accurate than a smoothbore. As the spin helps maintain the projectile’s minute of angle (MOA) (accuracy) due to the gyroscopic spin. However, over distance the Earth’s spin affects this and the MOA starts to get wider. This is no different to long distance target shooting using a rifle.. Without the spin induced by the barrel’s rifling. A projectile fired from a smoothbore requires fins to maintain its stability through weather cocking. Which is where the drag of the fins causes the projectile to limit its weaving. The additional drag of the fins… Read more »

Deltadec1
Deltadec1 (@guest_819459)
3 days ago

I would have thought that keeping secrets from the world about what we have in our military firepower should be a game changing so that the enemy’s from other countries don’t know what we have.