Work to prepare Challenger 2 tanks before the upgrade to ‘Challenger 3’ has started.

DE&S say that the British Army’s Challenger 2 fleet is due to receive a base overhaul as part of its standard in-service maintenance schedule.

“This will be followed by a series of automotive upgrades under a ‘Heavy Armour Automotive Improvement Programme’ (HAAIP) which ensures the British Army’s Challenger 2 vehicles remain highly effective and capable until Challenger 3 enters service. The HAAIP programme is being led by DE&S, with engineering work completed by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) and integration work by Babcock.

Under the programme, a number of automotive upgrades will be made to existing in-service Challenger 2 tanks to increase their mobility and stability, both of which are critical to providing the foundation for the new turret and systems that will upgrade the vehicle to a Challenger 3. The upgrades will also ensure the tanks remain mobile and agile in the battlespace.”

Brigadier Anna-Lee Reilly, Head of the DE&S Vehicle Support Team, was quoted as saying:

“This is an exciting moment for Defence. We’ve been committed to keeping the Challenger 2 tanks in service over the past 23 years and we’re looking forward to using our expertise to manage the necessary upgrades to pave the way for the Challenger 3.”

As part of the base overhaul process, each Challenger 2 will be stripped to bare hulls and subjected to ultrasonic inspection, weld repair and repainting. Every component is removed and inspected for serviceability to ensure that the vehicle is as close to new as possible when it is rebuilt.

What upgrades will Britain’s ‘Challenger 3’ tanks get?

According to the British Army, the overhaul will include:

  • a new 120mm smoothbore gun which uses the most advanced globally available ammunition
  • a new suite of sights providing tank commanders with enhanced day and night targeting abilities
  • new modular armour
  • Trophy active protection system
  • a turret that can be fitted to the tanks of allies and global partners

You can read more about the contract to upgrade the tanks here.

Contract awarded to RBSL for 148 ‘Challenger 3’ tanks

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Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
6 days ago

I do wonder why there has been no mention of an upgraded commander’s weapon station- we seem to be the only developed nation not to have one on our MBTs.

Ron5
Ron5
6 days ago
Reply to  Ian Skinner

It’s been announced that Ch3 will have a new FCS featuring all kinds of goodies.

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

cheers

Johan
Johan
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian Skinner

That’s part of the Turret Upgrade, this work does the work required to the turret ring for the swap of the new Turret

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
6 days ago

The name “Challenger *3*” really gets my back up

David A
David A
6 days ago

Changed to “Challenger three”. Better than a Ghia!

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
6 days ago
Reply to  David A

I suppose Deluxe was quite popular when they were first built.

Dern
Dern
6 days ago

I feel like this allays some of the “It’s only a Challenger 2a/2.5/2 MkII” complaints, okay it won’t be a completely brand new vehicle, but it will be as close as possible.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
6 days ago
Reply to  Dern

That’s my take as well.

In my world a T23 built in the 90s is nothing like the ones steaming around today.
After the refits, overhauls , capability insertions and new equipment fits they are a totally different beast.
They should have renamed them T24!
Imagine the furore that would have generated!

Dern
Dern
6 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Sounds like the Type 32 😀
At the end of the day I think some people just get too uptight over a name.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
6 days ago

Does anyone know what’s going to happen to all the remaining (70+?) tanks that won’t get the upgrade? Will they be kept as a backup in a big shed somewhere as spares?

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
6 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Ideally, find the extra money and upgrade them too….. but hopefully not scrapped

Nath
Nath
6 days ago

Once the first batch has been done and proven, the army should take the works in-house and slowly modify the remaining inventory over the years. Doesn’t need to be done quickly and I’m sure the army could do the procurement and fit out cheaper than the contractor once the creases have been ironed out of the process.

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
6 days ago
Reply to  Nath

I agree, we should be at least be looking at having some in reserve.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
6 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

To reserve I think, but will eventually get scrapped

maurice10
maurice10
6 days ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

If no one is looking, maybe the remaining machines can be hidden away in the many sheds and hangers at the Army’s disposal? 148 is so painfully small, which leaves the Army wanting if it gets embroiled in a land conflict. I feel sure some 2’s will be retained to cover the possibility of battlefield losses?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
5 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Yes, let’s hope so. I’d like to see 160-200 fully upgraded new tanks with spares just in case. The more you have the more fronts you can potentially engage in and be a bigger support to our allies. Does anyone know why 148?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

More fronts?

Not any more. There are only 3 Armoured Regiments now, and that was already planned to reduce to 2 with the Strike Brigade fiasco.

With 2 Armoured Regiments,1 per Armoured Brigade ( or HBCT as it’s called this week) we lack the units to put more in.

148 furnishes 50 odd per regiment and leaves some spare and some at BATUS and at the Armour Centre at Bovington.

I’d prefer the army get more aviation, ISTAR, artillery, and SHORAD to more Tanks.

Or extra enablers from the R Signals and Royal Engineers.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
5 days ago

Morning Daniele, from Sydney, I guess battlefront scenarios are evolving and we need to adapt to that but having a strategic reserve of an asset like tanks of say 50, wouldn’t that be sensible for the UK? We’re still a global player and if called on and our LRGs are deployed in multiple locations they may need to have some back up tank stocks to sustain them. Maybe I’m over imagining. I’m absolutely no expert, just interested in how they come to these rather odd numbers. We do work more in coalition these days, which is a good thin and… Read more »

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

We bought 408 CR2s as I recall, so in declaring 227 tanks it means that 181 have been in storage for many years, most of them are probably ‘Christmas trees’.
148 is two Type 56 regiments plus 36 for the training organisation and an Attrition Reserve.

Johan
Johan
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Dont Forget there are Challenger 2s at training grounds around the world. there not all UK Based

Johan
Johan
4 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

The Word was the best of the rest will be stored, and the old bangers will be scrapped.
If there is spare money and numbers can be increased they will. BUT ammunition is going to be an issue.

Ahms
Ahms
10 minutes ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Knowing our wise leaders they will probably all get sold to the Americans for the princely sum of one pound each and used as target practice in America for their M1 tanks. Im joking off course but I dont underestimate the stupidity of the people that make up our government.

Peter S
Peter S
6 days ago

I’m still not convinced the change of main gun is really necessary. Better to have stuck with BAEs more modest proposal and upgraded the entire fleet to that standard. 148 does not allow much for losses and hopes of supplementing heavy armour with Ajax are not looking promising.

Mike
Mike
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

The upgrade from rifled to smooth bore guns is important. Armoured Piercing ammunition, fired from the latter has a much higher muzzle velocity, and so increased armour defeating affect. We can also make use of a much wider range of ammunition types than with our own, UK only rifled main gun.

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
6 days ago
Reply to  Mike

I heard that the decision was based on the fact that we aren’t making ammunition anymore and we don’t want the cost of having to design and make new ones ourselves.

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
6 days ago
Reply to  Tomartyr

For that very reason It makes sense to standardise on NATO ammo.

Dern
Dern
6 days ago
Reply to  Tomartyr

It’s a little of both. Ammunition for the Smoothbore gun has seen a lot of development in the last 30 years, while rifled ammunition, well, hasn’t. Combine that with the cost of running a ammunition production line that can only sell to the UK, and you have a gun that’s now become less effective and more expensive to maintain than the smoothbore equivalent.

Peter S
Peter S
6 days ago
Reply to  Mike

I did find a site that had a comprehensive comparison of the range and armour penetration of various tank guns. Mainly because of the longer rod in the smoothbore round, the penetrative power was greater at most ranges. The difference was minimal if the rifled round used du rather than tungsten. Offsetting this, the rifled gun was much more accurate at longer range when firing HE rounds. It seems possible that UK will have to write off the£3 b already spent on Ajax and fund an alternative. If that happens then the money now allocated to the new turret and… Read more »

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

I don’t see why the MoD does not direct GD UK to rework Ajax to acceptable standard or sue them for Liquidated Damages.

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
6 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Indeed if we are ever embroiled in tank battles then we will be doing so with allies and being able to exchange ammunition would be invaluable bo doubt especially as we will be fighting in others backyard bot ours.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  Mike

The gun’s muzzle velocity was not the overriding factor, nor the lack of manufacturers. It was primarily due to the dart’s length within the CHARM’s APFSDS, which had reached a physical limit. The sabot is rammed in the chamber followed by the bag charge. The bag does not envelop the dart’s fins. Therefore, the dart cannot be made any longer or more propellent used, without the sabot actually entering a lot more of the barrel. Whereas, one piece ammo allows for a dart that is nearly 1m long as the propellent within the cartridge envelops the dart’s tail and fins.… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Tend to agree if value for money was the only criterion. But building a relationship with Rheinmetall keeps UK PLc in contact with development of the next generation of European main battle tank.

Peter S
Peter S
6 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I’m not unhappy with the upgrade though would prefer larger numbers. I also guess that because this project is fitting an existing proven turret and gun, we will avoid the shambles of Warrior and Ajax.
Before we have to build the next generation of afvs, we really need to resurrect our sovereign capability so we are not almost wholly dependent on foreign suppliers.

Paul.P
Paul.P
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

Well we would all like to see greater numbers. I think the French have got the CT40 turret to work on the vehicles they have built. I read somewhere that we decided not to take the gun in vanilla format but to reroute the ammo feed to make better use of space in the turret. In fairness HM Gov is trying to rebuild sovereign capability in armoured vehicles but are making hard work of it since they are following the principle of ‘anyone but BAe’. Why make things easy when you can make them difficult eh? No fun in that..

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

How is HMG rebuilding Sovereign capability in AFV design and manufacture?

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham

They are trying…jobs in Stockport and Telford. I know it’s not much. They are making it difficult for themselves by shutting out BAE. What my grandmother would call cutting off your nose to spite your face …mind you having said that if we had bought Cv90 for example where would it have been built?

Last edited 4 days ago by Paul.P
Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter S

BAE is our sovereign AFV capability. They took over the 5 former AFV companies. Pity though that they got rid of the new tank factories at Leeds and Newcastle due to lack of orders a decade or two ago.

Mike
Mike
6 days ago

This is good news, CR2 was slow and outdated. It struggled when compared with our NATO allies tanks, and potential adversary nations. CR3 should under the current plan be a great MBT.

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Confident prediction, Chally 3 cancelled after £600 million spent in the 2025 SDSR, who wants a wager??

Do I have any offers over £600, roll up, roll up…..

Ron5
Ron5
6 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Rubbish. Cr2 over rough ground is the fastest tank out there.

Mike
Mike
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Sorry, but you are incorrect Ron. I have been to international tank competitions, firing on ranges both static, and on the move over rough ground. Competing against the French, US, Spanish, and Germans. Our CR2’s were the slowest MBTs taking part.

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Which tank competitions are those? I too thought CR2 was very fast over the ground

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
6 days ago
Reply to  Mike

I don’t see how anyone can say CH2 is outdated when a majority of tanks in the world are T-72s / T62s and T55s

Rob N
Rob N
6 days ago

You are outdated if your potential rival has a more modern tank. The T14 is potentially the adversary of the CH as such tanks would spearhead an attack.

If you do not keep ahead of your foe you are just target practice.

Nate M
Nate M
5 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

would really say they are gonna spear head a Russian tank rush considering they only have about a 100. but yes your right we need to look out for small pockets where they may be hiding.

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
5 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

Yes, I understand that but my point is the MOD seems to be in a rush to reduce CH2 numbers, quoting obsolescence as one reason, but I don’t see the countries that field huge numbers of T72s, T55s, or even M48s doing the same.

Whilst CH2 is not the most modern tank anymore, it is still a very good tank, its combat record proves that. We were foolish to withdraw/scrap ANY of them, we should have kept and upgraded them all while looking to design the next generation.

Rob N
Rob N
5 days ago

Agree, I wish we could upgrade all the CH2s to CH3 but we have not got the funds. We however should keep some CH2 in storage as reserves. We should also work on a future tank design…

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
5 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

Yes, even mothballed in a big back shed somewhere. Agree with you.

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

We’ve done that before. We bought 408 CR2s so we already have 181 in mothballs, albeit many now probably stripped for spares.

Graham
Graham
5 days ago

MoD has reduced CR2 numbers several times over the years. I believe we originally bought 408. Reason for latest reduction to148 (CR3) seems to be to provide structural and financial headroom for Strike.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

I wouldn’t say it’s the T14, but more the upgraded T90. Though based on the old T72 chassis, it has had a lot of lessons learnt built into it from the T72s fighting in the Gulf wars and more lately with the T90s being used in Syria. This is especially true with regards to the use of explosive reactive armour. The 2nd gen Kontakt-5 was designed to counter the US “silver bullet” depleted uranium APFSDS rounds. That was used so effectively against Iraqi T72s. This is being replaced by the 3rd gen Relikt ERA, that is supposed to be even… Read more »

Rob N
Rob N
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Yes I hope the new CH3 turret has enough upgrade space for 130/140 future upgrade. Also with such heavy shells an auto-loader would be essential.

DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

Yes, for the larger one piece rounds they will have to use an autoloader. The 130mm Rhinemetall rounds are 1.3m long. Besides the weight, a loader wouldn’t be able to grab one from a ready rack then turn it through 180 degrees to feed it into the breech. The system used by the Leclerc is now a solid and dependable system. France have used a modified version of it for the Leclerc armed with the 140mm gun.

Simon m
Simon m
3 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

I think it should be fine with the 130mm Rheinmetall have already done it

rheinmeta_1596198819.jpg
Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Wondering if NATO could develop a cannon or artillery round that causes large areas of the Reactive armor to detonate all at once and leave the tank vulnerable to Sabot again.

DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago

It’s technically already possible. A standard 155mm HE shell striking the tank’s explosive reactive armour (ERA) would activate some of the modules, due to either direct contact or from the resulting pressure wave. Leaving these areas vulnerable to a armour piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS)(Fin) round. The Challenger’s HESH round can do this. As it’s a low velocity shell, it doesn’t always immediately detonate ERA. The newer Relikt and Malachit ERA was designed to cope/activate with low velocity rounds/shells. HESH is basically a shell shaped lump of C4 plastic explosive, with a fuse in the back. When it hits… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Davey methinks you are the Gunbuster of the land domain mate….always good info cheers.

DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

My cousin is REME and has worked Challengers for years. Also one of my mates was a Squadron commander for the Scots a while back, before he time-ex’d. I’m more engineering but have played at infanteering and JSAT, found out I was ok at it.

Airborne
Airborne
4 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Ah I see, I get a bit of info from family also, from my young bro who is 7RHA, just considering an LE commision and my grumpy older bro was 4/7 RDG in detmold late 80s, early 90s. On the occasion I managed to get over there and have a root about in a Chieftan it made me realise I made the right choice…..tanks, far to dangerous mate lol

Jacko
Jacko
4 days ago
Reply to  Mike

From what I can gather the hydro gas suspension gives a much smoother ride than torsion bar suspension.giving a more stable platform all round.
What gunnery competitions have we missed then?

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
6 days ago

Reducing our tank strength down to 148 vehicles, makes you wonder if its worth the upgrade. Tanks aren’t quite obsolete yet. Might have been better to buy 400 latest Leopards marks and still have a credible armoured force.

Ron5
Ron5
6 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Yes, 400 brand new tanks would be so much more affordable (eyes roll).

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Affordable – not a major concern. 148 will be a waste of money if they don’t give a credible armoured force and are walked over by Vlads tanks. Getting beaten in a war is a major cost. Like we never lose a war….oh wait a minute!! If the government can afford billions on overseas aid, it can afford a capable army. That’s where I want my tax money going.

Airborne
Airborne
6 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Let our European NATO allies concentrate on larger Armoured formations and we provide both the lighter and more niche capabilities. They are landlocked, and Poland is an excellent example of a country understanding the threat and rearming accordingly. Yes we do need an armoured divisional structure to keep us in the game and to ensure we have a rounded capability, but such large numbers aren’t required, in my view, at this time. However threats change and we need to be able to change/counter those variables. Cheers.

Ron
Ron
5 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

I agree, I have argued and will keep arguing that the main fighting force of the Army should be based on a main battle tank div and two divs of a modern Alvis CVR (T). The infantry would be what I call heavy infantry such as the Guards. That would give a fighting strength of 36,000 troops. That then leaves the light infantry/ranger units with Boxer. I think the RAF Regt and the RM could also get Boxer. As for the Paras possibly a modern version of something like the old German Wiesel could be of use. That should keep… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
5 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Correct mate we need a balanced force, with a full range of capabilities.

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Three deployable divisions! That sounds good, but surely that amounts to more than 36,000 troops? Could a recce vehicle such as your new CVR(T) really act as the mainstay of two divisions – such small vehicles, so little firepower.

Ron
Ron
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Graham, maybe things have changed but I have alway used 10,000 troops for a division, three divisions form a Corp and three Corps form a field Army. I suppose those numbers have increased a bit due to extra things like support troops R.Sigs/REME etc. So that is why I suggest 12,000 per div. As for the two light divisions with a upgraded CVR(T) concept family, the light tank could have a 90mm/100mm gun, the recce tank a 40mm gun, a version with anti tank missiles another with anti air defence, further still the tracked APC, command and control etc. We… Read more »

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Depends heavily, extremely heavily on the Division, for Example A, US Army Infantry division 1942 9x Infantry Battalions in 3 Regiments. 3x 105mm Artillery Batteries. 1x 155mm Artillery Battery. Supporting Units Example B, Italian Infantry Division 1942 4x Infantry Battalions in 2 Regiments 2x 75mm Artillery batteries Supporting units. Example C, German Motorised Division 1943 6x Infantry Battalions in 3 Regiments 3x 105mm Artillery Battalions 1x 150mm Artillery Battalion 1x Tank Destroyer Battalion 1x Recce Battalion Supporting Units. Example D, British Armoured Division 1943 4x Armoured Regiments in 2 Brigades 6x Infantry Battalions in 3 Brigades 3x 25lber Artillery Regiments… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Agreed.

Nate M
Nate M
5 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

ah yes lets use tanks to fight a sea battle because at the end of the day an island totally needs tanks to protect it self.

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
5 days ago
Reply to  Nate M

We need a good balance of all forces relying on just the Navy alone is complacent and assumes it cannot be defeated.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  Nate M

Why fight on you own door step, when you can take the fight to him?

Airborne
Airborne
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Correct Davey, as pre-emptive offensive action is all part of a well prepared defence. Any military that sits and takes it, with no effective plans or equipment for offensive action, and who gives the enemy the initiatve continuously will lose every single time.

Ron
Ron
4 days ago
Reply to  Nate M

Nate, yes we are an island, but I do remember reading I think it was Jackie Fisher who said the biggest weapon the Royal Navy has is the Army, they can throw it ashore anywhere in the world and the potential enemy would not know where the RN will strike.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  Nate M

Since we invented the tank it has never been used to actively defend the homeland – it has always been used on expeditionary operations.

Johan
Johan
4 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Go Goggle a cost per unit of a NEW MBT, without support and suddenly you will realise that a New MBT is not practicle if we could afford 400 new we would be upgrading the entire Fleet of CH2s to 3s with Gold plated armour over an imported pile

Steve R
Steve R
6 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

I agree but that ship has sadly sailed and we lack funding for an armoured force of 400 tanks any more. That decision should have been made 20+ years ago.

Dern
Dern
6 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

Why? 400 Leopards would be way more expensive than upgrading an existing CR2 fleet, and wouldn’t give you much of a capability lift (plus you’d then have to factor in the cost of re-tuning your entire support structure to a completely new chassis).
It’s the same argument as with getting the M4. Yes you could, but at this point the capability upgrade compared to simply upgrading the L85 is negligible, so you might as well save until the next big step change (eg 130mm) becomes available.

DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago
Reply to  Dern

With the A2 and now A3 upgrades. The only issue with the L85 is it’s ergonomics, which can be overcome through repetitive training. The L85 has 100m more effective range than the M4 carbines. Plus the M4s only fire in bursts, whereas the L85 can go full auto. This isn’t so critical in the field, but when house clearing it’s a godsend.

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Well, the M4 doesn’t only fire in bursts, there are plenty of versions that have fully automatic (including the C8’s used by the British Armed Forces, and the US Army’s M4A1), it’s really just a matter of removing the lower receiver and fitting one that has a fully automatic assembly. Also while I usually defend the L85’s ergonomics as being not nearly as bad as (usually accustomed to AR-15 layout) people complain, I also don’t think it’s accuracy is that much better than an M4, certainly I never noticed much difference between what I can hit when firing and M4/C8… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes, I appreciate that the C8 and M4 comes in different flavors. But the standard US Army issue M4 only has a 3 round burst mode.

Having used the L85A2, M4 and HK416 in combat. I can categorically state that the L85 is the most effective and accurate above 300m especially with the ACOG when compared to the M4 carbine and the HK with the 16” barrel that I used in Afghan. The HK I had was perfect for the mission I was on at the time.

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

But what the standard US Army variant comes in is about as relevant to the advantages an M4 would bring to the British Army as a comparison between cheese and a FAMAS.

Cool, you’re anecdotal evidence says one thing, mine says another, and there are no official studies that have shown that the L85 is any more accurate than an M4. You sure you zeroed your M4 properly?

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes absolutely. The M4 had the 16” barrel just like the HK’s. The A2 has a 20” barrel. The extra 4” makes all the difference for 5.56mm distance shooting due to a combination of increased muzzle velocity, the bullet’s ballistic coefficient and the additional rifling twist. I’d still say that up to 300m the L85 will produce a tighter grouping, but the other two rifles will be close. From 300m the longer barrel of the L85 helps its accuracy to 400m. Much further and the bullets is affected more by external factors and will wander from the aim point. The… Read more »

Dern
Dern
3 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I’ve heard this one sooo many times, and have never seen an empirical study (ie someone fixing both an M4 and an L85 in place to take the shooter out of the equation and running a repeatable test, and documenting it) to back it up, just anecdotal evidence. At any rate, current US ammunition is designed to take advantage of the shorter M4 barrel, so I suspect you’ll see that the L85’s often touted accuracy advantage has decreased in recent years.

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Me to, my lot only had access to Canadian, French and UK ammo. From my experiences on the range and in conflict. I found the L85 to be more accurate. It may be that I’ve used it more than the others, so my muscle memory and cognitive thoughts are harmonized with it. I would still pick the HK over it though for ergonomics.

JohnF
JohnF
6 days ago

Maybe it is a worthwhile upgrade, but with only 148 tanks? This just confrims that we are not seeriously expecting to go against a neer peer enemy as we would be massively outnumbered. Maybe spend the money on more medium tanks/troop tranport and artillery ( we are short of all this kit.) Maybe having a small poorly equipped Army it will result in a lack of future miltary “adventures” in foreign countries, which would be a good thing.

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  JohnF

It’s sufficient for two Brigades of Armour with 50 tanks each. One at readiness to deploy at short notice and one at lower readiness, training etc. The rest will be Bovington / Canada training assets with the balance in maintenance. As the technology content rises, frequent counter obsolescence upgrades and updates will become the norm, so a good number of Chally3 will probably be ‘under maintenance’ at any one time. What conclusion can you draw from the above ? I would conclude we will only provide a single reinforced brigade (robbing tanks and combat ready personnel from the second for… Read more »

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
6 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

We are only ever going to be a minority player in any main tank battles on the European front its just a fact of strategic and geographical life. The more we can add to the equation great but its never going to be the decisive factor in any European war.

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  spyintheskyuk

I would have to agree, far more likely to be deployed in South Korea, Taiwan etc in the 2030’s….

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  spyintheskyuk

Why focus on a European war. Since 1945 our tanks have been used many times on kinetic operations which were anywhere but Europe.

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  JohnF

We do our high intensity fighting with Allies. It’s not just us against the Russians.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
2 days ago
Reply to  JohnF

We would never go up against a near-peer enemy alone – we fight within coalitions of the willing, be they NATO or US-led or whatever.
You advocate abandoning expeditionary operations, which, if anything, are more likely under the ‘Global Britain’ remit.

John Hampson
John Hampson
6 days ago

I understand the program will cost £800 million. For that money the UK could buy 160 +/- brand new Merkava IV tanks.
I am utterly convinced that the benefits to the overall UK economy and industrial base should be the critical factor in Defence spending decisions.
For instance, I would have supported the selection on BAE’s CV90, built at Newcastle rather than the American/Spanish/EU Ajax.
But in this case it may be that the operational advantages and probability of use swings the decision for Merkava.

Last edited 6 days ago by John Hampson
DaveyB
DaveyB
4 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

BAE stated right at the beginning of the Warrior upgrade that it would need a new turret. Funny that as they built and are the design authority for the vehicle. However, BAe have used the MoD as a cash cow for years, which is why they probably lost out to LM. I have been to Israel to see Merkava 3 and 4s. I really liked what I saw and talking to the crews they were really confident that the tank could match or better any of their neighbors tanks. The chassis though is quite dated as is the armour layout.… Read more »

John Hampson
John Hampson
3 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

DB. Would the Trophy system be able to deal with the type of anti-tank munitions that recently annilated Armenian armour?

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 days ago
Reply to  John Hampson

Yes technically. The Trophy system is designed to counter side, diving and top attacks. The Turkish supplied TB2 UAVs launched guided weapons at their targets, whilst the Israeli supplied Harop suicide drones are built for surveillance but are also packed with explosive, which then dived on to the target. Anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) are pretty fragile, so even if they’re ground or air launched, these missiles are susceptible to the impact of the Trophy’s tungsten cubes. The nose of these missile can contain optical/IR sensors along with an impact fuse. The cubes can shred these items making the missile inert.… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
3 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

” The chassis though is quite dated as is the armour layout. “

Merkava chassis have always been new at V3 and V4 number variant. I can’t imagine how you say the armour layout is dated when V4 it is the only tank in West with a good top attack armour layout.


DaveyB
DaveyB
2 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

From my perspective tanks that use a form of Horstman, Christie or torsion bar are all old hat, when compared to an active hydro-pneumatic one. There are several reasons for this. The active suspension is bolted to the outside of the tank’s chassis, thereby making it easy to maintain but also repair when damaged. When a tank that uses torsion bars is damaged by a large IED. The bars buckle and twist. This means you won’t be able to pull them out to replace, but have to cut them into manageable sections. This invariably means the turret has to be… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
2 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I am sorry DaveB but you just don’t know or are making a confusion with another tank. Merkava – no model use torsion bars but springs, it is all in exterior precisely to be easily repaired in field. The last version have more than 600mm travel. You can just look at side of Merkava photo or a model and look at its suspension and why it was made that way. Merkava – was the first tank to have modular armour to be easily replaced in field (version III), the modules are much easier to replace than Challenger armour. Put in… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 day ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yes I know what type of suspension a Merkava has. As it uses a form of Horstman suspension. The issue is that it is a passive reaction suspension. The tank’s forward engine placement was designed for additional frontal armour protection. The space in the rear used to house extra ammunition, supplies and a few troops. But the whole design was for crew safety. Rather than bailing out of tank through the turret hatches, the rear door means you bail whilst under cover. Like I said the tank is primarily designed to fight in and around urban areas. I know the… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
1 day ago
Reply to  DaveyB

In anterior post there was excuse of confusion, Now there isn’t.
Merkava was build to fight mostly soviet tanks under Arab countries at long range.

John Hampson
John Hampson
2 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

DB. Thank you for your excellent, informed post. It sounds as if tanks therefore still do have a future and the need to improve anti air defences and catch up on decades of negelect is imperative.

Peter wait
Peter wait
6 days ago

By the time the tank is in service it would only have a short service life, if we actively join the new Euro tank project these could be delivered in a similar time scale with 130 mm gun. ABRO only delivered 20 hulls a year with good management!

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter wait

Oh god no, please not another nightmare European project, it will be hugely expensive, with only 400 odd MBT’s produced…

Refurbished and fully upgraded M1A1’s will be ‘widely’ available by then in quantity, a fraction of the price and far cheaper to support and deploy.

The Poles have the right idea!

Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

M1A1 has poor survivability and a gas guzzling GT engine. No thanks!

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Poor survivability Graham, really, I would find that odd, considering the Americans have been using it for 35 years and still regularly upgrade and refurbish it, with no current plans to replace it either. The fuel issue is a problem, granted, but you can buy a lot of diesel for the billions we throw into a euro tank nightmare sized hole… The numbers just don’t add up regarding a new European MBT, especially with Europe’s number No1 Tank country Poland, not being interested. We would be looking at making about 600 tanks, factor in the tortured European development costs and… Read more »

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Poland hasn’t said it’s not interested in MGCS, in fact recently they re-affirmed that they are interested (although Germany and France want to develop it just between themselves, probably to keep it becoming a complicated black hole). But it isn’t expected until the mid-2030’s which is a long time to keep T-72s in service if you are Poland. At any rate, the UK, assuming we are giving up on our own native Tank industry (seeing as the CR3 is being made by Rheinmetal), probably has the best deal, being an observer and then buying MGCS off the shelf, instead of… Read more »

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

? Germany has produced nearly 4,000 Leopards, as long as they’re as successful at marketing a new 130mm tank, and there is no reason they shouldn’t be, 300 is a very, very low ball number. What’s the point of getting M1’s, they’re no better than Leo or Chally, it’s only an incremental step up, (Remember Poland is buying M1A2’s to replace their PT-91s (Which are to all intents and purposes T-72s) so their M1 and Leopard purchases are a significant upgrade for them). Rather than completely change chasses and incur lots of additional expense, better to spend less on an… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Hi Dern, Germany has produced a lot of MBT’s, absolutely. Here’s the problem, technology is rapidly overtaking the MBT, I suspect by 2030 the writing will be on the wall, systems like Spear3 and their even more capable successors, will render them very much a supporting asset, trundling along behind the missile and drone strikes to occupy ground and support infantry. The days of large set piece tank battles, so beloved by Cold War planners, are soon to be a thing of the past. If MBT’s survive past 2040 (and that’s a big if), they will be a niche capability,… Read more »

Dern
Dern
3 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

See, I’d agree with this, if it wasn’t for the fact that it was something that has been predicted off and on since the 1920’s by various parties. First it was man portable AT Rifles, then it was Airpower, then it was ATGM’s, now it’s drones. Sure in Azerbaijan drones where instrumental, just like in Chechnya infantry was, but in Donbass the Russians (sorry I of course mean Independent Donbass Army) and Ukrainian’s are still using MBT’s to great effect. IMO the lesson from Azerbaijan-Armenia is nothing new: Tanks on their own have been vulnerable since 1917, they need the… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by Dern
John Clark
John Clark
3 days ago
Reply to  Dern

You make a fair point regarding false predictions of the demise of the tank in the past Dern, but today systems like Spear3 will absolutely be the harbingers of doom for massed armour attacks. They will simply see a mass of targets, interpreted by their sensors and AI led algorithms, de-conflicting from each other, looking for key targets, ignoring 4×4’s and low value targets and wiping out MPT’s and artillery. Spear 3 will be here tomorrow, the next generation from 2035 will be even more effective. We have come a very long way since the boys anti tank rifle Dern.… Read more »

Dern
Dern
2 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

We’ve come a long way from the Boys anti-Tank rifle, MBT design has come a long way since the A9 Cruiser. It’s been an arms race since day 1 is my point. Of course Tanks operating alone against an enemy equipped with Spear 3 are going to be vulnerable, just as Tanks operating alone are vulnerable against Brimstone, or A-10, or man-portable ATGM’s. That’s kind of my point, MBT vulnerability to Air and Infantry attack is nothing new, that’s why they have to feature in a combined arms approach. In the case of Spear that means you need to pair… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
2 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Morning Dern, let’s step back and instead of an extreme 12 Typhoon, max loaded with 16 Spear3, to a realistic and totally doable ( in a few years) 8 F35b, with 8 Spear3 in clean stealth mode. Your hypothetical air defence system will be totally unaware of the F35’s as they break formation 250 miles away, encircling your armoured division. At approximately 50 miles each aircraft will release 8 Spear3, you now have 96 missiles winging their way in. Your air defences will more than likely only become aware of the missiles as they pop up to scan for targets… Read more »

Last edited 2 days ago by John Clark
Graham
Graham
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter wait

ABRO conducted Base Overhaul of tanks and other equipment. They were not a manufacturer.

Peter wait
Peter wait
4 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Babcock have not planned, ordered enough parts etc to deliver this project!

Last edited 4 days ago by Peter wait
Ulya
Ulya
6 days ago

Silly afternoon thought, seeing tank painted with UK flag made me think of tank biathlon (spelling correct?), never happen but would be fun to have a team from the UK join

julian1
julian1
6 days ago
Reply to  Ulya

military version of modern pentathlon:

  1. march and shoot
  2. pull a tank
  3. gun carriage run/re-assemble
  4. horse charge
  5. HALO into open water and swim to beach
Ulya
Ulya
6 days ago
Reply to  julian1

Sounds fun, not sure about pulling tank

julian1
julian1
6 days ago
Reply to  Ulya

I think you’d find some Scottish soldiers who would do that in their kilts and vests

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
6 days ago

Good news, but as everyone here is saying we could do with more than 148, so that we have some reserves.

So we originally had 386 Challenger 2s, reduced to 227 what happened to the other 159 ? were they scrapped or stored?

Last edited 6 days ago by Bringer of Facts
Paul T
Paul T
6 days ago

There is a difference of opinion on the fate of the surplus C2’s,some say they are in Storage, some say they were Scrapped / RTP’d.

Peter wait
Peter wait
6 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

40 were scrapped a few years ago, assume rest in Ashchurch in various states. Expensive to strip and cut them up, would be cheaper to dig a hole on Salisbury plain and concrete over the top

John Clark
John Clark
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter wait

I suppose if Chally3 is starting from a completely stripped refurbished hull, they can crack on with 148 in store…. They could be renovating the hulls now and back to store at Ashchurch until required for final assembly with the new components. They must have lots of spare power packs in store too, so they can crack on with upgrading and zero rating them, inhibit them, back to store and ready to reinstall down the road… Considering the small number, we must have enough in store to kick off the programme without touching the examples still in service. Or does… Read more »

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Honestly I’d love to see the remainder given to the Army Reserve, 2x Reserve units on CR2 and 2x Regular units on CR3 makes a lot of sense to me, especially since they do actually cost money to store.

It would mean in the even of a major conflict the Army could surge to double it’s tank fleet if needed.

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Makes sense Dern, but the future force structure will give us a pool of 100 frontline deployable MBT’s tops. The two active brigades will take turns at readiness, so in reality (unless it was a general war situation) we will probably deploy a single Brigade of 50. If the Americans really pushed us, we could mobilise a reinforced Brigade (using the combat ready crews) of the other Brigade and some of their Tanks to form a combat strength of 70, 80 at a push. When we moved down from 225 tanks and three Brigades, to 148 and two Brigades, MBT’s… Read more »

Dern
Dern
4 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

True, and while I’d like to have 3 Armoured brigades, the fact is the Navy and Airforce “won” this defence review, playing into the perception that wars can be won by dropping bombs on people and ignoring the reality that in the end you need boots on the ground.

But all the more reason to reform the Army Reserves, especially the Regular Reserve. A 100 full up Tank force in 2 Regular Brigades would be more palatable if you knew that number again was coming in 2 (albeit older) regiments of tanks manned by reserves.

Graham
Graham
5 days ago

Stored, not scrapped, but many are probably ‘Christmas trees’ ie stripped for spares.

Peter Crisp
Peter Crisp
6 days ago

It’s stupid question time again.
Could tanks be made out of carbon fibre?
It’d save literally most of the weight of the tank and possibly make it stealthy if that’s even a thing that tanks need?
Second stupid question is
Why do tanks seem to have problems with engines when surely a decent heavy truck engine would be super reliable and do the job just as well?

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

What happens when you fire a Kinetic penetrator or a HEAT round at a block of carbon fibre ?…. there is probably a known reason why this material is not used as armour plating.

My guess is that tank engines are engineered to be more resilient against use in tougher environments than truck engines.

Peter wait
Peter wait
6 days ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

vibration, shock loads, driving like hire cars ,intermittent use, OEM rebuild quality control and not warming up properly before use are some !

Nate M
Nate M
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

1) carbon fibre is pretty brittle. and i can see your point about stealth in tanks. (maybe so the aircrafts can’t spot them and lock on their missiles?).

2) wouldn’t be enough. current ch2 engine produces about 1200 bhp. a decently heavy truck engine produces about 600 bhp. the ch2 weighs 64 tons. now with its its current engine its 18.75 bhp per ton, with a truck engine its 9.375 bhp per ton which as you can see it half the amount of bhp’s.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  Nate M

Engine torque is the most important factor for a tank rather than outright horse power. The Perkins CV12 is a good engine but at 26.1L but the Leopard is 47.7L. As the saying goes there’s no replacement for cubes, or 3043 lbs ft vs 3500 lbs ft of torque. As the Leopard has the larger capacity engine the spread of torque will be over a wider area, whilst the smaller Perkins is over a narrower area. This means crucially the Leopard can accelerate faster. Therefore it can shoot and scoot from hide to hide faster. Even if the HAAIP program… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

I would suggest not. From past experience dealing with composite built aircraft that suffer small arms damage. Composites can be a blooming nightmare to repair compared to boring old Aluminium based alloys. Its really easy to patch over a hole with a plate that’s rivetted on. Whereas with a composite you have to cut out all the damaged area. Then “glue” in a new piece trying to blend the inner and outer surfaces. Then let it to set for at least 8 hours under a UV lamp. As a material carbon fibre and other composites do offer a weight saving… Read more »

Karl
Karl
6 days ago

Why do I smell another cost overun coming?

farouk
farouk
6 days ago

When I was in uniform we used to get hit with numerous mags one of which was a MOD mag called Desider DE&S news. which reported what was happening across the MOD. They have a website
https://des.mod.uk/desider-magazine/

Where you can access the mag via the net (Scroll down to the bottom and the interactive webpage) if you go down to the bottom you have acess to older issues.

Reason I mention this, is the above Chally 3 story was posted there a month ago.

Philip
Philip
6 days ago

Tough one reducing the tanks to 148 crystal ball is always going to be opaque when planning future defence needs perhaps the need to deal in covert operation is the future battle tanks like it predecessor the horse is diminishing in need.

Jayden
Jayden
5 days ago

shouldn’t we be focusing on air superiority. Doesn’t matter how many tanks the enemy has got with a few missiles you could stop a tank from advancing

Jason Holmes
Jason Holmes
5 days ago

Hope this doesn’t go the way of Warrior and AJAX

Jacko
Jacko
4 days ago
Reply to  Jason Holmes

No reason why it should, the turret has been developed and tested by RM,so it should be ready to go.

Jason
Jason
4 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

The warrior 40mm turret was also ready to go…

Jacko
Jacko
4 days ago
Reply to  Jason

Well obviously not as it didn’t work!
this turret has had all the R&D testing etc at RM expense so in their interests it has to to work as advertised.

Jeremy Ruse
Jeremy Ruse
5 days ago

I just wonder if we should fuss about MBTs trouble is we don’t have the infrastructure and logistics to unilaterally get these great big beasts anywhere. Thoughts?

Graham
Graham
5 days ago

Why will it take to 2030 for FOC for CR3? The tanks will need another upgrade in 9 years time. Industry is not trying hard enough.

Peter wait
Peter wait
2 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Testing of prototype to finalise build standard and overhauling 20+ hulls a year to drop new turret on.

Billythefish
Billythefish
4 days ago

They should just upgrade them all and then put 50% of them in long term preserved storage if they cannot ”afford” to man them all. At least that way we have the ability to surge numbers in case of a conflict.

The idea that we cannot ”afford” to rebuild them all is frankly a nonsense.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
4 days ago
Reply to  Billythefish

You have my vote in this. A good and sensible spend in contrast to Ajax.

Cripes
Cripes
4 days ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Yes indeed. Great that the upgrade is going ahead and it looks like a proper, thorough engineering upgrade. One big weak point on the Chally has been its underpowered engine, which limits speed and mobility. There were plans for a parallel development to replace the original Perkins CV-12 with a Caterpillar engine, increasing the bhp from 1,200 to 1,500, which would improve performance considerably, but that has suddenly gone quiet. Anyone know the score on this? Ref numbers, NATO needs to be able to field a heavy armoured corps to support the Polish army if push comes to shove. Germany… Read more »