Chieftain MBT Main Battle Tank
The Chieftain Main Battle Tank saw many years of solid service with British forces while export sales were primarily with Middle East customers.
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The original Centurion Main Battle Tank (A41) of 1945 was a hugely successful British Army initiative enacted during World War 2 and realized shortly after the conflict had ended. The type saw service in the Korean War under the banner of the United Nations and went on to see extensive action in both Indo-Pak wars. Additional service saw them in the hands of the Israeli Army during the Six Day War and the upcoming Yom Kipper War where the type gave a good account of itself. In all, some 4,400 units were ultimately produced (strong production numbers for a Cold War tank) and these served well beyond the British Army inventory, seeing service with European powers as well as Middle East players. At the time of her inception, the Chieftain marked the most powerful Western combat tank in existence until unseated by the equally excellent German Leopard 2 series of the 1980s.
Despite the Centurion's dominance, the Cold War battlefield was an ever-evolving chessboard of technology-driven pieces and this produced ever more efficient weaponry in the process. As such, the impressive nature of once-formidable tanks such as the Centurion soon began to give way to new anti-armor measures being developed and fielded primarily by the Soviet Union - to which many of these weapons would inevitably be passed on to allies and satellite states within time. Work therefore began on finding the "next British Army main battle tank" and this led to a Leyland-designed tracked vehicle mounting the new and powerful L11 120mm series rifled main gun. Whereas historical approaches to British armor valued speed and battlefield mobility above all else, the Leyland submission decidedly focused on a heavily armored vehicle with firepower to boot. By 1959, a pilot vehicle was ready for formal review leading to the evaluation of six more prototypes spanning from 1961 to 1962. The vehicle - known as the "FV 4201" - was adopted for service in May of 1963 with service beginning in 1965. Production was managed along two separate assembly lines and eventually included the Leyland and Vickers brand labels.