Military Factory logo

Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank (MBT)

The Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank design was born from the aborted Iranian Shir 2 Main Battle Tank initiative following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

 Updated: 4/27/2017; Authored By Dan Alex; Content ¬©

The original combat "tank" was born out of the fighting that was World War 1. However, these were hardly representative of the vehicles that we know today to be "Main Battle Tanks". Within time, the "lozenge-shaped" vehicles of the First World War evolved to include cannon armament fitted to traversing turrets (the French FT-17 being a prime example) and less crew to manage the various required functions of the vehicle. It was not until World War 2 that armored warfare truly came into its own, beginning an "arms race" of sorts concerning tanks between world powers that ultimately produced the excellent Soviet T-34 Medium Tank and German Panther series as well as the notable American M4 Sherman and, ultimately, the late-war American M26 Pershing and British Centurion tanks. However, it was the Centurion that truly laid the foundation for the "main battle tank" category, ultimately being responsible for doing away with specifically-built tanks in the light, medium and heavy weight range classes. The MBT could now accomplish all of what was required in preceding designs.

The Centurion went on to become a post-war success story which saw thousands built and included various derivatives. By the time of the 1960s, there was a technological change in the wind and this produced the impressive Chieftain MBT for the British Army. The Chieftain became another excellent British tank design and this form mounted a reliable multi-fueled engine as well as a powerful and highly accurate 120mm main gun. If the Chieftain held any limitations it was in her engine which was never able to fully realize her output. Regardless, the Chieftain proved the most powerful tank of her time - a tremendous blend of armor and firepower at the cost of speed - that is until seated by the equally excellent German Leopard 2.

Challenger 1 Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1983
Type: Main Battle Tank (MBT)
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer(s): Royal Ordnance Factories / Vickers Defense Systems - UK
Production: 420

Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

Operating Crew: 4
Length: 37.89 feet (11.55 meters)
Width: 11.88 feet (3.62 meters)
Height: 10.27 feet (3.13 meters)

Operating Weight: 67 tons (61,200 kg; 134,923 lb)

Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: Yes
Nightvision Equipment: Yes (Passive Only)

Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

Engine(s): 1 x Perkins Engine Company Condor CV-12 12-cylinder diesel engine developing 1,200 horsepower at 2,300rpm.

Maximum Road Speed: 35 mph (56 km/h)
Maximum Road Range: 280 miles (450 km)

Armament and Ammunition

1 x 120mm L11A5 rifled main gun
1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun
1 x 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun at commander's cupola.
2 x 5 smoke grenade dischargers

64 x 120mm projectiles
4,000 x 7.62mm ammunition
10 x Smoke grenades

Global Operators / Customers

Jordan; United Kingdom

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

Challenger - Initial Series Designation until adoption of Challenger 2 into service, thus necessitating a need for the Challenger "1" designation; based on the formerly Iranian export design of the "Shir 2" main battle tank.
Challenger ARV - Armored Recovery Vehicle
Challenger Trainer - Driver Training Vehicle with fixed turret.
Challenger Marksman SPAAG - Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Challengers fitted with Marksman turret.
"Al Hussein" - Jordanian Export Variant sold as refurbished British product.

Images Gallery