"Instead of committing to a more costly MBT development program, the British Army will instead receive modernized tanks in the form of the new Challenger 3."
Power & Performance Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank.
1 x Perkins CV12-9A V-12 diesel-fueled engine of unknown horsepower output driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement. Installed Power
35 mph 57 kph Road Speed
326 miles 525 km Range
Structure The physical qualities of the Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank.
4 (MANNED) Crew
27.6 ft 8.4 meters O/A Length
13.8 ft 4.2 meters O/A Width
8.2 ft 2.5 meters O/A Height
145,505 lb 66,000 kg | 72.8 tons Weight
Armament & Ammunition Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Challenger 3 (CR3) Main Battle Tank.
1 x 120mm L55A1 smoothbore main gun in front turret face.
1 x 7.62mm Anti-Infantry co-axial machine gun.
1 x 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft (AA) machine gun on turret roof.
10 x Smoke grenade dischargers (assumed).
AMMUNITION: 45 x 120mm projectiles (estimated).
2,000 x 7.62mm ammunition (estimated).
500 x 12.7mm ammunition (estimated).
10 x Smoke grenades.
Variants Notable series variants as part of the Challenger 3 (CR3) family line.
As excellent as the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (MBT) has been for the British Army, the system has its design roots back in the 1990s and entered service in 1998, seeing its only combat action in the Iraq War of 2003. Oman joined the British in operating the type leading to fewer than 450 being built. With decades having gone by since the inception of the machine in its original form, thought has now been given to a direct successor - this becoming the all-modern, and appropriately named, "Challenger 3" (CR3).
Rather than invest in an all-new product, the Army has instead opted to upgrade / modernize the existing Challenger 2 stock into the CR3 standard by way of Life-EXtention (LEX) program. The program will introduce an all-new turret as well as feature modifications of the Challenger 2 hull to make for a more viable fighting machine designed to meet the rising threats of the evolving battlefield. The upgrade is being designed by a joint-venture between the Germans and the British, resulting in the Rheinmetall BAe Systems Land (RBSL) brand label. Facilities will begin the production effort in 2027.
BAe Systems and Rheinmetall initially submitted separate LEX entries in 2018 and 2019, respectively, until the two concerns merged soon after to make the decision that much simpler for British authorities.
As it stands currently (2022), the CR3 will be a 73-ton (short), largely conventional armored vehicle driven by a single engine with a traditional track-and-wheel arrangement. Internally the tank will retain an operating crew of four made up of the driver, commander, gunner, and loader. The driver will reside at his usual hull-center placement with the remaining crew stationed in the 360-degree traversable turret (the powerpack is installed at the rear of the hull). Externally, the tank is expected to be protected by a new-generation armor application for enhanced crew and systems survivability in modern warfare. This includes the proven Israeli Rafael "TROPHY" Active Protection System (APS) for real-time support against inbound Anti-Tank, Guided-Missiles (ATGMs) and Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs).
Drive power will be handled by a Perkins CV12-9A V-12 diesel fueled engine of unknown horsepower output. This will be mated to a David Brown Engineering (DBE) TN54E epicyclic transmission system with six-forward and two-reverse gears. The chassis will be suspended atop a Horstman 3rd Gen Hyrogas suspension system to promote off-road / cross-country travel.
At the heart of the tank will be the German Rheinmetall 120mm L55A1 smoothbore main gun offering excellent penetration-at-range and accuracy with digital systems controlling firing on-the-move. This is a departure from the Challenger 2's original - and excellent - 120mm L30A1 rifled main gun. The L55A1 is the same modernized version as found on German Leopard 2 MBTs which should promote logistical friendliness between two of the top NATO players in Europe.
The British Army expects to procure a total stock of 148 of the vehicles with Initial Operating Capability (IOC) planned in 2027 and Full Operational Capability (FOC) to be has in or around 2030.
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