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Challenger 3 (CR3)

Main Battle Tank [ 2027 ]

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.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/05/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United Kingdom national flag graphic
United Kingdom

Program in Progress.

Rheinmetall BAe Systems Land (RBSL) - United Kingdom / Germany
(View other Vehicle-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom (planned)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Main Battle Tank (MBT)
Primary armored ground combat unit of modern armies utilizing speed, protection, and / or firepower to spearhead armored assaults.
Frontline Asset
Frontline unit used to take direct part in forward operating actions against enemy positions / targets.
Engage armored vehicles of similar form and function.

Track-and-Wheel Arrangement
Vehicle utilizes a track-and-wheel arrangement to provide enhanced cross-country travel capability.
Primary Turret
A modern tank quality, this vehicle sports its main armament in a single turret.
Traversable Main Armament
Armament is situated in a traversing component, allowing for all-around engagement of enemy threats.
Recoil Enhancement
Main weapon has an integral recoil mechanism, allowing the system to remain trained-on-target after firing.
Firing On-the-Move
A modern quality, onboard systems provide accuracy to primary armament allowing for firing on-the-move.
Cross-Country Capability
Design includes such features as a track-link system or high ground clearance to better traverse offroad.
Angled Armor
Angled armor at key facings adds inherent ballistics protection to the vehicle.
Shallow Glacis
The shallow design of the glacis plate provides the vehicle with inherent ballistics protection as well as contributes to a lower overall profile - making it more difficult to disable.
Enhanced Armor Protection
Protection is enhanced by way of additional armor being installed over that of standard levels; plate steel for older designs and reactive armor for modern types.
Armored Skirt
Additional protection to the upper track reaches and roadwheels is achieved by way of addon armored skirts along the sides of the hull.
NBC Protection
Crew is provided (either as standard or optional) protection against Nuclear-Biological-Chemical agents for enhanced survivability in contaminated zones.
Smoke Screening
Vehicle has capability to self-generate a smoke screen, either through launched grenades or built-in engine funtion (raw fuel injection).
Crew has access to night-vision equipment, allowing for low-light or night time operations.
Anti-Aircraft / Air-Defense Capable
System is given an anti-aircraft defense component to protect itself from low-flying aerial threats at range.
Vehicle features an in-built anti-infantry capability for local defense of the vehicle or general troop suppression.

27.6 ft
8.4 m
13.8 ft
4.2 m
8.2 ft
2.5 m
145,505 lb
66,000 kg
72.8 tons
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Challenger 3 production variant. Length typically includes main gun in forward position if applicable to the design)
Powerplant: 1 x Perkins CV12-9A V-12 diesel-fueled engine of unknown horsepower output driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Transmission: 1 x David Brown Engineering (DBE) TN54E epicyclic transmission system (six-forward, two-reverse speeds).
35.4 mph
(57.0 kph)
326.2 mi
(525.0 km)
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Challenger 3 production variant. Compare this entry against any other in our database)
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).

Supported Types

Graphical image of a tank cannon armament
Graphical image of a tank medium machine gun
Graphical image of a tank heavy machine gun
Graphical image of tank /armored vehicle smoke grenade dischargers

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
45 x 120mm projectiles (estimated).
2,000 x 7.62mm ammunition (estimated).
500 x 12.7mm ammunition (estimated).
10 x Smoke grenades.

Challenger 3 - Base Series Name.

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Similar Land Systems

Battlefield developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Challenger 3 (CR3)...


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