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Land Platforms

Rheinmetall to offer Challenger 2 enhancements beyond LEP

15 August 2016
An artist's impression of a British Army Challenger 2 MBT upgraded by Rheinmetall through the LEP, showing improvements to the turret including new commander's panoramic sighting system and situational awareness cameras. Source: Rheinmetall Defence

In addition to meeting the requirements of the British Army Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (C2 LEP), Rheinmetall Defence will look to introduce wider enhancements to the platform.

The company submitted its proposal for the LEP - an effort that is focused on replacing obsolete sub-systems, primarily in the turret - on 11 August.

Rheinmetall's C2 LEP proposal leverages experience obtained in upgrade programmes for the Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) of the Indonesian and Polish militaries.

The key capability enhancement that Rheinmetall is proposing would see the Challenger 2's 120 mm L30A1 rifled gun replaced by the company's 120 mm L55 smoothbore, which has already been trialled as part of a UK MoD technology demonstrator contract. There has been no significant ammunition development for the L30A1 in recent years.

The installation of the L55 may be more expensive in the short-term but it would enhance the capability of the Challenger 2 due to the considerable investment in ammunition development and production undertaken by Rheinmetall.

The L55 is already in service with Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Qatar and Spain and when compared to the earlier 120 mm L44 smoothbore gun installed in the original Leopard 2 through to the A5 variant, provides an increase in target engagement capability of up to 1,500 m when firing armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) ammunition.

In addition to firing the latest Rheinmetall DM63A1 APFSDS natures of ammunition, and future developments with enhanced penetration characteristics, the L55 can also fire the latest 120 mm DM11 programmable air burst ammunition, which has significant utility in urban operations.

Other potential Challenger 2 enhancements from Rheinmetall would include new optronics, situational awareness systems, and fire control solutions.

As well as undertaking all aspects of the C2 LEP Design Authority, the company would incorporate UK suppliers in the programme as well as providing through life support.

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