10 May 2021
by Samuel Cranny-Evans
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) an GBP800 million (USD1.17 billion) contract to upgrade 148 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) to the Challenger 3 standard.
The UK has awarded a contract to RBSL for the comprehensive modernisation of its Challenger 2 MBT. (RBSL)
RBSL said in a press release on 7 May that production of a brand new welded turret with Rheinmetall’s 120 mm L55A1 smoothbore main armament and installation of a new protection package would begin this year, with a 2027 in-service date.
The upgrade also includes a new mission system suite, which is expected to use Thales’s Orion commander’s sight, and a DNGS T3 gunner’s sight, which are also used on the UK’s Ajax reconnaissance vehicle currently in production, providing parts commonality and therefore logistic and cost savings.
A key user requirement for the upgrade is an active protection system (APS), with the Trophy system from Rafael Defence among the likely contenders. The APS that is selected will supplement a new advanced armour package, which is designed to ensure survivability of the platform against modern and future peer threats.
“The new modular armour has been developed through advances in armour technology provided by the in-house Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) funded armour expertise held within Dstl [the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory],” the UK MoD said on its website on 7 May. The new armour package is expected to be an improvement or adjustment over the Dorchester armour fitted to Challenger 2.
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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) an GBP800 million (...