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Challenger 3 critical design review approved

The UK Ministry of Defence has selected Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Trophy active protection system (APS) for the next phase of detailed assessment of and integration into the British Army's Challenger 3 main battle tank, the ministry and company announced on 24 June 2021. (Crown copyright)

The UK Ministry of Defence's Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation and the British Army announced on their websites on 9 February that the critical design review (CDR) for the Challenger 3 main battle tank had been approved ahead of schedule and within budget. The CDR follows the initial design review in March 2022. The originally planned date for the CDR was 31 March 2023.

Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) was awarded a GBP800 million (nearly USD973 million) contract for 148 Challenger 3s in May 2021. Janes has learned production of Challenger 3 prototypes has begun, with a total of eight planned to be manufactured.

The next formal milestone is the systems qualification review planned for 2025, which will mark the end of the demonstration and trials phase, allowing manufacture to begin.

The upgrade covers the areas of digitisation, replacing the 120 mm rifled gun with Rheinmetall's 120 mm L55A1 smoothbore gun, a new suite of sights providing tank commanders with improved day and night targeting capabilities, improving the tank's protection, and increased mobility with an upgraded engine and new hydrogas suspension. The improved protection includes a new armour system designed by the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and produced by RBSL that has undergone trials.

To optimise the Challenger 3 for the digital battlefield, a local area network has been installed, with connectivity with the UK's Bowman radio and Morpheus communication and information systems.

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