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IAV 2022: Challenger 3 upgrade under way

The UK is upgrading 148 of the British Army's 227 Challenger 2 tanks to the Challenger 3 standard. (Crown copyright)

The first six tank hulls that have undergone an automotive improvement as part of the UK's Challenger 3 upgrade have been delivered, Janes learned at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2022 conference being held in London from 24 to 27 January. This enables the upgrade to proceed in the areas of digitisation, replacing the rifled gun with a smoothbore one, and improving the tank's protection.

An important part of the upgrade is the optimisation of the Challenger 3 for the digital battlefield, with the installation of a local area network and connectivity with the UK's Bowman radio and Morpheus communications and information systems.

The British Army expects the Challenger 3's smoothbore to increase interoperability with other armed forces and allow the use of new kinetic energy rounds.

The Challenger 3 will be the first UK vehicle to be equipped with an active protection system (APS). The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) selected Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Trophy APS in mid-2021 for detailed assessment and integration into the Challenger 3, with the final decision on the system to be taken in 2022.

Meanwhile, discussions are under way with industry on the future of the 79 Challenger 2 tanks that are not upgraded. Their turrets can be mounted on tanks other than the Challenger 2, and other countries are reportedly interestedin the unmodernised vehicles.

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