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IAV 2024: Challenger 3 trials to start

Trials of the Challenger 3 MBT, featuring Epsom armour, the Trophy-MV APS, a fully digitised turret, and a 120 mm smoothbore gun, will begin in the coming weeks. (RBSL)

The first prototype of the Challenger 3 main battle tank (MBT) will begin trials in the coming weeks, Janes learnt on the first day of Defence iQ's International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2024 conference being held in London from 22 to 25 January.

The MBT will feature Epsom armour and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Trophy-MV (Medium Vehicle) armour protection system (APS), a fully digitised turret, and Rheinmetall's 120 mm L55A1 smoothbore gun, which conducted its first firing in 2023.

The UK's Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation announced on 18 January that it had awarded Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) a contract for a new modular armour system for the Challenger 3. The system was designed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and was jointly developed with RBSL. Initial integration trials were conducted in 2023, and RBSL will test, manufacture, and integrate the new armour into the Challenger 3.

DE&S awarded RBSL an GBP800 million (USD1 billion) contract for 148 Challenger 3s in May 2021, with a total of eight prototypes being manufactured.

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.

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