Rheinmetall has won a pioneering land forces order of pan-European and NATO- wide significance. 148 Challenger 2 main battle tanks will be upgraded with the 120mm smoothbore main armament, together with a completely new turret structure, including digital system architecture.
Forming part of the British Army’s Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP), the modernization programme is poised to convert the Challenger 2 tank into the Challenger 3, keeping it in service for decades to come. Completion and delivery will take place during the 2021-2027 timeframe.
The latest generation L55A1 smoothbore gun from Rheinmetall will place the modernized Challenger at the forefront of NATO tank technology. The Challenger 3 will be a network-enabled, digital tank featuring unsurpassed lethality and greatly improved survivability on the battlefield.
The new vehicle will be armed with the latest 120mm high-pressure L55 smoothbore gun, which fires subcalibre KE projectiles and programmable multipurpose ammunition. It will be able to fire current and future Rheinmetall 120mm kinetic energy rounds and programmable multipurpose ammunition. The latest fire control technology and sensor systems will significantly boost the vehicle’s combat effectiveness, resulting in more accurate firepower. A new turret structure with improved survivability systems assures maximum crew protection, and the main optical sights improves the target acquisition and tracking capability of both the commander and gunner. Thanks to the new physical, electronic and electrical architectures, this upgrade provides additionally significant growth potentials for the next decades.
Much of the upgrade work will be carried out in the UK at the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) plant in Telford, UK. RBSL will be working together with subcontractors from all over Britain, meaning around 450 jobs will be maintained or newly created in the British supply chain.
Armin Papperger, chief executive of Rheinmetall AG, has said, “We’re proud to be taking charge of one the United Kingdom’s most important army technology programmes here in the cradle of the British tank industry. In technological terms, the upgrade will put the British Challenger tank on the cutting edge of NATO’s armed forces. To make this happen, we’ve amalgamated the longstanding expertise of RBSL with Rheinmetall of Germany’s unsurpassed know-how in large-calibre weapon systems, digitization and advanced turret solutions.”
John Abunassar, head of Rheinmetall’s Vehicle System’s division, added, “The British Army is getting a world-class capability. At the same time, we’re celebrating the return of top-notch tank technology to the British Isles, because the bulk of the work will take place in the UK and involve the inclusion of numerous local suppliers. This announcement comes after years of hard work and collaboration with our customer, especially in the recent extraordinary circumstances brought about by COVID-19.”