The Challenger 3 is the latest main battle tank (MBT) of the British Army, and it is expected to enter service by 2027. The Challenger 3 is a major upgrade of the Challenger 2, which has been in service since 1998 and is considered one of the most reliable and survivable tanks in the world. The Challenger 3 aims to enhance the firepower, protection, mobility and connectivity of the British tank fleet, and to ensure its relevance and superiority in the modern battlefield.
One of the most significant features of the Challenger 3 is its new 120mm smoothbore gun, which replaces the rifled gun of the Challenger 2. The smoothbore gun can fire a variety of advanced ammunition types, including kinetic energy penetrators, high-explosive squash head, and programmable airburst rounds. The gun also has a higher muzzle velocity and accuracy than the previous gun, and can engage targets at longer ranges and with greater lethality.
The Challenger 3 also has a new suite of sights and sensors, which provide the tank commander and gunner with enhanced day and night vision, target acquisition, and situational awareness. The sights include a panoramic commander’s sight with thermal imaging and laser rangefinder, a gunner’s primary sight with thermal imaging and laser designator, and a driver’s night vision system. The sights are linked to a digital fire control system, which calculates the optimal firing solution for each target.
Another key improvement of the Challenger 3 is its new modular armour system, which offers a higher level of protection against various threats, such as kinetic energy projectiles, shaped charges, mines, and improvised explosive devices. The armour system consists of composite armour plates that can be replaced or upgraded as needed, and an active protection system (APS) that can detect and neutralise incoming missiles and rockets. The APS is based on the Israeli Trophy system, which has proven its effectiveness in combat.
The Challenger 3 also has a new engine and suspension system, which improve its mobility and agility on different terrains. The engine is a 1,500hp diesel engine from MTU, which provides more power and torque than the old 1,200hp engine. The suspension system is a hydrogas suspension from Horstman Defence Systems, which allows the tank to adjust its ride height and damping according to the terrain conditions. The new engine and suspension also reduce the weight and fuel consumption of the tank.
The Challenger 3 is also designed to be more connected and interoperable with other platforms and systems on the battlefield. The tank has a digital open architecture that allows it to integrate with various communication, navigation, and data-sharing systems. The tank can also exchange information and coordinate actions with other tanks, vehicles, aircraft, drones, and soldiers through a secure network. The digital open architecture also enables the tank to receive software updates and enhancements remotely.
The Challenger 3 is expected to be a formidable weapon system that will provide the British Army with a decisive edge over its adversaries. The tank will be able to engage and destroy enemy targets at long ranges, withstand enemy fire and survive in hostile environments, manoeuvre swiftly and stealthily across diverse terrains, and collaborate effectively with other friendly forces. The Challenger 3 will be the backbone of the British armoured forces for decades to come.