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Challenger 3 tank to begin trials in coming weeks

The British Army’s next main battle tank (MBT) will reach a major milestone with the first pre-production Challenger 3 going into trials in the coming weeks.

This initial model and subsequent models that will soon follow will demonstrate their capabilities during trials. These trials will assess the prototypes’ performance under operational conditions, allowing for necessary refinements before the construction and delivery of an additional 140 platforms to the British Army.

Developed by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), the Challenger 3 platform will incorporate a state-of-the-art 120mm L55A1 smoothbore gun manufactured by Rheinmetall, allowing for the utilization of cutting-edge ammunition. By integrating the Next Generation UK-sovereign modular armour, a digitally enhanced turret, and the inclusion of the Trophy Medium Variant APS, the platform will effectively safeguard against rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles. This significant enhancement will undoubtedly elevate the war-fighting capability of the British Army.

RBSL is a key player in the delivery of the Land Industrial Strategy through its Challenger 3 programme. The programme ensures that the best of British engineering and manufacturing is utilized, while valuable skills across the country are sustained. The multi-million-pound investment in its Telford facility, and the creation of jobs within RBSL and the UK supply chain, contributes to national industrial resilience and aligns with the UK Government’s social value and ‘levelling up’ aspirations.

Challenger 3 Deputy Project Manager at RBSL, Nick Berchem said: “Designed with the crew’s safety, operational effectiveness, and comfort at its heart, and with the users’ advice at every stage, I am sure it will prove to be a very potent and popular addition to the British army’s inventory. It is hugely exciting and very satisfying to be part of the team bringing this immensely capable tank to life.”

Colonel Will Waugh, Senior Responsible Owner of the Army’s Armour (MBT) Programme, said: “Delivery of the first pre-production Challenger 3 and the commencement of trials marks a critical milestone on the journey to the Army’s modernised Main Battle Tank capability.”

“Challenger 3 will be at the heart of the Army’s Armoured Brigade Combat Teams, alongside Ajax and Boxer, under Future Soldier. Events in Ukraine have underscored the need for credible warfighting capabilities. The Army’s Armoured Brigade Combat Teams, with Challenger 3 at their centre, are key to the UK’s contribution to NATO’s deterrence.”

Major General Darren Crook, Director Land Equipment for Defence, Equipment & Support said: “In an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world, our priority is to deliver to the Army the capability it needs to deliver Future Soldier and be more lethal on the Battlefield. I am immensely proud of the work the whole team has undertaken: the Army, DE&S and RBSL working together to deliver the first pre-production Challenger 3.”

“This marks a critical milestone in our delivery of this impressive capability to the British Army and will provide our soldiers with a world-class Main Battle Tank made here in the UK. It also demonstrates the centrality of the Land Industrial Strategy, with the UK increasingly developing a highly-skilled industrial base and maintaining strategic advantage through our Industry partners such as RBSL.”

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of Neil is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. He can be found on Twitter: @NeilRitchie86.

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