Wednesday 29 May, 2024
HomeArmy & Land ForcesLand PlatformsLatest Challenger 3 prototype rolls off production line

Latest Challenger 3 prototype rolls off production line

The latest of eight Challenger 3 main battle tank (MBT) prototypes has been completed at the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) factory production line in Telford, England.

Described as the apex predator that will dominate the modern battlefield, the 66-tonne Challenger 3 MBT is powered by a 1,500-horsepower diesel engine and can reach speeds of up to 60kph. It is armed with a 120mm smoothbore gun with higher muzzle velocity and greater penetration capability than its predecessor, Challenger 2.

The Challenger 3 MBT 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 MBT 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 MBT 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 MBT 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.

UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “In a more dangerous world, the need for vehicles such as the Challenger 3 is imperative, as the threats facing the UK evolve. This tank will be at the heart of the British Army’s warfighting capabilities and will be integral to the UK’s deterrence.

“The hard work and dedication on show in Telford and across the country is instrumental in driving forward UK defence innovation and delivering for our forces in the frontline.”

RBSL is currently delivering the Challenger 3 MBT as part of an £800 million contract, which is resulting in the creation of numerous highly skilled jobs. Within RBSL alone, nearly 300 jobs will be generated, including 130 engineers and 70 technicians.

Additionally, there will be an additional 450 jobs created across the UK. This contract is also attracting a £40 million inward investment in RBSL’s Telford facility, and it will utilize a UK supply chain that involves companies located in the West Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne, and the Isle of Wight.

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of DefenceToday.com. 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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