The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that Ukrainian tank crews have completed training on Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) in the UK. The training, which took place in the UK, lasted several weeks and concluded on March 27. The Ukrainian tank crews have now returned to their country, where they will join the ongoing struggle against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion.
The Challenger 2 is one of the most advanced and capable MBTs in the world, with a 120mm rifled gun, a sophisticated fire control system, and a high level of protection. The UK has been using the Challenger 2 since 1998, and has deployed it in various operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The UK decided to donate 14 of its surplus Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, along with ammunition and spare parts, as part of its commitment to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The training of the Ukrainian tank crews was conducted by UK military trainers from the Combat Manoeuvre Centre, who shared their expertise and experience with their Ukrainian counterparts. The training covered various aspects of operating and fighting with the Challenger 2, such as commanding, driving, gunnery, maintenance, and teamwork. The training also included live-fire exercises and simulated scenarios.
The Ukrainian tank crews expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the UK’s support and the quality of the training. They said that they learned a lot from their British instructors, and that they were impressed by the performance and reliability of the Challenger 2. They also said that they were eager to use their new skills and equipment in combat against the Russian aggressors.
The UK’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace praised the Ukrainian tank crews for their determination and professionalism. He said that they returned to their homeland better equipped, but to no less danger. He also reaffirmed the UK’s solidarity with Ukraine, and vowed to continue to stand by them and do all it can to support them for as long as it takes.
The donation and training of the Challenger 2 tanks is one of the many ways that the UK has been assisting Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion over a year ago, on February 24, 2022. The UK has also trained and equipped the Ukrainian armed forces with other capabilities, such as anti-tank weapons, armoured vehicles, and air defence systems. The UK has also provided humanitarian aid, diplomatic pressure, and sanctions against Russia.
The UK’s support for Ukraine is part of its wider strategy to uphold international law and order, and to deter Russian aggression and malign influence in Europe and beyond. The UK believes that a free and democratic Ukraine is vital for the security and prosperity of the region and the world.
Challenger 2 main battle tank
The Challenger 2 main battle tank entered service with the British Army in 1998 and has seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is widely regarded as one of the most capable and survivable tanks in the world.
The Challenger 2 is a heavily armored tank with a 120 mm rifled gun that can fire a variety of ammunition types, including armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive squash head (HESH), and canister rounds. The tank also has a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a 12.7 mm machine gun on the commander’s cupola. The tank has a crew of four: commander, gunner, loader, and driver.
The Challenger 2 has a number of advanced features that enhance its performance and protection. It has a digital fire control system that allows the gunner to acquire and engage targets quickly and accurately. It has a thermal imaging system that provides day and night vision for the crew. It has a hydrogas suspension system that gives the tank a smooth ride and allows it to adjust its height and tilt. It has an electric drive turret that enables rapid traverse and elevation of the gun. It has a nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) protection system that seals the crew compartment from external threats.
The Challenger 2 also has a modular armor system that consists of layers of steel, ceramic, and composite materials. The armor can be replaced or upgraded depending on the threat level. The tank can withstand hits from most anti-tank weapons and mines. It can also survive explosions from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). The tank has an automatic fire suppression system that detects and extinguishes fires in the crew compartment and engine bay.
The Challenger 2 is a formidable tank that can operate in various terrains and climates. It has a top speed of 59 km/h on roads and 40 km/h off-road. It has a range of 450 km on internal fuel and can be refueled from external sources. It can cross water obstacles up to 1.1 m deep without preparation and up to 4 m deep with snorkel equipment. It can climb gradients up to 60% and traverse slopes up to 30%. It can negotiate vertical obstacles up to 0.85 m and trenches up to 2.8 m.
The Challenger 2 is expected to remain in service until at least 2035. The British Army plans to upgrade the tank with new technologies and capabilities, such as improved optics, communications, mobility, and firepower. The Challenger 2 is a proven and reliable tank that can face any adversary on the battlefield.