Military Vehicles Currently Supplied to UK NATO Forces
The Challenger Mk2 Main Battle Tank
The FV4034 Challenger 2 is a British main battle tank (MBT) in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman. It was designed and built by
the British company Vickers Defence Systems (now known as BAE Systems Land & Armaments). Vickers Defence Systems began to develop a successor to
Challenger 1 as a private venture in 1986. A GBP90 million deal for a demonstrator vehicle was finalised in January 1989. In June 1991, the Ministry
of Defence placed a GBP520 million order for 140 vehicles, with a further 268 ordered in 1994. Production began in 1993 and the unit's tanks were
delivered in July 1994, replacing the Challenger 1. The tank entered service with the British Army in 1998, with the last delivered in 2002. It is
expected to remain in service until 2035. The Royal Army of Oman ordered 18 Challenger 2s in 1993 and a further 20 tanks in November 1997.
The Challenger 2 is an extensive redesign of the Challenger 1. Although the hull and automotive components seem similar, they are of a newer design
and build than those of the Challenger 1 and only around 3% of components are interchangeable. The tank's drive system provides a 550 km range, with
a maximum road speed of 59 km/h. It has a four-man crew.
The Challenger 2 is equipped with a 120-millimetre (4.7 in) 55-calibre long L30A1 tank gun, the successor to the L11 gun used on the Chieftain and
Challenger 1. Uniquely among NATO main battle tank armament, the L30A1 is rifled, because the British Army continues to place a premium on the use
of High-explosive squash head (HESH) rounds in addition to armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot rounds. The Challenger 2 is also armed
with a L94A1 EX-34 7.62 mm chain gun and a 7.62 mm L37A2 (GPMG) machine gun. Fifty eight main armament rounds and 4,200 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition
The Challenger 2 is considered to be one of the best protected tanks in the world. The turret and hull are protected with second generation Chobham
armour (also known as Dorchester). However, on one occasion, in August 2006, during the post-invasion stage of the Iraq War 2003 an RPG-29 was fired
at a Challenger 2 that was climbing over a ramp, the front underside hull armour of the tank (which was not augmented with an explosive reactive
armour package) was damaged, the tank subsequently returned to base under its own power and was quickly repaired and back on duty the following day.
As a result, the explosive reactive armour package was replaced with a Dorchester block and the steel underbelly lined with armour as part of the
'Streetfighter' upgrade as a direct response to this incident.
To date, the only time the tank has ever been seriously damaged during operations, was by another Challenger 2 in a 'blue on blue' (friendly fire)
incident. The Challenger 2 has seen operational service in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
A British military document from 2001 indicated that the British Army would not procure a replacement for the Challenger 2 because of a lack of
foreseeable conventional threats in the future. However, IHS Jane's 360 reported on the 20 September 2015 that following discussions with Senior
Army Officers and Procurement Officials at DSEI 2015, as well as the head of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter, that the British Army was
looking at either upgrading the Challenger 2 or outright replacing it. Sources confirmed that the future of the MBT was being considered at the
highest levels of the Army. This stemmed from the British Army's concern with the new Russian T-14 Armata main battle tank and the growing ineffectiveness
of the aging L30 rifled gun and its limited suite of ammunition. Further, it was confirmed that numerous armoured vehicle manufacturers had discussions
with the MoD about a potential replacement for the Challenger 2.
The British Army has decided that purchasing a new tank would be too expensive
and chose to proceed with a Challenger 2 life extension project (LEP). It is expected to remain in service until 2025.
The Challenger 2 has a 12 cylinder 1200 hp Perkins diesel engine and a David Brown TN54 gearbox, with 6 forward and 2 reverse gears. Second-generation
Hydrogas suspension and hydraulic track tensioner are fitted. The maximum speed by road is 59 km/hour and 40 km/hour cross country. The range is
given as 450 km by road and 250 km cross country.
Challenger 2E has a new integrated weapon control and battlefield management system, which includes a gyrostabilised day/thermal sight for both
commander and gunner. This allows hunter/killer operations with a common engagement sequence. An optional servo-controlled overhead weapons platform
can be slaved to the commander's sight to allow operation independent from the turret.
The powerpack has been replaced with a new 1500 hp Europack with transversely mounted MTU 883 diesel engine coupled to Renk HSWL 295TM automatic