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Delivering the most capable tank in NATO - Challenger 3 programme update

On display at Rheinmetall’s and RBSL’s DSEI 2021 stand is the highly-anticipated Challenger 3 demonstrator vehicle.

Challenger 3 will be a network-enabled, digital Main Battle Tank (MBT) with state-of-the-art lethality, upgraded survivability, plus world-class surveillance and target acquisition capabilities.

The demonstrator is also equipped with a combination of active and passive protection elements as a demonstration of how critical future capabilities could look on the Challenger 3.

Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) announced their UK MOD contract to upgrade 148 British Army Challenger 2 vehicles in May 2021, and significant progress has been made since the announcement.

The RBSL Challenger 3 team has mobilised and major recruitment and on-boarding activity is underway to grow the team of specialists who will deliver the programme. 200 jobs will be created and sustained within RBSL, including 130 engineers and 70 technicians. RBSL will also grow its existing apprentice community into an ambitious early careers programme who will assist the delivery of a career-defining contract.

In parallel, supplier mobilisation is ramping up with supply chain negotiations in progress for key components on the Challenger 3 programme. 450 jobs are expected be created and sustained within the UK supply chain, further contributing to UK prosperity and the levelling-up agenda.

RBSL is working closely with the British Army and the UK MOD procurement arm, Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), to deliver the programme. All customer milestones, such as the initial requirements and project baseline reviews, have successfully taken place, with contract deliverables submitted and accepted.

Back at base, RBSL’s manufacturing facility in Telford is continuing its £20m internal investment programme ahead Challenger 3 and Boxer production. Training, infrastructure and equipment continue to evolve to ensure a world-class manufacturing facility.

Nick Long, Challenger 3 Programme Director, said:

“The mission remains to give British Army credible hard power as part of the NATO alliance, to give British Army soldiers a step-change in capability, and to re-establish MBT engineering and manufacturing in the UK.

“We’re working very closely with the MOD and Army to deliver the programme. We’re recruiting hard, we’re engaged with our supply chain, and we’re delivering on our commitments. It’s great to see the demonstrator vehicle at DSEI, to remind us in full colour what we’re all working so hard towards.”

The Challenger 3 contract will facilitate the UK staying at the forefront of Armoured Fighting Vehicle development and provides the UK with the opportunity to explore new technologies for integration in future capabilities. The programme protects the UK’s national skill base in both defence and engineering sectors, and could enable exports worldwide.

Challenger 3 tech specs

RBSL’s upgrade solution for the Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (MBT) incorporates state-of-the-art lethality, survivability, surveillance and target acquisition capability enhancements.

Lethality: The latest Rheinmetall 120 mm High-Pressure L55A1 smooth bore main armament, firing world-class, temperature-independent Kinetic Energy tank rounds and the latest programmable High Explosive ammunition. Performance is optimised with the latest gun and fire control system technology.

Survivability: The new turret structure and armour system provides the highest standards of protection for the crew, with work underway to incorporate hard and soft kill Active Protection Systems.

Surveillance & Target Acquisition: Improved long-range Commander and Gunner primary sights with automatic target detection / tracking, plus integrated day and thermal modes of operation.

The solution also provides significant growth potential in all key capability areas with new physical, electronic and electrical architectures ready to support upgrades over the decades to come.

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