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The Challenger 3 programme, which aims to deliver 148 upgraded, fully digitalised battle tanks to the British Army from 2027, has passed its Critical Design Review (CDR) ahead of schedule. This milestone achievement is the culmination of a massive collaborative effort by the teams from the UK's Ministry of Defence's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Land Equipment Operating Centre, the British Army, and industry partners Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL).
The CDR approval means that the design for the tanks has been agreed upon, and RBSL can now start building the CR3 prototypes. The work was carried out under an £800 million contract awarded to RBSL in 2021.
The supply-chain sub-contracts for the project have now been awarded to UK supply chain companies, contributing to the government’s levelling up agenda. Work to modernise and expand RBSL’s production facility in Telford, which will also manufacture Boxer vehicles, is now almost complete.
In addition to the core contract, the team has been conducting successful trials of a cutting-edge new armour system that will protect the tank. This UK sovereign capability, based on a DSTL design and manufactured by RBSL, is a significant milestone in the development of the CR3.
Furthermore, the concurrent integration of the Trophy MV Active Protection System (APS) is progressing well through the Concept and Assessment phases, with a successful demonstration being conducted in Nov 2022. This system will provide additional protection for the tank and its crew against threats such as anti-tank missiles.
|Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank - Photo credit: army.mod.uk|
The fully digitalised tanks will benefit from several upgrades, including a new 120mm smoothbore gun which uses the most advanced globally available ammunition. The new gun will give the Challenger 3 better firepower, range, and accuracy than its predecessor. Additionally, a new suite of sights will provide tank commanders with enhanced day and night targeting abilities, which will significantly improve the tank's combat effectiveness.
The Challenger 3 will also feature a new armour solution that is designed to offer superior protection against a wide range of threats. The armour system has been developed using advanced materials and manufacturing techniques, which provide enhanced protection without increasing the weight of the tank.
Furthermore, the Challenger 3 will have an active protection system that will further increase the tank's survivability. This system uses sensors to detect incoming threats and deploys countermeasures to defeat them, ensuring that the tank and its crew are protected at all times.
Finally, the Challenger 3's turret can be fitted to the tanks of allies and global partners, providing a significant opportunity for international cooperation in the field of armoured vehicles. This feature will make it easier for countries to work together and share resources in defence of shared interests.
In conclusion, the Challenger 3 Delivery Team's success in passing the Critical Design Review ahead of schedule is a significant milestone in the development of the CR3 programme. The project remains on track and within budget, and the team's collaborative efforts have resulted in a tank that will provide the British Army with superior firepower, protection, and mobility. The successful integration of the Trophy MV Active Protection System and the UK sovereign armour system demonstrate the team's commitment to innovation and excellence. With the Challenger 3, the British Army will be well equipped to face the challenges of modern warfare for years to come.