Military Review

British armored fist


Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land's advanced Challenger 2 technology demonstrator features a new turret from Rheinmetall armed with an L120 55mm smoothbore cannon

The British Army and its armored forces are currently undergoing significant organizational and equipment changes. According to the 1998 Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDR 98), the army was reorganized into two deployable divisions: the 1st Armored Division of three armored brigades stationed in Germany and the 3rd Mechanized Division of three mechanized brigades directly in the UK. The 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review identified a new "Army 2020" structure, according to which heavy army units are grouped into five multipurpose brigades. Each such brigade consists of one armored regiment, one armored reconnaissance regiment, one motorized infantry battalion, one mechanized battalion and two light infantry battalions. This structure was designed to support long-term operations at the brigade level, for example, those carried out in Afghanistan.

British armored fist

The Challenger 2 tank from the Royal Hussars takes part in the Spring Storm exercise in Estonia in May 2020

The structure of the multipurpose brigade in the 2010 version was never implemented, since in June 2012 the army announced a new structure, "Army 2020", optimized for modern warfare. The 3rd mechanized division was simply renamed into the 3rd division, which included three (1st, 2nd and 12th) motorized infantry brigades, each of which included an armored regiment of Tour 56, an armored reconnaissance regiment, two a motorized infantry battalion and one infantry battalion equipped with “heavy armored vehicles”. The division and the 16th Airborne Brigade will include the so-called Reaction Force for rapid deployment and warfare. The Adaptable Force will consist of several regular and reserve units assigned to seven (later reduced to four) infantry brigades deployed in different regions. These units serve as bases for combat training and perform various logistical tasks. All of them are part of the 1st Division, which until 2014 was called the 1st Armored Division.

The British Army Challenger 2 tank in the Theater Entry Standard (CR2 TES) variant (shown in the top photo with a mobile camouflage system) is being evaluated by the Office of Armored Vehicle Development and Testing

According to SDR 98, the regular armored forces consisted of six regiments equipped with the main combat tanks Challenger 2, and five reconnaissance regiments equipped with obsolete tracked vehicles of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family. According to the new Army 2020 survey, the armored forces have been reduced to nine regular regiments, divided into three categories: three armored regiments, three armored reconnaissance regiments and three light reconnaissance regiments. The Light Reconnaissance Regiment is a new type of regiment equipped with Jackal 4x4 vehicles that were originally purchased for operation in Afghanistan to provide the British contingent with a "maneuverable, well-armed, light patrol vehicle."

In 2016, the army announced the "Army 2020 Refine" structure, according to which the number of motorized infantry brigades will be reduced from three to two and two medium Strike brigades will be formed, which will equip two new families of platforms - Ajax tracked reconnaissance armored vehicles and Mechanized Infantry Vehicle 8x8 wheeled vehicles. ... It is expected that by 2025-2026 the army will be able to create a combat-ready division consisting of two motorized infantry brigades and one Strike brigade, formed from two brigades.

The British Army's Challenger 2 tank is the only NATO vehicle armed with the 120mm L30A1 rifled cannon.

Towards Challenger 3

According to the Chief of General Staff, Challenger 2 "is currently on the verge of obsolescence." The Challenger 2 tank produced by BAE Systems has been in operation for over 20 years, but at one time the British army preferred a foreign manufacturer's platform to replace the Challenger 1 tanks. In 1990-1991, the army evaluated the Challenger 2 technology demo, ordered by the government in January 1989, against the American M1A2 Abrams, the French Leclerc and the German Leopard 2 (improved), after which it recommended the Leopard 2, noting the impressive capabilities of the platform and the advantages of unification. with NATO allies.

Unlike its contemporaries in NATO countries, which are armed with 120mm smoothbore cannons, the Challenger 2 is equipped with the 120mm / 55 clb L30A1 cannon. This gun is the successor to the L11 cannon, developed for the Chieftain and retained in the Challenger 1, which fires a unique single-charge ammunition consisting of a projectile and a combustible charge. Such a decision would require the Ministry of Defense and BAE Systems, the sole manufacturer of ammunition for the Challenger 2 tank, to finance their development for the British army. At the same time, the chances of reducing or compensating the development cost through export sales were very slim.

The Ajax family of reconnaissance platforms is at the heart of the British Army's Strike concept

However, in June 1991, the Department of Defense issued a £ 520 million order for 127 Challenger 2 tanks and 13 driver training vehicles, and three years later ordered another 259 tanks and 9 training vehicles. The Challenger 2 tank entered service with the army in June 1998, and the last 386 tanks were ordered in 2002. 38 Challenger 2 tanks were sold to Oman, which ended the export sales of this platform.

At the end of 2005, as part of the proposed Challenger Lethality Improvement Program, one of the Challenger 2 tanks was equipped with a Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore cannon for testing purposes. Despite the positive results, the army was forced to abandon the project with an estimated cost of over 330 million pounds, as these funds were directed to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The British Army's Challenger 2 tanks are currently equipped with only three armored regiments.

Approximately 120 Challenger 2 tanks participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and a certain number remained there until April 2009 in support of the stabilization operation. They have received a number of enhancements as part of the Urgent Operational Requirements process to increase combat resilience and urban performance. An improved set of mounted armor was installed, which included Chobham passive armor on the sides of the hull and turret, lattice screens in the aft part of the turret and engine compartment, and a Selex Enforcer unmanned module armed with a 7,62 mm machine gun was installed in front of the loader's hatch. Other enhancements included the electronic warfare system, the Caracal driver's night vision device and the Barracuda mobile camouflage system.

In 2015, the Department of Military Equipment of the Ministry of Defense invited the industry to participate in the life extension program (LEP) in order to extend the service life of the Challenger 2 tank beyond 2035. After reviewing proposals from at least seven manufacturers, the Department of Defense awarded separate contracts to BAE Systems and Rheinmetall Landsysteme in December 2016 for the evaluation phase of the Challenger 2 LEP program.

The British Army has reduced the number of armored regiments equipped with Challenger 2 tanks from three to two

In January 2019, Rheinmetall announced its intention to buy a 55% stake in the ground systems business from BAE Systems for £ 28,6 million. The new Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) joint venture, headquartered at the BAE plant in Telford, was officially opened on July 1, 2019. The Telford plant will play a major role in the production of the Boxer 8x8 after the Department of Defense awarded the ARTEC consortium between Rheinmetall and Krauss-MafFei Wegmann (KMW) a 12,6 billion euro contract for the production of 528 machines under the Mechanized Infantry Vehicle program. (MIV).

When the Challenger 2 LEP project began, the army wanted up to 227 tanks to equip three regiments of the Tour 56 plus a batch for tank schools in the UK and Canada. However, the structure of "Army 2020 Refine" provides only two regiments, which thus frees up resources for a deeper modernization of the remaining fleet.

In Adaptive Forces, Jackal 2 machines are equipped with three light shelves

Although the Challenger 2 LEP program provides for the preservation of the L30 cannon, in 2019 the army decided to implement a more comprehensive CR2 LEP (Enhanced) modernization package, which aims to address aging problems, as well as significantly increase firepower and combat stability. At DSEI in September 2019, RBSL showed its advanced technology demonstrator Challenger 2, equipped with a new Rheinmetall turret with an L55A1 smoothbore cannon, computerized fire control system and electric gun drives. The tower is equipped with the same combination of sights from Thales, which is installed on the Ajax reconnaissance vehicle - the panoramic sight of the Orion commander and the stabilized day / night sight of the gunner-operator DNGS T3. The L55 installation will allow the tank to fire the latest ammunition from Rheinmetall, including the BOPS with the DM63A1 tracer and the DM11 programmable air blast projectile. Each unitary projectile is stored in a separate armored container in the turret aft niche, which is also equipped with ejection panels.

Protection can be improved by integrating Elbit Systems' Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IFLD) active protection system, with the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory spearheading a project to develop new modular armor for the Challenger 2 tank and other armored vehicles.

The Department of Defense is expected to issue RBSL this year with a one-year evaluation contract that should lead to a contract for the production of the Challenger 3 tank in 2021-2022.

The Army is considering the advantages of moving from the current Touré 56 regiment, consisting of three tank battalions, each with 18 tanks and two at the regimental headquarters, to the Tour 58 regiment, with four battalions each with 14 tanks plus two headquarters tanks.

The NATO battle group in Estonia includes a battalion with the British Army Challenger 2 MBT

Armored Cavalry 2025

The Army has finally decided to replace the remaining number of its Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) vehicles, after more than 45 years of service as primary reconnaissance vehicles.

Back in 1992, the Army launched the technologically ambitious TRACER (Tactical Reconnaissance Armored Combat Equipment Requirement) reconnaissance vehicle program to develop a replacement for the CVR (T). In 1997, this program was combined with the American Army's Future Scout Cavalry System project, within which it intended to replace its M3 Bradley armored vehicle. Two US-British industrial groups, SIKA International and Team Lancer, were awarded contracts in 1999 to develop prototypes with advanced technologies, including hybrid electric drives for near-silent machine travel, track belts to reduce vehicle weight and make travel quieter and longer operation, intelligent mast sensors and the more lethal 40-mm Cased Telescoped Armament System with telescopic ammunition from CTA International. Britain closed the TRACER project in 2002 after the US Army withdrew from it.

BAE Systems upgraded Scimitar 2 vehicles in 2010-2011 to improve their performance and combat resistance in Afghanistan

The shortcomings of the Scimitar CVR (T) reconnaissance variant with a 30mm cannon, especially its vulnerability to landmines and IEDs, posed big problems in Afghanistan. In order to improve survivability and characteristics, BAE Systems received a fixed-term contract in 2010, as a result of which the Scimitar 2 armored vehicle was developed, which is a combination of the new Spartan hull and the turret from the previous version. Survivability improvements for all variants included additional protection against explosions from mines and IEDs, ceramic armor to protect against kinetic attacks, lattice screens to protect against rocket-propelled grenades, and energy-absorbing seats for all crew members. The original Scimitar weighed 8 tons, while the Scimitar 2 weighs 12,25 tons - most of the increase comes from additional armor.

Approximately 60 CVR (T) armored vehicles, including the Sultan command variants, the Spartan armored personnel carrier, the Samson evacuation variant and the Samaritan ambulance variant, were modernized in 2010-2011, and the first Scimitar 2 vehicles were transferred to Afghanistan in August 2011. The Scimitar 2 platform is believed to be the last significant investment in the CVR (T) family, as it is slated to be replaced by General Dynamics UK's Ajax family machines between 2020 and 2025.

The Ajax platform originates in the FRES (Future Rapid Effect Systems, "Advanced Rapid Response Systems") program, which provided for the purchase of two families of armored vehicles - the FRES Utility Vehicle wheeled armored personnel carrier and the FRES Specialist Vehicle (SV) tracked reconnaissance vehicle. Although the FRES project was closed, the SV variant survived and in November 2008, the Ministry of Defense awarded BAE Systems and GDUK contracts to evaluate and develop solutions based on their CV90 and ASCOD 2 [ASCOD - Austrian Spanish Cooperative Development] infantry fighting vehicles. In July 2010, GDUK was awarded a £ 500 million contract to develop seven ASCOD S \ J prototypes for the demonstration phase.

Tank Challenger 2, modified for the demonstration "Streetfighter 2019"

In September 2014, the company was awarded a £ 3,5 billion contract for the supply of 589 armored vehicles of the Ajax family in six variants: 245 Ajax reconnaissance vehicles; 93 vehicles as an armored personnel carrier; 112 Athena control points; 51 engineering reconnaissance vehicles; 38 Atlas evacuation vehicles; and 50 Apollo repair vehicles.

Compared to the 12,5 tonnes of the Scimitar, the Ajax platform weighs 38 tonnes with the potential to grow to 42 tonnes. The main armament is a 40-mm weapon system with telescopic ammunition Cased Telescoped Armament System of the CTAI company and a remotely controlled weapon module mounted on the tower. The Ajax family vehicles will be equipped with four armored regiments, two in each Strike brigade, as well as reconnaissance companies in two armored regiments and reconnaissance platoons of four armored infantry battalions equipped with Warrior vehicles. The sensors installed on the Ajax platform will raise the situational awareness of the dispersed units of Strike brigades to an unprecedented level.

General Dynamics UK will produce 245 Ajax reconnaissance vehicles armed with a 40mm cannon by 2025-2026

In December 2015, GDUK announced that tank schools and the first company would be equipped by mid-2019, and the first brigade would be ready for deployment by the end of 2020. But in fact, this process is going slower than planned. The first six Ares vehicles were delivered to the armored center in Bovington in February 2019, where they are used for initial driver training in parallel with tabletop equipment and comprehensive simulators. In January 2020, at the training ground in Wales, for the first time, firing tests were carried out by the crew of the Ajax platform armament complex - the CT40 cannon and the 7,62 mm machine gun - in order to check the safety of the corresponding systems.

Since 2017, the Royal Cavalry Regiment, which will be the first armored regiment to be equipped with Ajax vehicles, has used its Scimitar vehicles to develop tactics, techniques and methods of warfare with Ajax platforms. The first Ajax battle group is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023, and the entire Strike brigade, with two Ajax regiments, by 2025.

The British Army began firing tests of armored vehicles of the Ajax family in January 2020

Light Cavalry

During the transition period, before equipping two Strike brigades, the 3rd Division will consist of a motorized infantry brigade, a 16th air assault brigade and a light brigade.

The decision of the army to include three light reconnaissance regiments in the regular battle formation was made after the successful operation of Jackal 4x4 armored vehicles during Operation Herrick in Afghanistan in 2008-2015. For each rotation of troops during this period, special reconnaissance units were formed in the deployed brigade to conduct reconnaissance, observation, target designation and information collection, as well as fire support. The Jackal platform, originally developed by Supacat under the designation HMT 400 for special forces, was well suited for these tasks and more than 2007 Jackal 2010/500 / 1A machines were ordered in 2-2. Serviced by a crew of 3-5, the Jackal platform was typically armed with a 12,7mm machine gun or 40mm Heckler & Koch automatic grenade launcher and a 7,62mm universal machine gun.

General Dynamics Land Systems UK manufactures Ajax family vehicles at its plant in Merthyr Tydville, Wales

The light reconnaissance regiment consists of three battalions, each with three companies, equipped with four Jackal vehicles, and a fire support group with four Coyote vehicles (army model designation Supacat 6x6 HMT 600), which can carry heavier weapons. Light reconnaissance regiments, for example, are special reconnaissance and armored regiments, include military personnel trained in sniper, crews with Javelin ATGMs, forward observation officers, mortar fire spotters and forward aviation gunners.

The Jackal 2 reconnaissance vehicle of the Light Reconnaissance Regiment takes part in NATO exercises in Poland in May 2020

In preparing a light reconnaissance battalion for a mission in Mali, the Armored Vehicle Development and Testing Authority has recently actively collaborated with several companies to develop sensors, communications and a fuel system for Jackal 2 vehicles.

Exsel Electronics, Exsel Engineering Petards Group, Qioptiq, RolaTube, Safran and Thales took part in the project. Implemented improvements include a mast thermal imaging system, a telescopic radio mast, a modernization of night vision devices and a heater. Some of these improvements could be part of the Thundercat project. This conceptual study examines available technologies that can improve the "eyes" (optics), "ears" (communication) and "teeth" (mortality) of light reconnaissance regiments.

Scimitar CVR (T) vehicles currently equipped with three armored reconnaissance regiments will be decommissioned in the next five years.

Coronavirus and defense

Less than two months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the launch of the Integrated Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy Review, on April 15, 2020, the Department of Defense confirmed that the review was paused so that the government could focus on coronavirus.

The military high command was ready to cut defense spending. As the National Audit Office said in February, "The Defense Department's budget is large, but does not cover the projected spending for 2019-2029." In the plan for the procurement of equipment for the period 2019-2029, it is noted that the Ministry of Defense considers the allocation of 180,7 billion pounds sterling for military equipment to be the best solution for 10 years, which is 2,9 billion less than necessary, while in the worst case events are projected to allocate only 13 billion pounds. In this regard, there are persistent rumors that some projects will be canceled or delayed.

Defense funding is now being complicated by the worst financial crisis since 1945, which has hit the British government.
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  1. Ragnar Lodbrok
    Ragnar Lodbrok 31 August 2020 06: 09
    Thanks for the interesting article to the author, but it seems like the British are planning their tanks (227 Challenger 2 and 388 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles), which were deemed obsolete last year, but the other day the British military leadership presented a "plan for the conservation of all British tanks" as part of the reduction funding of the country's Ministry of Defense. Since all this equipment requires expensive modernization, it was simply offered to abandon it. Let's see if this will be so or not ... And the tanks of the ancestor of this type of troops are quite good, I must admit ..
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov 31 August 2020 14: 09
      Quote: Ragnar Lothbrok
      But it seems like the British are planning their tanks (227 Challenger 2 and 388 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles), which were deemed obsolete last year, but the other day the British military leadership presented a "plan for the conservation of all British tanks" as part of the cuts in funding for the country's defense ministry.

      Apparently, someone misunderstood something.
      They just plan to reduce the number of tank battalions to two, and motorized infantry battalions on BMPs to four battalions.
      For they are planning to leave only two mechanized brigades (a reconnaissance battalion on Ajax, a tank one, two motorized infantry brigades on a Vorior and one motorized one on MRAP Mastiff)

      In turn, it turns out 3 squadrons of 18 tanks, plus two battalion control tanks. A total of 56 units in the battalion.
      Two battalions - 112 tanks. Everything else is for storage.
  2. andrewkor
    andrewkor 31 August 2020 07: 04
    After reading this article, I am not impressed with the current state and prospects of armored, to varying degrees, enemy equipment!
    1. Fibrizio
      Fibrizio 31 August 2020 16: 17
      Maybe they lie to us about the fact that the "West" is just waiting to start a full-scale war against us?
      P is propaganda. Somehow it does not fit with reality. Of all NATO, only the United States and Japan (Turkey is not interested in us) would really not refuse to fight. And then, with the proviso that they will mutuz the weak.

      But seriously, Britain doesn't need tanks. Even if it comes to the war described by our propagandists, then tankers will always be found in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former CIS. The same Ukraine. They will help them with training and repairs, and the job is ready. Tank masses in action. And they themselves will provide high-tech support outside the front line, where sophisticated equipment and specialists will be located. And meat in the CIS in bulk.
      But this is so, fantasy. The British are no fools to come to us, and we have no fleet to sail to them and land.

      I've been to Western Europe. People's thinking has changed. They are simply not ready for total war at all. And the initiator of it will be quickly thrown out of the power. There is now formally a cult of humanity. And "kAKING" this into the brain of the electorate for ten years, it is impossible to abruptly change course. There are so many migrants in Italy and Germany! Horror! Walking is disgusting (I personally was).
      There even beggars are allowed to pester people in cafes, which is wild for Russia to confess. Go to a restaurant a homeless person in Moscow - he will get hit on the head by a democratizer immediately.
      1. Lopatov
        Lopatov 31 August 2020 21: 38
        Quote: Fibrizio
        Maybe they lie to us about the fact that the "West" is just waiting to start a full-scale war against us?

        Or maybe this is not "you are lying", but "you are not telling the truth"?
        For personally, I have never heard of "The West" is just waiting to start a full-scale war against us "(c)
        “West” is cowardly, “West” is pampered, “West” doesn’t want to fight at all. He wants others to do it for him. But this does not mean that at least something depends on his opinion ...

        Quote: Fibrizio
        P is propaganda. Somehow it does not fit with reality. Of all NATO, only the United States and Japan (Turkey is not interested in us) would really not refuse to fight. And then, with the proviso that they will mutuz the weak.

        And this is propaganda in its purest form, and rather low-quality at that.

        Moreover, I am more than sure that you yourself realize that the Americans do not care deeply about the desire or unwillingness of some Germans to fight with Russia.
        The Americans are seeking constant pressure from the "West" on Russia. Pressure that is likely to lead to a military escalation, thereby trying to free their hands on the Chinese issue.

        Quote: Fibrizio
        The British are no fools to come to us, and we have no fleet to sail to them and land.

        It is a shame not to know the history so much. The British invaded Russia at least twice.

        Quote: Fibrizio
        I've been to Western Europe. People's thinking has changed. They are simply not ready for total war at all. And the initiator of it will be quickly thrown out of the power.

        And this is what?
        Cynical agitprop or overwhelming naivety?
  3. paul3390
    paul3390 31 August 2020 11: 11
    And for some reason this misunderstanding is still considered to be like a great power .. request
  4. Boratsagdiev
    Boratsagdiev 31 August 2020 11: 17
    Now they seem to have completely abandoned upgrades and the release of new cars (according to Challenger).
  5. wow
    wow 31 August 2020 11: 26
    So, what is next ... !? Will all these pieces of iron be rummaged around the island?
  6. iouris
    iouris 31 August 2020 12: 22
    This is the decline of the tank theme.
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov 31 August 2020 14: 02
      Quote: iouris
      This is the decline of the tank theme.

      Rather, the decline of the British SV.
      Amid screeching about the "Russian military threat," they are being actively reduced. Tanks are just a consequence. And one of the.
  7. 501Legion
    501Legion 31 August 2020 14: 23
    great article.
    I am glad that the adversaries are not doing well, most likely due to the pandemic the reduction in the plans will be very large
    1. Fibrizio
      Fibrizio 31 August 2020 16: 19
      On the contrary, it is bad. Free up money for economic development. And the economy is a flywheel, the faster it turns, the easier it is to turn. There will be a developed economy and a budget surplus - tanks will be bought in any quantity and the most modern ones.
      In fact, this park is still idle for them and is unlikely to be useful to them in the coming years. And the Papuans can drive and BMP.
      1. Alf
        Alf 31 August 2020 20: 02
        Quote: Fibrizio
        Free up money for economic development.

        Is not a fact. Royal Navy can squeeze money for itself. The Queen is still limping ...
  8. Zum
    Zum 31 August 2020 16: 59
    Challenger 2 ..... a funny tank ...... and a tower and a VLD structure ....
  9. Ivan Tixiy
    Ivan Tixiy 31 August 2020 18: 13
    It was reported that the Americans convinced the British government to abandon their own production of armored vehicles
  10. Andrey83
    Andrey83 31 August 2020 20: 39
    Excellent article.
    Thanks to the author.
  11. bk0010
    bk0010 31 August 2020 21: 06
    Not an armored fist, but some kind of stump. It’s even a shame: they don’t take into account the possibility of our landing at all? Or are they going to meet him again with lances for the militia?
    1. 31 August 2020 22: 41
      What landing? Russian-speaking elite ,,? So they settled there long ago. As V.S. Vysotsky sang: ,, .. here is my brainchild. Here is my business and my relatives .. ,,. But they pose no threat to Britain. They are a threat to Russia.
      They are forcing the indigenous peoples of Russia to pay the West in general and Britain in particular, such a peculiar kind of money in the form of a crazy exchange rate of the ruble against the dollar, euro and pound. For a pound, these modern "Khivi" with their foreign owners demand from "dear Russians" about 100 rubles. What "landings", what "peaks", if we are very similar to the semi-colony of the West in general and Britain in particular? We are a little bit like an occupied territory. Not? Can not be? Seemed?
      For reference ... A spiteful nemchura, for example, during the occupation period, demanded only 10 rubles for its stamp. Or TWO (!) PLN in Western Ukraine. If SHO.
      ... They've been milking Russia for 30 years already. And what if the cow, in camouflage livery, and the shepherds taught her to frown sternly to laugh? ,, Milkers ,, giggle at themselves and ... intensely and happily ,, milk ,,
    2. iouris
      iouris 1 September 2020 19: 54
      Quote: bk0010
      It's even a shame: they do not take into account the possibility of our landing at all?

      Yeah. They did not wait for the Russians to free them: the Russians are so busy with themselves that they have no time for England. Not everyone, of course. For thirty years, the "Russians" have bought only one football club and one newspaper. But the noise ... Tanks are no longer needed.