Military Review

Challenger 3: Great Britain decided on "new old" tanks

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Photo: Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL)


Answer new challenges


Modern British tank building has few reasons to be proud. Especially if we compare the situation with what we see on the example of other leading European countries. The pinnacle of the tank building industry in Foggy Albion was the Challenger 2, based on the Challenger developed in the 2s. "Challenger 80" was actively used in Kosovo and Iraq, but on the whole the machine can hardly be called successful: at least from the point of view of mass scale. Except Britain, танк ordered only Oman: 18 units in 1993 and another 20 in 1997. The total number of Challengers 2 built is just over 400 tanks.

For comparison, the extremely expensive and technically complex French Leclerc was built in a series of more than 870 cars. And the famous German Leopard 2 was produced in the amount of 3600 units. In May 2009, BAE Systems announced that it was closing production of the Challenger 2 due to a lack of orders. And last year, Western media wrote that the British military were discussing the possibility of abandoning tanks in order to focus on the latest weapons. By that time, the UK had 220 Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Challenger 3: Great Britain decided on "new old" tanks

All this happened against the background of a reduction in the number of military personnel in the ground forces: from more than 100 thousand at the beginning of the decade to 80 thousand in 2020. This was an obvious consequence of the UK's exit from the EU, as well as the epidemic that hit the British budget.

The situation could not but cause concern among military experts. Moreover, Great Britain is at the forefront of European countries that traditionally view Russia as a potential threat.

There is one - the main - moment that influenced everyone. By showing the world a new T-14 based on the "Armata", Russia has clearly shown that it is too early to give up tanks. The Europeans picked up the baton. In 2019, the German army received the first Leopard 2A7V tank - the most advanced representative of its family. Not so long ago, Germany and France signed an agreement to create a fundamentally new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) tank. Which, among other things, should receive a completely new weapon: perhaps a promising 140-mm cannon from Nexter, and possibly a 130-mm gun from the German Rheinmetall. Both guns are currently under active development. Moreover, Nexter says that their brainchild will be "70 percent more effective" than the existing 120-mm NATO tank guns.

Attempt number three


As it became known recently, Great Britain may join the German-French project Main Ground Combat System, but at the first stage London will be limited to observer status. There are two important points here. First, it is not known whether Europe really wants to see a "renegade" or is it just a diplomatic maneuver. Secondly, a new generation tank will appear (if) at best in the mid-30s.

Apparently, the British decided that they could not afford to have outdated armored vehicles, despite the fact that they frankly did not have enough money. After much deliberation, the country's authorities decided to modernize their MBT. In total, as it became known, under the new program, it was decided to upgrade almost 3 vehicles to the level of Challenger 150.


Photo: Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL)

“Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) has been awarded a contract with the UK Department of Defense to upgrade 148 British Army [Challenger 2 to] Challenger 3 main battle tanks. $ 19 billion - Ed. Note) is a significant measure to support the well-being and economic recovery of the UK ",

- said in a statement cited by TASS.

The works will be carried out in the British cities of Telford, Washington and Bristol. The program will begin this year. The vehicle will have to enter service in 2027, and in 2030 it is expected to reach the stage of full combat readiness.

Instead of the British-designed 120mm L30 cannon, the new version of the tank will receive the Rheinmetall L120A55 1mm smoothbore cannon. The ammunition will include a programmable high-explosive fragmentation round DM11.


Photo: UK Department of Defense

They want to improve the capabilities of the machine thanks to digital architecture. Challenger 3 will boast two thermal imaging sights: for the commander and gunner, an automatic target tracking device and a thermal imaging observation device for the driver. They want to increase the level of protection of the tank, including through the installation of the so-called active protection complex (KAZ): its installation can be carried out under a separate contract. Instead of the 1200 horsepower Perkins diesel engine, the German MTU 1500 horsepower is to be installed.

Machine Evaluation


Experts assess the new version of modernization as "radical". The bmpd blog recalls that earlier the British were considering the option of a limited modernization under the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP). It involved improving the electronics of the tank without changing weapons: in 2019, the program was sent for revision.

Foggy Albion officials are generous with praise for the Challenger 3.

“Because of this, it is better than what the Russians have now. Because of this gun. "

- said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.


Photo: the-sun.com

This seems like an exaggeration: it is wrong to compare what the enemy has now with what you will have tomorrow. Especially if in the future he receives a completely new tank (T-14 based on the "Armata"), and Britain will remain with the old machine, albeit one that has undergone modernization. It is also noteworthy that the improvement was largely made possible due to the reduction of the fleet. In the future, the British will write off 77 Challenger 2s, leaving only the upgraded vehicles. That is, only 148 units.

With all the seriousness of modernization, the country will significantly reduce its tank fleet. And will Challenger 3 be able to compensate for this reduction? The question is rather rhetorical.

In general, the British are doing what they can in the current realities. Obviously, Great Britain will not be able to afford independent development of a new generation tank, as we see in the example of France and Germany. It is expensive and fraught with serious risks.

It is also impossible to completely abandon Challenger 2: it is one of the national symbols. And besides, it is an irreplaceable assistant on the battlefield (the British have no other tanks). So, perhaps, this is not the last version of the Challenger modernization.
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  1. svp67
    svp67 14 May 2021 18: 30
    +1
    The British had to install a Leo-2A7 turret on their chassis, it would be better
    1. RealPilot
      RealPilot 14 May 2021 19: 06
      -2
      Is this tank better than ours? I do not believe!

      First, take a look at its NLD (lower frontal part). It is very thin (about 80-100 mm) and very raised up, without combined armor. Given the high profile of the tank itself, this is a vulnerable spot. NLD breaks through almost everything that is in service. Again, from the heading angles into the lateral projection, it will also break through, they do not plan to book additional sides. It's already heavy ...

      Comparing with our T-72-80-90 families, it can be noted that on them the NLD is located lower and at a more convenient angle for shielding by terrain. Getting into this part of the tank is much more difficult. Our tanks are lighter and lower in height.

      Secondly, the gun is offered by a German one. That is, the British industry will not cope, once again. Of course, compatibility with Leopard shells is convenient, but I see no reason to be particularly proud.
      1. svp67
        svp67 14 May 2021 19: 27
        +2
        Quote: RealPilot
        Secondly, the gun is offered by the German.

        This is the BEST NATO tank gun. And there is nothing shameful here, the M1 Abrams also has a licensed German cannon, though weaker, only 44 caliber
        1. 3danimal
          3danimal 15 May 2021 02: 48
          0
          The Abrams uses projectiles with a larger weight of gunpowder, judging by the initial velocities of their OBPS of the latest models.
      2. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 14 May 2021 22: 13
        +3
        The lower frontal part about which you write is located under
        NLP (almost vertical) and having a steel equivalent of 350 mm.
        It is very difficult to get into the NLD, only from the bottom of the trench or from the basement.
        All the noise was raised when one Challenger was hit in the front "under the belly"
        from an RPG trench near Basra.
        In Grozny, for example, several T-72s were shot down from the basements below.
        The bottom is a vulnerable part of the tank.
  2. Klingon
    Klingon 14 May 2021 18: 36
    0
    what for them a problem with Ch-3? - would sell their Ch-2, for example, Yohlopithek (on credit for expensive% wassat ), would buy a full-fledged Lev 2A7V + from the Germans and that's it, but they would sculpt a horse with a hippopotamus and vague prospects
    1. Kunich80
      Kunich80 14 May 2021 19: 15
      +2
      They still really need to fight on tanks, but the Turks already know what Leo is really. And Ch2 proved to be excellent in combat
      1. Andrei from Chelyabinsk
        Andrei from Chelyabinsk 14 May 2021 20: 46
        -1
        Quote: Kunich80
        And Ch2 proved to be excellent in combat

        This is where, can you tell me? Something vaguely remember that the machine is not so as to justify the hopes of British tankers ...
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 14 May 2021 22: 03
          +7
          In Iraq. During the assault on Basra.
          One tank was lost. He was shot from below from a trench under
          NLP.
          1. Kunich80
            Kunich80 15 May 2021 01: 16
            +5
            It was restored, and the tanker lost his toes, after which the NLD was reinforced in all the tanks. One in Iraq from a friendly aviation fire was indeed completely lost.
      2. Sanichsan
        Sanichsan 14 May 2021 23: 19
        -1
        Quote: Kunich80
        And Ch2 proved to be excellent in combat

        specify when and in what?
      3. 3danimal
        3danimal 15 May 2021 06: 12
        +1
        The Turks have a Leopard-2A5 modification of the late 80s-early 90s.
        We recall how we were told that Hussein's T-72 had old modifications ..
        Also here.
        In addition, in Syria, the T-72B3 and T-90 were quite successfully undermined (undermining the BC).
        I met information that the Turks stopped using the small ammo rack in the front of the hull, leaving only the main one in the turret niche.
        This dramatically increases survivability (but reduces ammo by 15 shells).
    2. 3danimal
      3danimal 15 May 2021 06: 14
      0
      The pride of how to occupy the Ch-2/3 manufacturer, not to lose experience in the production of MBT.
  3. Klingon
    Klingon 14 May 2021 20: 09
    +2
    Quote: Kunich80
    They still really need to fight on tanks, but the Turks already know what Leo is really. And Ch2 proved to be excellent in combat

    The Turks, if my memory serves me, have only 2A4s, and they rode on them. 2A4 with 2A7V + compare this how to compare a finger you know with what wassat
    2A4 is a mid-80s concept
  4. Diverter
    Diverter 14 May 2021 21: 41
    -4
    In Soviet times, we were told that the west was rotting. It seems that in the field of tank building, another enemy cap country has rotted. It is not able to develop a new tank, it is not able to overhaul / modernize all the tanks available, it is not able to maintain all the tanks. Key points will be imported - this also says a lot. And with 148 tanks in stock, that's less than 5 battalions. I think even just for the defense of the island it's about nothing.
    1. vadim dok
      vadim dok 15 May 2021 15: 48
      +1
      And the unparalleled "Armata" in the amount of 100500 copies is already in the series, the combatant units accepted it, ran it in and said Miracle, miracle, let's go again!
      1. Diverter
        Diverter 18 May 2021 23: 03
        0
        combat units have adopted the T 90M, and the T 14 is being tested. in geyrope, a fundamentally new weapon has not even begun to be designed
  5. Bogalex
    Bogalex 14 May 2021 22: 23
    +2
    Quote: RealPilot
    First, look at his NLD (lower frontal part)

    Well, in the image in the article for this very "NLP", the footnote is visible and the inscription under it "Enhanced hull protection" (Enhanced hull protection). Is not it so?
  6. RealPilot
    RealPilot 14 May 2021 23: 24
    -4
    Quote: Bogalex
    Quote: RealPilot
    First, look at his NLD (lower frontal part)

    Well, in the image in the article for this very "NLP", the footnote is visible and the inscription under it "Enhanced hull protection" (Enhanced hull protection). Is not it so?

    Thanks for the comment.
    I saw this in the illustration. But the advertising booklet and life are different things ...

    The lower side piece is in an almost vertical position. And, even if its armor resistance is equivalent to 350 mm of steel (as Voyaka Uh pointed out, with all due respect, although the reference thickness of the original tank is 80-100 mm), this part can be penetrated by a cumulative projectile without much difficulty (modern projectiles have an average armor penetration of up to 9 projectile diameters ). There is no dynamic defense, the meeting angle is almost straight.
    And even our old BOPS "hairpin" will take it, not to mention "mango" or "lead" ... It is not protected in the front projection below the tower.

    Take an aging tank, put a foreign cannon on it (albeit a good one), practically not increase the booking, and then call the new model "Challenger - 3" ... Well, so-so the result. I'm talking about that.
  7. Mark kalendarov
    Mark kalendarov 15 May 2021 10: 52
    0
    It's not even funny anymore ... 148 tanks. If you can't poop - don't torment your ass, Britain ...))))
  8. Bolt cutter
    Bolt cutter 15 May 2021 12: 44
    0
    This became an obvious consequence of the UK's exit from the EU.
    Each year, the UK gave approx. 14 billion (!) Pounds. With the price of Challenger 2 at 4.2 million, that's 3300 tanks per year.
  9. Split
    Split 15 May 2021 18: 25
    0
    Having such an NLD, you can pierce it with an anti-tank rifle
    Enchansed hull protection on the screen ... Rational booking? No, the English scientists haven't heard.
  10. NF68
    NF68 16 May 2021 16: 05
    0
    How many more articles about this tank will be written on VO?
  11. Igor Ushakov
    Igor Ushakov 16 May 2021 21: 34
    0
    Not so long ago, Germany and France signed an agreement to create a fundamentally new Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) tank. Which, among other things, should receive a completely new weapon: perhaps a promising 140-mm cannon from Nexter, and possibly a 130-mm gun from the German Rheinmetall. Both guns are currently under active development. Moreover, Nexter says that their brainchild will be "70 percent more effective" than the existing 120-mm NATO tank guns.
    and what do they have "fundamentally new"? After the Second World tank building, it follows practically the same beaten path - increasing armor as opposed to increasing the power of the enemy cannon and increasing the power of the cannon as opposed to increasing the enemy's armor.