Judging by how events are unfolding, it is quite possible (we have already considered it) when their Challenger-2 will meet in confrontation with our T-90M. In fact, in place of the Russian tank anyone can turn out to be, from the T-62M to the T-90M, and here an interest arises: can a British tank really be able to show something like that on the battlefield?
Residents of the British Isles are considered by many to be reserved and conservative. In fact, those who have never been to British League football may think so. But yes, there is conservatism. But in fact, it is also quite flexible. Here the best example is Triumph, one of the oldest (1887) motorcycle companies in the world. Yes, in 1983 the Triumph went bankrupt, the Japanese brought it under the monastery, but immediately got up and continued with the new owner to produce very decent equipment. Modern, with a twist. And not inferior to Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki and successfully competing with them.
So what is really new in British approaches is more than. To whom the Triumph is not enough, you can look at the Rolls-Royce, although this is no longer a completely British product. But - perfectly combining the classics and the latest technology.
Tanks are not cars and motorcycles, yes. Tanks may not work that way.
It all started in the late 80s of the last century, when the understanding came to British heads that something had to be changed. There was a carriage: the implementation of a very promising project by the same Rolls-Royce under the name MTV-80 failed. The tank was supposed to become an opponent of the Soviet T-64 and T-72, but already at the level of models it became clear that the T-64 could not be caught up. There was no need to talk about the T-72 at all.
The export version of the MTV-80, called "Shir-2", even began to be built under a contract with Iran. But bad luck, a revolution broke out in Iran and the supply of tanks had to be forgotten. And "Shir-2" was already in the metal ...
And then the British canceled all work on the MTV-80 and, on the basis of the already built Shir-2, they began to do something that would allow them to recoup the invested funds and at least slightly improve the situation. "Shir-2" began to turn into "Challenger-1". The principle “I blinded him from what was” in the flesh. But in general, the idea is not bad, the Shir-2 was a good tank for the Persians, so strong that it would be difficult for them to break it, and this is a very important point in this case. And therefore the temptation was great to make a tank for the British out of a tank for the Persians.
In general, it didn't work out. Leopard 2 and Abrams were much better. Therefore, British tank builders immediately began working on the second Challenger model. Externally, the second model did not differ much from the first, the main difference was the new combined armor "Burlington", which, judging by the calculations, should be twice as effective as the previous ones.
In 1991, the British military department arranged a competition for MBT for the army. Participants in the photo: Chieftain Mk10, Challenger 1, Leopard 2A4, M1A1 Abrams, Vickers Mk7/2.
The Vickers tank was recognized as the winner, it was hard to say what it was better than the others, evil tongues claim that the only advantage was that this tank was produced in the UK. But it is also an argument.
And literally after the Vickers, the Challenger 2 was thrown in. It was again tested together with the Leopard 2A5 and Abrams M1A2. And suddenly I liked the tank so much that it was decided to take it into service.
Tests that lasted until 1994 showed a number of positive aspects (good cross-country ability, good work of the hydropneumatic suspension, very accurate shooting from a place) and a number of shortcomings (work of the suspension "at the limit", less accurate shooting from the move, extremely unsatisfactory operation of the SLA).
In general, it turned out to be such a tank: "Challenger-2", aka "Challenger-1", aka "Shir-2" differed from the original project, in fact, only by the Dorchester armor, consisting of layers of steel and ceramics, padded with shock-absorbing layers.
In general, in terms of protection, the Challenger turned out to be a very complete machine. It was equipped with ROMOR dynamic protection units, which was very useful in terms of protection against the same RPG-7, a VIRSSS system was installed for thermal smoke production of a smoke curtain (they completely copied the Soviet TDA), two L8 five-shot smoke grenade launchers that can throw both smoke grenades and infrared jammers and fragmentation grenades.
But the main masterpiece of classicism is a cannon. Regular rifled gun ROF L30A1, inherited with minimal modifications from the old "Chieftain". The barrel length was increased to 55 calibers, and the rifling was left, and now it is one of the few tanks in the world with a rifled gun.
Today, many argue on the topic of whether this is a blessing or a victory. Yes, a rifled gun does not fire cumulative projectiles, since excessive rotation does not affect the formation of a cumulative jet in the best way. Therefore, it is better to stabilize normal cumulative shells in flight not by rotation, but by folding plumage, and for this a smooth barrel is just better.
The lack of rotation improves the formation of a cumulative jet and significantly increases armor penetration, while removing all restrictions on the speed of the projectile, which can exceed 1000 m/s. Well, the resource of a smooth barrel is much higher than that of a rifled one. But depleted uranium scrap dispersed in a grooved barrel is also a rather weighty argument.
The British military was absolutely satisfied with this alignment. The main projectile for the Challenger was the HESH ammunition, which could break the faces of both light armored vehicles such as infantry fighting vehicles / armored personnel carriers, and puzzle infantry that had settled in long-term structures. And ATGMs should generally fight enemy tanks, but in the absence of such, the British tank had quite sane armor-piercing shells.
And there was no need to worry about the resource of the gun barrel either: thanks to the use of electroslag remelted steel, the resource turned out to be no less than that of a smoothbore gun. 500 shots. The barrel bore is chrome-plated, and outside it is covered with a thermal protective casing, which reduces the effect of temperature differences on shooting accuracy. And the cherry is the stabilization of the trunk in two planes. Not very conservative, is it?
But if someone wants something like this, mossy - here's a separate-cartridge loading for you. Moreover, manually. No AZ, no MZ, everything is classic. The loader needs to take a projectile in one place, put it in a tray, then get a cap with gunpowder from another place, and an ignition tube from a third. That is, the loader is rushing around like hell around boilers in hell, on the go this is generally a special buzz and one can only dream of a high charging speed. However, dividing the shot into three parts significantly reduces the likelihood of detonation of the ammunition rack on impact. Armored containers for ammunition can hold 52 rounds. Enough for a fight.
The LMS, we admit, is decent, but not very reliable. If it does not refuse for some reason - even above average. Ballistic computer (digital, of course) with two 32-bit processors. The commander has a Sagem VS580-10 panoramic sight with gyro stabilization and a laser rangefinder. There is also a TOGS II sight with a night and thermal imaging channel. Well, to control the situation on the battlefield in the stern of the hull and on the turret in the rear, there are two wide-angle high-definition cameras.
Diesel engine. More precisely, the engines, since the first Challengers were equipped with Perkins 26.6 liter CV12 engines with a capacity of 1340 hp, and after 2010, during the modernization, the tanks were equipped with German engines (and German gearboxes) MT-883KA-500 with a capacity of 1500 forces. It is true that with relatives, that with imported engines, the Challenger is not fast. 40 km / h is the maximum speed that a tank weighing from 62 to 70 tons is capable of.
In general, the Challenger 2 does not stand out in any way from a series of other main battle tanks of our time. Tall (about 2,5 meters) and heavy are not pluses. But here it is worth remembering that historically the tank was created not for the narrow streets and light bridges of Europe, but for the desert expanses of Iran.
By the way, about Iran, more precisely, its enemy in wars and neighbor, Iraq. If the first semi-combat (or rather, political) use of the Challenger took place in Kosovo, where a British tank did not fire a single shot, then the Challenger participated in the war with Iraq in full.
A native of Yugoslavia, Bojan Tečić, who in 1990 served in the former 7th Armored Brigade of the Royal Armed Forces of Great Britain as a gunner on the Challenger 2 tank, in 2000 shared his memories of his participation in the Gulf War.
Britain then sent its entire 1st Armored Division, which consisted of two brigades and a bunch of related units, to the war with Iraq. 120 Challengers arrived in Iraq, and, importantly, the same number left for bases after the hostilities. There were losses in the tanks, but these were not Challengers, but 3 Centurions and 1 Scorpion, which cannot even be called a tank. Overall, the British lost more aircraft than tanks.
The British military (including the former Yugoslav, who became a subject of the Queen of Great Britain) used their Challengers very carefully. On the one hand, the tall design of the tank provided an acceptable view, on the other hand, it gave so many "dead" zones, especially in urban areas, that the crews were simply afraid to enter the cities.
In fact, it turned out that it is very easy to sneak up to a hefty tank within an effective shot distance from the same RPG-7 and fire this shot. The armor held, the defense coped, moreover, there were cases when the Challengers held 5-7 hits of RPG-7 grenades, but it turned out to be easier not to use these tanks in cities.
The 7th brigade operated in the area of the city of Basra, where they provided support for the main infantry forces storming the city. And then it turned out that the Challenger gun is a very convenient means of shooting Iraqi T-55s from a safe distance.
Yes, in this war it was the Challenger that set the record for tank destruction - 5,1 km. But this was an isolated case.
When Iraqi tanks were detected, the British crews tried to keep a safe distance of 2-2,5 km, at which the shells of the Soviet 100-mm D-10TS gun (the base model D-10 went into mass production in 1944) did not pose a danger. Yes, the D-10TS was also equipped with a position stabilizer in two planes, but something tells us that the 120-mm gun of the 1989 adoption will be more effective than the 100-mm gun of the 1944 model.
In addition, the laser rangefinder on the British tank turned out to be very useful for this scenario. Whether the Iraqi T-55s were equipped with at least the Soviet KTD-2-2 is a question. Most likely not, since the KTD-2-2 went into production in 1986, and the events described took place in 1990, and Iraq stocked up with tanks much earlier.
There was a clash of tanks from two different eras, in which, as expected, the more modern one won. Considering that the effective firing range of the D-10TS did not exceed 1,5 km, the British tanks simply shot the Iraqi ones, as at a training ground.
Even if we accept the tendency of all the military in reports to exaggerate their victories, say, by half, then even in this case, removing half of the destroyed Iraqi T-55s from the total number announced by the command of the British 1st Armored Division, then 150 tanks is a very decent figure . In general, the British reported more than 300 destroyed and captured enemy tanks.
Techich himself spoke very modestly about his victories. That is, he sometimes observed a hit in an enemy tank, but if there was no detonation of ammunition with external special effects, then it was difficult to draw a conclusion about the destruction.
In general, the Soviet T-55s were not worthy rivals for the Challenger.
Yes, not so big, faster and more maneuverable, but with a very weak gun, unable to penetrate the armor of a British tank at distances greater than 1 km. And in close combat, as you understand, the British were not eager.
That is why victories looked so impressive against the background of losses. But there's nothing you can do about it, and it's so clear that if the Iraqi T-55s had acted from ambushes in the forest belts, the alignment for the Challengers could have been completely different. But since there were no forest belts in the desert expanses of Iraq, nothing prevented the British tanks from overshooting the Iraqi ones without much difficulty.
In general, the Challenger proved to be a very strong machine, not afraid of the RPG-7, which was so adored in all the armies of the Middle East. Of course, the stories and evidence that the machines withstood more than 10 hits from the RPG-7 can be safely classified as wartime tales (in the annals stories there was a battle where the Challenger withstood 14 RPG hits and 1 from the Milan ATGM), but in the end the Challenger was not lost, which indicates both the decent characteristics of the machine and the competent use in terms of tactics.
The first official loss of the Challenger occurred in Iraq, but during a completely different operation, on the night of March 24, 2003. The crew of a British tank, moving along the route, noticed a certain "bunker" located on the side of the road. Having notified the command of a possible obstacle, the crew commander requested permission to open fire, and this permission was granted. The "bunker" was opened fire from a cannon. From the second projectile, the target was hit, as evidenced by a strong explosion.
The whole problem was that the role of the "DOT" was played not only by the same "Challenger", but also from the same unit, it was just sent on patrol a few hours earlier.
Probably, the British tankers were very surprised when they began to fly into the stern. But the fact is that the second shell turned out to be fatal, the ammunition partially detonated and claimed the lives of two crew members.
In 2007, the Challenger was completely disabled by a land mine planted on the road.
Such frankly small losses can be explained by the upgrades that were carried out in relation to all the Challenger tanks that were sent to fight in Iraq. ROMOR dynamic protection units and anti-cumulative screens were added to the Dorchester armor, which also protected the bottom of the front of the tank. However, when a high-explosive charge of great strength was detonated, even this was not enough.
In order to remedy the situation, another set of upgrades was developed, called the "Streetfighter". That is, based on the name, the modernization was supposed to improve the protection of the tank in urban battles. New side screens and overhead armor blocks from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems were developed, and dynamic protection blocks on the lower armor plate, which just covers the driver, were replaced with Dorchester armor blocks.
As a kind of intermediate result: the history of the combat use of the Challenger 2, let's say, is not extensive enough to make clear and far-reaching conclusions. British designers, perhaps, can be congratulated: the car turned out to be strong, the crew always has a chance of salvation, no matter what they fly into the Challenger. The tank, of course, is heavy, hence not fast.
But we can conclude that the success of using the Challenger mainly depends on the literacy and training of the crew once and the understanding of the command of the nuances of the application - two.
And now the Challengers will go to fight as part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. What layouts can be here?
In fact, tank duels, which a year ago were considered an anachronism (“Tanks do not fight tanks!” Many experts said), are completely commonplace in the war in Ukraine. And therefore, the Challengers have a small chance of meeting Russian tanks (due to the small number of vehicles supplied), but there is. It is clear that after the first 14 tanks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine may receive some more, fortunately, the British need to put the second Challenger somewhere, because work on the third is on the way. And the fact that 227 Challengers will not go to Ukraine, since charity is a consignment note, you must understand that the use of the Challenger-2 in the battles in Ukraine is a decent advertisement that will allow you to shove the remaining tanks into all sorts of Omans and Jordans. For money, of course.
The fact that the Challenger can easily cope with the T-62M is understandable. Most likely, the T-72B3 will also have problems with this tank, the question is where and how to use it.
The L30 gun will give a great advantage when firing from closed positions (which is clowning in the performance of tanks with smoothbore guns), when firing at targets at long distances (and they are in abundance in the steppes of southern Ukraine), but will lose in close combat. Automatic loaders of Russian guns from 2A46 to 2A82 easily provide a rate of fire of 8-12 rounds per minute, while the three-component manual loading of the British gun (given that the components are at different angles) is unlikely to be able to provide faster loading.
It has been verified that the AZ of Russian tanks takes an average of 4 to 5 seconds to reload the gun. Manual loading of the Challenger starts from 8 seconds and continues depending on the degree of training of the loader and the degree of his fatigue. According to our tank expert Aleksey Kuznetsov, loading a tank into which a couple of shells have landed, no matter whether armor-piercing or fragmentation, will reload his gun in no less than 30 seconds.
That is, our T-90 will be able to “buy” a British colleague at least 4 times in response to 1 shot. It's a lot. This means that at close range, the Challenger simply will not have a chance.
Now the question is what is "close range". We discard all the numbers in the official data and stop at this: 2,2 km. This is the distance up to which our smoothbore guns can be guaranteed to deal damage. Further already everything, further a fantasy and luck. Up to 2,2 km, Russian shells will be able to use all or almost all, but with 2,3 km, the British, fired from rifled barrels, will rule the ball.
Of course, the T-90 from a distance of 5,1 km, as the T-55 was hit, cannot be penetrated. Wrong tank from the word "absolutely". But from 2,3 to 4 km - there are certain concerns here and they can be easily realized.
As for dynamic maneuvering, then the battlefield is behind our tank.
Still, a difference of 10 tons (or maybe more, the Challenger fully “packed” in defense weighs under 70 tons) is a lot. Yes, in the sands of Iraq or Iran, this would not be so significant, but in the south of Ukraine, soaked with spring (autumn, summer) rains, this difference in weight does not play in favor of the British car. We are talking about bridges.
Despite a slightly weaker engine, the Russian tank is faster, which will also give certain advantages.
In general, the Challenger, if used correctly, it will become a very serious opponent. Here, of course, a lot depends on the command and on the training of the crew. And vice versa, if mistakes are made, this tank can very easily turn into a target.
This applies to the Russian T-90 to the same extent.