Rheinmetall has announced it won a British contract valued €770 million to modernize Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs).
In all, 148 Challenger 2 MBTs will be upgraded with the 120mm smoothbore main armament from Rheinmetall, together with a completely new turret structure, including a digital system architecture. Forming part of the British Army’s Challenger 2 Life Extension Project, or LEP, the modernization programme is poised to convert this tank into the new Challenger 3, keeping it in service for decades to come. The programme will take place during the 2021-2027 timeframe. Just announced in Telford (UK), the contract is worth around €770 million (£665 million), the company said in a release Monday.
The latest generation L55A1 smoothbore gun from Rheinmetall will place the modernized Challenger at the forefront of NATO tank technology. The Challenger 3 will be a network-enabled, digital tank featuring unsurpassed lethality and greatly improved survivability on the battlefield. It will be able to fire current and future Rheinmetall 120mm kinetic energy rounds and programmable multipurpose ammunition. Combined with the latest fire control technology and sensor systems, this will significantly boost the vehicle’s combat effectiveness, resulting in remarkably accurate firepower.
Much of the upgrade work will be carried out in the UK at the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) plant in Telford in the West Midlands. The company boasts a rich heritage, having delivered the first Challenger 2 tanks to the British Army over 25 years ago. RBSL is a joint venture between Rheinmetall and BAE Systems, with Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH holding 55% of the shares.
The new vehicle will be armed with the latest 120mm high-pressure L55 smoothbore gun, which fires subcalibre KE projectiles and programmable multipurpose ammunition. Delivering enhanced accuracy and penetrating power, the gun system features fire control technology.
A new turret structure including improved survivability systems assures maximum crew protection. The main optical sights improves the target acquisition and tracking capability of both the commander and gunner.