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Last Updated: July 7, 2006

CHALLENGER 2

The Challenger 2 is the first British Army tank since World War II to be designed, developed and
produced exclusively by a single prime contractor, Vickers Defence Systems, with set reliability goals
laid down in the fixed price contract. Challenger 2 was designed and manufactured at both Vickers
sites, Barnbow Leeds and Scottswood Newcastle.

The hull and automotive parts of the Challenger 2 are based upon its predecessor Challenger 1,
but Challenger 2 incorporates over 150 improvements aimed at increasing reliability and
maintainability. The turret of Challenger 2 is a totally new design. Armour is an uprated version of
Challenger 1's Chobham armour. The Challenger 2 is the best protected tank in NATO (10)
incorporating Chobham second-generation armour plating. Its NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical
protection) system is capable of dealing with all known threats and, for the first time in any British
tank, the crew compartment has both a heating and a cooling system.

The main armament consists of a Royal Ordnance 120 mm rifled tank gun designated the L30. It
also incorporates a McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems 7.62 mm chain gun, which is already in
service in the British Army, being installed in the GKN Defence Warrior mechanized combat vehicle,
and a 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun. The Challenger 2's fire control system is the latest-
generation digital computer from Computing Devices Company (CDC) of Canada and is an improved
version of that installed in the US M1A1 Abrams tank. It also has growth capacity for future
enhancement such as a Battlefield Information Control System and navigation aids. The Challenger 2
carries a crew of 4 and has a combat weight of 62.5 tonnes. It has a maximum road speed of 56 km/h

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and a range of 250 km cross country and 450 km on the road.

The Challenger 2 (CR2) project includes the development and production of 386 CR2 Main Battle
Tanks (MBTs), 22 Driver Training Tanks (DTTs), CHARM 3 ammunition and a full support package
including training equipment and initial spares.

Prime Contractor was Vickers Defence Systems plc. Vickers Defence Systems started work on
the Challenger 2 in November 1986 as a private venture and shortly afterwards, in March 1987, made
its first presentation of the vehicle to the British Ministry of Defence. In February 1988, Vickers
submitted a formal proposal regarding the tank to the MOD following the issue of the staff
requirement. In December 1988 it was announced that Vickers Defence Systems was to be awarded a
£90 million contract to undertake a demonstration phase (also referred to as the proof of principle
phase) which lasted until September 1990. Vickers Defence Systems acquisition was completed on 30
September 2002, by Alvis PLC.

The operations of Vickers Defence Systems were merged with those of Alvis' existing UK
armoured vehicle company,Alvis Vehicles Ltd, in a combined UK business. In order to benefit from the
heritage and reputation of both Alvis and Vickers, it has been decided to call the combined UK
company Alvis Vickers Limited (Telford, UK). This company was then acquired by BAE Systems, to
form BAE Systems' new Land Systems business through the bringing together of Alvis and RO Defence.

In June 1991 the British Government selected the Challenger 2 and placed an order worth £520
million for 127 Challenger 2 MBTs and 13 driver training tanks. Production began in 1993 and the first
vehicles were delivered in July 1994. The Challenger 2 is produced at the Vickers Defence Systems
plants in Leeds and Newcastle. There are over 250 subcontractors (both UK and Overseas) involved at
some point in the manufacturing process. Among the most significant are: Royal Ordnance (Main and
Secondary armaments); Blair Catton (Track); and GEC-Marconi (Gun Control).

The requirement to replace Challenger 1 (CR1) MBT led to the placement of a follow-on order
with Vickers Defence Systems. In July 1994, Vickers Defence Systems received a further order from
the UK MOD for the supply of 259 Challenger 2 and nine driver training tanks plus training and logistic
support. The total value of the contract was £800 million.

The CR2 In-Service Reliability Demonstration (ISRD) milestone was successfully achieved in
January 1999. The ISRD took place from September to December 1998 and tested 12 British Army
crewed MBTs at the Bovington test tracks and Lulworth Bindon Ranges. The ISRD was a great success
in that CR2 not only achieved the targets but exceeded them in all areas set by the Customer's Staff
Requirement.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Germany, the first of six post-SDR Armoured Regiments,
started to take delivery of CR2 in January 1998 and received the 38th in time to meet the June 1998
in-service date. Deliveries of CR2 are continuing and it is planned that each of the six Armoured
Regiments will be fully equipped with their tanks and associated logistic support package by end of
2000.

The conversion from CR1 to CR2 Regiments is being assisted by a comprehensive suite of
training aids, ranging from simple wall charts to highly sophisticated, computer-based gunnery
simulators. A range of CR2 training aids and support equipment are also being provided for the Royal
Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) to assist the task of fault diagnosis, test, repair, calibration
and system performance monitoring.

The Challenger 2 (CR2) project includes the development and production of 386 CR2 Main Battle
Tanks (MBTs), 22 Driver Training Tanks (DTTs), CHARM 3 ammunition and a full support package
including training equipment and initial spares. Following international competition for a requirement to
replace Chieftain MBT, a contract was placed with Vickers Defence Systems in June 1991 and included
production of 127 CR2 MBTs and 13 CR2 DTTs. The requirement to replace Challenger 1 (CR1) MBT led
to the placement of a follow-on order with Vickers Defence Systems during July 1994 for an additional
259 CR2 MBTs and nine CR2 DTTs.

The CR2 In-Service Reliability Demonstration (ISRD) milestone was successfully achieved in
January 1999. The ISRD took place from September to December 1998 and tested 12 British Army
crewed MBTs at the Bovington test tracks and Lulworth Bindon Ranges. The ISRD was a great success
in that CR2 not only achieved the targets but exceeded them in all areas set by the Customer's Staff
Requirement.

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The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Germany, the first of six post-SDR Armoured Regiments,
started to take delivery of CR2 in January 1998 and received the 38th in time to meet the June 1998
in-service date. Deliveries of CR2 are continuing and each of the six Armoured Regiments was fully
equipped with their tanks and associated logistic support package by end of 2001. The last of the
British Army’s 386 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks has been delivered by contractors at a ceremony on
Salsibury Plain, by September 17, 2002.

The conversion from CR1 to CR2 Regiments was assisted by a comprehensive suite of training
aids, ranging from simple wall charts to highly sophisticated, computer-based gunnery simulators. A
range of CR2 training aids and support equipment was also provided for the Royal Electrical and
Mechanical Engineers (REME) to assist the task of fault diagnosis, test, repair, calibration and system
performance monitoring.

Deployed with six Regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps in the UK and Germany, the
Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank has seen service in Bosnia and Kosovo and exercised in Canada, Oman
and Poland. It has surpassed reliability targets on both trials and on exercises. British Army Challenger
2 tanks were deployed on active service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In July 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence announced plans for a reduction of seven Challenger 2
armoured squadrons (about 100 tanks) by March 2007 and the change of role of one Challenger 2
regiment to an armoured reconnaissance regiment.

Challenger 2E, the latest development model, has been designed for the export market and is
suitable for harsh environmental and climactic conditions. The 2E has been extensively trialled in
Greece, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

New Main Gun for the Challenger 2: The Rheinmetall 120mm L55.

In January 2004, BAE Systems Land Systems (formerly RO Defence) was awarded a contract to
develop a new smoothbore 120 mm gun for the British Army Challenger tanks. Under the contract, a
Challenger 2 has been armed with the new Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun, as fitted on the Leopard
2A6 main battle tank, and began firing trials in January 2006.

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Challenger 2 MBT with the Rheinmetall 120mm L55 gun. Externally, however, it doesn't looks like it is, as the
original L30A1 rifled gun's cradle, clamp, thermal sleeve, fume extractor and muzzle reference system were
retained. Hence the new armament is called an "hibrid" tank gun.

Ballistically the new weapon is the same as the German 120 mm L/55 but externally can fit into
the space previously occupied by the L30. The current Challenger 2 installation retains the L30 rifled
gun's cradle, gun clamp, thermal sleeve, fume extractor and muzzle reference system. Following trials
in Germany the weapon was also tested in a static mount installed on a Centurion MBT chassis in mid-
2005 and later in the same year, was finally integrated into a Challenger 2 MBT.

This upgrade will enable the British main battle tank to use NATO-compliant 120mm
ammunition.

Static firing trials have already been conducted against a wide range of targets firing the
Rheinmetall 120 mm DM53 APFSDS projectile with a conventional penetrator. These trials, although
classified information, seem to have shown that the DM53 round gives enhanced performance over the
previous 120 mm Challenger Armament - CHARM 3 - firing a depleted uranium round.

Challenger 2E

The Challenger 2E MBT.

Challenger 2E has been specifically designed for demanding environmental and climatic
conditions and represents the latest evolution of the highly effective family of Challenger vehicles.

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The Challenger 2E speeding on the desert sand. This picture was probably taken in the desert when Vickers
Defence Systems was trying to sell it in the Gulf states.

The Challenger at the Gulf War.

An up-armored Challenger 1 of the Royal Hussars, during the Gulf War.

The Vickers Challenger was bought for the British Army after the Shah of Iran was deposed and
the order blocked. It was developed from the Chieftain but was much faster, better armed and
armoured but suffered from a weak fire control system. The Challenger gave the British Army a state-
of-the-art tank ten years before any replacement for the Chieftain was scheduled. The Challenger was
made for the desert, but did not have the chance to win its spurs until the Gulf War.

Actually, Vickers did not manufacture all the Challenger 1 MBTs, only the last regiment.
Challenger 1 was built at the Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Leeds (it became Royal Ordnance in
preparation for privatization), which Vickers bought just before the order for the 7th regiment was
placed.

Fitted with a 120mm L11 A5 gun, the Challenger's only weakness was its fire-control system,
which had been upgraded by the Gulf War. The gun could penetrate 400mm of armour and destroy
any Russian-built tank with a single hit. With nearly all of Iraq's' tanks being Russian built, the
Challenger was able to deal with them easily. Backed up by the massive air support and alongside the
Arab, French and American tanks the Allied armour ripped through the Republican Guard without much
trouble. The Challengers in Desert Storm mainly employed HESH (High Explosive Squash Head) shells
with their longer range as the Iraqi tanks armour wasn't up to Russian standards and would have been
a waste of the shorter-ranged high-density armour-piercing rounds.

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TURRET AND HULL

The tank accommodates four members of crew, the commander, gunner, driver and the loader,
for increased fightability and effective round-the-clock operation, which is strongly influenced by the
number of crew which can be carried. The commander's station is on the right and is equipped with
eight periscopes, magnification x 1, which provide 360 degree vision. Pushing a red command button
under each periscope causes the turret to slew round to align with the periscope. The gunner is seated
in front of and below the commander, and the loader is seated on the left. The loader's station is
equipped with a periscope. The driver's compartment is at the front of the tank.

WEAPONS

The Challenger 2, firing its 120 mm L30 gun, produced by the Royal Ordnance division of British Aerospace
Defence Ltd at Nottingham, UK.

Challenger 2 is equipped with an L30, 120 mm rifled tank gun from the Royal Ordnance division
of British Aerospace Defence Ltd at Nottingham, UK. The L30 construction incorporates a chromium
lining which provides a harder and smoother internal surface. The chromium lining gives increased
velocity and therefore penetration power to the round, greater precision and reduced wear on the
barrel. The gun is made from electro-slag refined steel (ESR) and is insulated with a thermal sleeve.
The gun is fitted with a muzzle reference system and fume extraction to remove the gasses from the
barrel. The turret is capable of 360 degree rotation and the weapon elevation range is from -10 to +20
degrees.

The target engagement sequence has been designed for simplicity of operation in battlefield
conditions. The same engagement sequence is followed for static and moving targets in daylight or by
night. The gunner or the commander aligns an aiming mark on the target, presses the laser
rangefinder button and then presses the fire button.

The 120 mm L30 gun fires all current 120 mm ammunition. There is capacity for 50 projectiles,
which can be a mix of armour piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), high explosive squash
head (HESH) or smoke rounds. The L30 gun can also fire the Depleted Uranium (DU) round with a
stick charge propellant. Depleted Uranium has a density approximately two and a half times higher
than that of steel and the mass of the DU projectile provides high penetration characteristics. The first

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depleted uranium round, the L30, is part of the Charm 1 gun, charge and projectile system. A
Charm 3 system is under development in which the depleted uranium projectile has a higher length to
diameter aspect ratio for increased penetration performance. The ammunition, being of the separate
projectile and charge loading type, allows the explosive ammunition to be stowed below the turret
ring. Armoured bins provide the stowage for the charges.

The gun control is provided by an all-electric gun control and stabilization system from GEC
Marconi Radar and Defence Systems of Leicester, UK. The Challenger 2 is also equipped with a
McDonnell Douglas 7.62 mm chain gun, which is located to the left of the main tank gun. The loader
seated on the left hand side has a 7.62 mm GPMG anti-air machine gun, type L37A2, mounted on the
cupola.

On each side of the front of the turret are five L8 smoke grenade dischargers, from the Helio
Mirror Company of Kent, UK. The Challenger 2 can also set a smoke screen by the injection of diesel
fuel into the engine exhausts.

The Challenger 2 is equipped with a Military Standard 1553 data bus. The fire control computer
is a digital computer from Computing Devices Company of Ontario, Canada. The digital CDC computer
has capacity for additional systems, for example a Battlefield Information Control System, and
navigation and training systems.

In January 2004, BAE Systems' Land Systems was awarded a contract to develop a new
smoothbore 120mm gun for the British Army Challenger tanks. Rheinmetall of Germany will provide
examples of the L55 smoothbore gun fitted on the Leopard 2A6 for the program. A technical
demonstrator will be produced by 2006.

SENSORS

The commander has a Gyrostabilized site, model VS 580-10, from SFIM Industries of France.
The upper unit of the VS 580, containing the Gyrostabilized panoramic sight and electronics, is
mounted on the turret roof. A neodinium yttrium aluminium garnet, Nd:YAG, laser rangefinder is
incorporated into an intermediate assembly which joins the upper unit to a lower telescope assembly
inside the turret. The telescope assembly houses the optical viewing system, hand controls, electronics
and the sight stabilization system. The sight provides all round vision without the commander having
to move his head. The elevation range is plus or minus 35 degrees. The field of view with x 3.2
magnification optics is 16.5 degrees, and with x 10.5 magnification optics, the field of view is 5
degrees.

A thermal imager, the Thermal Observation and Gunnery Sight II, TOGS II, from Pilkington
Optronics of Glasgow, UK, provides night vision. The sensor is the UK TICM 2 thermal imager. The
imager is mounted inside an armoured barbette above the gun. An on-board compressor and gas
bottle pack provide cooling for the imager. Symbols are overlaid on the thermal image to show the
aiming marks and system status data. The thermal image, with magnification x 4 and x 11.5 is
displayed in the gunner's and commander's sights. The thermal image is also displayed on relaxed-
viewing monitors in the commander's and gunner's stations.

The gunner has a stabilized Gunner's Primary Sight, GPS, from Pilkington Optronics of Glasgow,
UK. The sight consists of a sight body with a visual sighting channel, a head unit with a stabilized
aiming mirror, a 4 Hz neodinium yttrium aluminium garnet Nd:YAG laser rangefinder and a display
monitor with a monocular eyepiece. The laser rangefinder with wavelength 1.064 microns, operates
over the range 200 meters to 10 kilometers. The range accuracy is plus or minus 5 meters and the
discrimination is 30 meters The gunner is also equipped with a reversionary mode telescope, model
L30, from Nanoquest, mounted coaxially with the main gun.

The driver is equipped with a Passive Driving Periscope, PDP, from Pilkington Optronics. The
periscope uses a night vision image intensifier device. At night the tank is able to achieve speeds
comparable to day-time speeds using the passive driving periscope and without the use of artificial
light.

The Military Standard 1553 data bus interfaces the Gunner's Primary Sight and the thermal

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imaging system to the fire control computer.

ENGAGEMENT PROCEDURE

Challenger 2, negotiating rough ground.

The commander aligns the roof mounted panoramic sight on a target and presses the align
switch to slew the turret round until the gun is automatically positioned on the target. The gunner then
takes over the engagement of the target, and presses the laser rangefinder and the fire buttons to fire
the gun. As soon as the gunner has taken over the engagement of the target, the tank commander is
able to locate and take range measurement of a second target using the commander's sight. The data
for both targets, the first target being engaged by the gunner and the second target, are stored in the
digital fire control computer. When the gun has been fired and the kill assessment on the first target
completed, the commander presses the align switch which results in the turret slewing round to align
the gun on the second target and automatically firing the gun. The operational procedure greatly
enhances the firepower of the tank, in that the Challenger can effectively engage targets in rapid
succession.

SAFETY

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The Challenger 2 MBT is one of the heaviest and best protected tanks in the world.

The design of Challenger 2 has given emphasis to crew safety and tank survivability. The turret
is protected with second generation Chobham armour which provides increased resistance to
penetration by anti-tank weapons. The tank is protected against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC)
warfare by an NBC protection system (with full overpressure filtered air) located in the turret bustle.
The electronics systems are protected against nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

The movement of the turret and gun is by a solid state electric drive rather than by high
pressure hydraulic drive. The electric drive removes the risk associated with rupturing of high pressure
hydraulic hoses in the crew compartment. The stowage for explosives is below the turret ring which
provides a less vulnerable position than in the turret bustle.

The turret and the hull designs incorporate stealth technology to minimize the radar signature.

TRIALS

Challenger 2 has successfully completed trials with the British Army and the Royal Army of
Oman. All the performance parameters were demonstrated, including the weapon systems, reliability
and survivability. The performance of the Chobham armour was demonstrated in repeated firings trials
on the Challenger 2 turret with modern anti-tank weapons. The result of the trial was that the
complete turret survived without penetration and the sighting system allowed the gun to be laid and
fired.

PROPULSION

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The Challenger 2 making its 1,200 HP engine do "some excercise"...

The Challenger 2 has a 12 cylinder 1200 horsepower diesel engine, from Perkins Engines
(Shewsbury) Ltd of Shropshire, UK., and a David Brown gearbox, model TN54, with 6 forward and 2
reverse gears. The maximum speed by road is 59 kilometer/hour and mean speed 40 kilometers./hour
cross country. The range is given as 450 kilometers. by road and typically 250 kilometers. cross
country.

Challenger 2 characteristics, technical performance, and specifications:

Challeger 2 cutout drawing.

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General characteristics / technical performance

Engine: Perkins Condor CV12 1200bhp


Gearbox: David Brown TN54 epicyclical, 6 fwd 2 rev
Suspension: Hydrogas variable spring rate
Track: William Cook Defence; hydraulically adjusted double pin
Speed: 59 kph (road); 40 kph (mean cross country)
Main Armament: Royal Ordnance 120mm L30 gun
Ammunition: CHARM 3, HESH and Smoke
Secondary Armament: Hughes 7.62mm coaxially mounted chain gun and 7.62mm loader's hatch mounted GPMG
Smoke Dischargers: Exhaust smoke injection and two sets of five L8 grenade dischargers
Commander: Gyrostabilized fully panoramic site with laser range finder and thermal imager
Gunner: Gyrostabilized primary site with laser range finder and thermal imager, and coaxially mounted auxiliary
sight
Driver: Day and night periscopes
Loader: Day periscope

SPECIFICATIONS

Crew: Commander, gunner, loader, driver


Weight: 62500 kilograms
Hull dimensions: approximate length 8.330 meters x width 3.50
meters
approximate length with gun forward, 11.50 meters
approximate height 2.50 meters
Speed: 59 kilometers./hour by road
40 kilometers./hour cross country
Range: 450 kilometers. by road
250 kilometers. cross country
Armament: one 120 mm, model L30 gun
one 7.62 mm Chain Gun
one 7.62 mm, model L37A2 anti-aircraft gun

RESOURCES

Army Technology - Current Projects Website

FAS - Military Analisys Network

The Gulf War - 1991 - Operation Granby

The ARMOR Site! is © Copyright 1997-2006 Fabio Prado . All Rights Reserved.

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