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FV4034 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

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SKB
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FV4034 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Postby SKB » 01 May 2015, 13:11

Image
^ Challenger 2

Type: Main battle tank
Place of origin: United Kingdom
Service history: In service 1998–present
Used by: British Army, Oman Army
Wars: Iraq War

Production history
Manufacturer: Alvis plc, BAE Systems Land & Armaments
Unit cost £4,217,000
Produced 1993–2002
Number built: ≈ 446

Specifications
Weight: 62.5 tonnes (61.5 long tons; 68.9 short tons), with a combat ready weight of 75.0 tonnes (73.8 long tons; 82.7 short tons) with add-on armour modules.
Length: 8.3 m (27 ft 3 in), 13.50 m (44 ft 3 in) with gun forward
Width: 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in), 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in) with appliqué armour
Height: 2.49 m (8 ft 2 in)
Crew: 4 (commander, gunner, loader/operator, driver)
Armour: Chobham / Dorchester Level 2 (classified)
Main armament: L30A1 120 mm rifled gun with 49 rounds
Secondary armament: Coaxial 7.62 mm L94A1 chain gun EX-34 (chain gun), 7.62 mm L37A2 Commander's cupola machine gun
Engine: Perkins CV-12 V12 diesel 26 litre, 1,200 hp (890 kW)
Power/weight: 19.2 hp/t (14.3 kW/t)
Transmission: David Brown TN54 epicyclic transmission (6 fwd, 2 rev.)
Suspension: Hydropneumatic suspension
Ground clearance: 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in)
Fuel capacity: 1,592 litres (350 imp gal; 421 US gal)
Operational range: 550 km (340 mi) on road,[3] 250 km (160 mi) off road on internal fuel
Speed: 59 km/h (37 mph) on road, 40 km/h (25 mph) off road


Introduction
The FV4034 Challenger 2 is a British main battle tank (MBT) in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman. It was designed and built by the British company Vickers Defence Systems (now known as BAE Systems Land & Armaments).

Vickers Defence Systems began to develop a successor to Challenger 1 as a private venture in 1986. A £90 million deal for a demonstrator vehicle was finalised in January 1989. In June 1991, the Ministry of Defence placed a £520 million order for 140 vehicles, with a further 268 ordered in 1994. Production began in 1993 and the unit's tanks were delivered in July 1994, replacing the Challenger 1. The tank entered service with the British Army in 1998, with the last delivered in 2002. It is expected to remain in service until 2035. The Royal Army of Oman ordered 18 Challenger 2s in 1993 and a further 20 tanks in November 1997.

The Challenger 2 is an extensive redesign of the Challenger 1. Although the hull and automotive components seem similar, they are of a newer design and build than those of the Challenger 1 and only around 3% of components are interchangeable. A visual recognition feature is the armoured housing for the TOGS thermal gunsight; the Challenger 2 has this above the gun barrel, the Challenger 1 has it at the right hand side of the turret. The tank's drive system provides a 550 km range, with a maximum road speed of 59 km/h.

The Challenger 2 is equipped with a 120-millimetre (4.7 in) 55-calibre long L30A1 tank gun, the successor to the L11 gun used on the Chieftain and Challenger 1. Unique among NATO main battle tank armament, the L30A1 is rifled, because the British Army continues to place a premium on the use of High-explosive squash head (HESH) rounds in addition to armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding-sabot rounds. The Challenger 2 is also armed with a L94A1 EX-34 7.62 mm chain gun and a 7.62 mm L37A2 (GPMG) machine gun. Fifty eight main armament rounds and 4,200 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition are carried.

The Challenger 2 has a four-man crew. The turret and hull are protected with second generation Chobham armour (also known as Dorchester). On one occasion, in August 2006, during the post-invasion stage of the Iraq War, an RPG-29 was fired at a Challenger 2 that was climbing over a ramp. The armour on its front underside hull, which was not augmented with an explosive reactive armour package, was damaged. The tank subsequently returned to base under its own power and was quickly repaired and back on duty the following day. As a response to the incident, the explosive reactive armour package was replaced with a Dorchester block and the steel underbelly lined with armour as part of the 'Streetfighter' upgrade. To date, the only time the tank has ever been seriously damaged during operations was by another Challenger 2 in a 'blue on blue' (friendly fire) incident when the damaged tank had its hatch open at the time of the incident.

It has seen operational service in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.



History
The Challenger 2 is the third vehicle of this name, the first being the A30 Challenger, a World War II design using the Cromwell tank chassis with a 17-pounder gun. The second was the Persian Gulf War era Challenger 1, which was the British army's main battle tank (MBT) from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s.

Vickers Defence Systems began to develop a successor to Challenger 1 as a private venture in 1986. Following the issue of a Staff Requirement for a next-generation tank, Vickers formally submitted its plans for Challenger 2 to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Secretary of State for Defence George Younger announced to the House of Commons that Vickers would receive a £90 million contract for a demonstrator vehicle, a deal that was finalized in January 1989. The demonstration phase contained three milestones for progress, with dates of September 1989, March 1990, and September 1990. At the last of these milestones, Vickers was to have met 11 key criteria for the tank's design.

In June 1991, after competition with other tank manufacturers' designs (including the M1A2 Abrams and the Leopard 2 (Improved)), the MoD placed a £520 million order for 127 MBTs and 13 driver training vehicles. An order for a further 259 tanks and 9 driver trainers (worth £800 million) was placed in 1994. Oman ordered 18 Challenger 2s in 1993 and a further 20 tanks in November 1997.

Production began in 1993 at two primary sites: Elswick, Tyne and Wear and Barnbow, Leeds, although over 250 subcontractors were involved. The first tanks were delivered in July 1994.

The Challenger 2 successfully completed its Reliability Growth Trial in 1994. Three vehicles were tested for 285 simulated battlefield days. Each day consisted of:

* 27 km (17 mi) of on-road travel
* 33 km (21 mi) of off-road travel
* 34 main armament rounds fired
* 1,000 7.62 MG rounds fired
* 16 hours weapon system operation
* 10 hours main engine idling
* 3.5 hours main engine running

Challenger 2 Tank of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Squadron D) during live fire training exercises on Bergen-Hohne Training Area (Germany)
An equally important milestone was the In-Service Reliability Demonstration (ISRD) in 1999. 12 fully crewed tanks were tested at the Bovington test tracks and at Lulworth Bindon ranges. The tank exceeded all staff requirements.

The Challenger 2 entered service with the British Army in 1998 (with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards), with the last delivered in 2002. It serves with the Queen's Royal Hussars, the King's Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment, each of which is the tank Regiment of an Armoured Infantry Brigade. Under Army 2020, only three Challenger 2 Tank Regiments will remain: the Queen's Royal Hussars, the King's Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment; in addition, a single Army Reserve regiment, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, will provide Armoured Resilience.

Deliveries of the Challenger 2 to Oman were completed in 2001.

The Trojan minefield breaching vehicle and the Titan bridge-laying vehicle based on the chassis of the Challenger 2 were shown in November 2006; 66 are to be supplied by BAE Systems to the Royal Engineers, at a cost of £250 million.

A British military document from 2001 indicated that the British Army would not procure a replacement for the Challenger 2 because of a lack of foreseeable conventional threats in the future. However, IHS Jane's 360 reported on 20 September 2015 that following discussions with Senior Army Officers and Procurement Officials at DSEI 2015, as well as the head of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter, that the British Army was looking at either upgrading the Challenger 2 or outright replacing it. Sources confirmed that the future of the MBT was being considered at the highest levels of the Army. This stemmed from the British Army's concern with the new Russian T-14 Armata main battle tank and the growing ineffectiveness of the aging L30 rifled gun and its limited suite of ammunition. Further, it was confirmed that numerous armoured vehicle manufacturers had discussions with the MoD about a potential replacement for the Challenger 2. Shortly after, the British Army decided that purchasing a new tank would be too expensive and chose to proceed with a Challenger 2 life extension project (LEP). It is expected to remain in service until 2025.


Armament
The Challenger 2 is equipped with a 120-millimetre (4.7 in) 55-calibre long L30A1 tank gun, the successor to the L11 gun used on Chieftain and Challenger 1. The gun is made from high strength electro-slag remelting (ESR) steel with a chromium alloy lining and, like earlier British 120 mm guns, it is insulated by a thermal sleeve. It is fitted with a muzzle reference system and fume extractor, and is controlled by an all-electric control and stabilisation system. The turret has a rotation time of 9 seconds through 360 degrees.

Uniquely among NATO main battle tank armament, the L30A1 is rifled and along with its predecessor, Royal Ordnance L11A5, the only Third Generation Main Battle Tank Guns to use a rifled barrel. This is because the British Army continues to place a premium on the use of high explosive squash head (HESH) rounds in addition to Armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot rounds. HESH rounds have a longer range (up to 8 kilometres or 5 miles further) than APFSDS, and are more effective against buildings and thin-skinned vehicles.

Forty-nine main armament rounds are carried in the turret and hull; these are a mix of L27A1 APFSDS (also referred to as CHARM 3), L31 HESH and L34 white phosphorus smoke rounds, depending on the situation. As with earlier versions of the 120 mm gun, the propellant charges are loaded separately from the shell or KE projectile. A combustible rigid charge is used for the APFSDS rounds, and a combustible hemispherical bag charge for the HESH and Smoke rounds. An electrically fired vent tube is used to initiate firing of the main armament rounds. (The main armament ammunition is thus described to be "three part ammunition", consisting of the projectile, charge and vent tube.) The separation of ammunition pieces also aids in ensuring lower chances of ammo detonation.

The Challenger 2 is also armed with a L94A1 chain gun EX-34 7.62 mm chain gun coaxially to the left of the main gun, and a 7.62 mm L37A2 (GPMG) machine gun mounted on a pintle on the loader's hatch ring. 4,200 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition are carried. The Challenger can also mount a remote weapons system bearing a 7.62 mm L37A2 (GPMG) machine gun, a 12.7mm heavy machine gun or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.


Firing Control & Sights
The digital fire control computer from Computing Devices Co of Canada contains two 32-bit processors with a MIL STD1553B databus, and has capacity for additional systems, such as a Battlefield Information Control System.

The commander has a panoramic SAGEM VS 580-10 gyrostabilised sight with laser rangefinder. Elevation range is +35° to −35°. The commander's station is equipped with eight periscopes for 360° vision.

The Thermal Observation and Gunnery Sight II (TOGS II), from Thales, provides night vision. The thermal image is displayed on both the gunner's and commander's sights and monitors. The gunner has a stabilised primary sight using a laser rangefinder with a range of 200 m (660 ft) to 10 km (6.2 mi). The driver's position is equipped with a Thales Optronics image-intensifying Passive Driving Periscope (PDP) for night driving and a rear view thermal camera.


Armour
The Challenger 2 is one of the most heavily armoured and best protected tanks in the world. The turret and hull are protected by second generation of Chobham armour (also known as Dorchester), the details of which are classified but which is said to be more than twice as strong as steel. Crew safety was paramount in the design, using a solid state electric drive for its turret and gun movement, thus removing the traditional risk of hydraulic rupture into the crew compartment. Explosive reactive armour kits are also fitted as necessary along with additional bar armour. The nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system is located in the turret bustle. The tank's shape is also designed with stealth technology to reduce radar signature.

On each side of the turret are five L8 smoke grenade dischargers. The Challenger 2 can also create smoke by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust manifolds.


Drive System
The tank's drive system comprises:

* Engine: Perkins 26.6 litre CV12 diesel engine delivering 1200bhp (895kW) at 2300rpm. Torque 4126 Nm at 1700rpm.
* Gearbox: David Brown TN54 epicyclical transmission (6 fwd, 2 rev.) rated at up to 1500bhp.
* Suspension: second-generation hydrogas.
* Track: William Cook Defence hydraulically adjustable double-pin.
* Maximum speed: 37 mph (60 km/h) on road); 25 mph (40 km/h) cross country
* Range: 280 mi or 450 km on road); 156 mi (250 km) cross country, on internal fuel

As of 2013, the British Army has, at various events featuring the Challenger 2, begun to state the range of 550 km. They have also publicly stated a maximum road speed of 59 km/h while equipped with 15 tons of additional modules.


Crew and accommodation
The British Army maintained its requirement for a four-man crew (including a loader) after risk analysis of the incorporation of an automatic loader suggested that auto-loaders reduced battlefield survivability. Mechanical failure and the time required for repair were prime concerns.

Similar to every British tank since the Centurion, and most other British AFVs, Challenger 2 contains a boiling vessel (BV) for water, which can be used to brew tea, produce other hot beverages and heat boil-in-the-bag meals contained in field ration packs. This BV requirement is general for armoured vehicles of the British Armed Forces, and is unique to the armed forces of the UK and India.


Operational History
The Challenger 2 had been used in peacekeeping missions and exercises before, but its first combat use came in March 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. 7th Armoured Brigade, part of 1st Armoured Division, was in action with 120 Challenger 2s around Basra. The type saw extensive use during the siege of Basra, providing fire support to the British forces and knocking out multiple enemy tanks, mainly T-54/55s. The problems that had been identified during the large Saif Sareea II exercise, held 18 months earlier, had been solved by the issuing of Urgent Operational Requirements for equipment such as sand filters and so during the invasion of Iraq the tank's Operational availability was improved.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Challenger 2 tanks suffered no tank losses to enemy fire, although one was penetrated by an IED. This was, at the time, unprotected by Dorchester armour. The driver was injured. In one encounter within an urban area, a Challenger 2 came under attack from irregular forces with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The driver's sight was damaged and, while attempting to back away under the commander's directions, the other sights were damaged and the tank threw its tracks entering a ditch. It was hit directly by 14 rocket propelled grenades from close range and a MILAN anti-tank missile. The crew survived, remaining safe within the tank until it was recovered for repairs, the worst damage being to the sighting system. It was back in operation six hours later, after repairs had been done. One Challenger 2 operating near Basra survived being hit by 70 RPGs in another incident.

In August 2006 south east of al-Amarah, southern Iraq, an RPG-29 capable of firing a tandem-charge penetrated the frontal lower underbelly armour of a Challenger 2 commanded by Captain Thomas Williams of The Queens's Royal Hussars. The tank, which had already been hit by 10-15 RPGs, small arms and sniper fire, was attempting to draw fire away from another callsign that had become stricken. Its driver, Trooper Sean Chance, lost part of his foot in the blast; two more of the crew were slightly injured. Chance was able to reverse the vehicle 1.5 mi (2.4 km) to the regimental aid post despite his injuries. The incident was not made public until May 2007; in response to accusations that crews had been told the tank was impervious to the insurgents weapons, the MoD said "We have never claimed that the Challenger 2 is impenetrable." Since then, the explosive reactive armour has been replaced with a Dorchester block and the steel underbelly lined with armour as part of the 'Streetfighter' upgrade as a direct response to this incident.

Two Challenger 2s have been damaged in combat, but only one has been destroyed:

(1) 25 March 2003: A friendly fire ("blue-on-blue") incident in Basra in which one Challenger 2 of the Black Watch Battlegroup (2nd Royal Tank Regiment) mistakenly engaged another Challenger 2 of the Queen's Royal Lancers after detecting what was believed to be an enemy flanking manoeuvre on thermal equipment. The attacking tank's second HESH round hit the open commander's hatch lid of the QRL tank sending hot fragments into the turret, killing two crew members. The strike caused a fire that eventually led to an explosion of the stowed ammunition, destroying the tank. It remains the only Challenger 2 to be destroyed on operations.

(2) 6 April 2007: in Basra, Iraq, a shaped charge from an IED penetrated the underside of a tank resulting in the driver losing three of his toes and causing minor injuries to another soldier.

To help prevent incidents of this nature happening again, Challenger 2s have been upgraded with a new passive armour package, including the use of add-on armour manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel. When deployed on operations the Challenger 2 is now normally upgraded to TES (Theatre Entry Standard), which includes a number of modifications including armour and weapon system upgrades.


Upgrades and Challenger variants

CLIP
Image
^ CLIP, fitted with the smoothbore Rheinmetall 120 mm gun

The Challenger Lethality Improvement Programme (CLIP) was a programme to replace the current L30A1 rifled gun with the smoothbore Rheinmetall 120 mm gun currently used in the Leopard 2A6. The use of a smoothbore weapon would have allowed Challenger 2 to use NATO standard ammunition developed in Germany and the US. This includes tungsten-based kinetic energy penetrators, which do not have the same political and environmental objections as depleted uranium rounds. The production lines for rifled 120 mm ammunition in the UK have been closed for some years, so existing stocks of ammunition for the L30A1 are finite. In 2009, a new HESH round manufactured in Belgium has been trialled. This means that the Challenger 2 now has available a new Tungsten FIN[citation needed] and HESH rounds, if and when required, which secures a line of ammunition for its 55 calibre rifled main gun, the L30, when required in the future.

A single Challenger 2 was fitted with the L55 and underwent trials in January 2006. The smoothbore gun is the same length as the L30A1, and is fitted with the rifled gun's cradle, thermal sleeve, bore evacuator and muzzle reference system. Early trials apparently revealed that the German tungsten DM53 round was more effective than the depleted-uranium CHARM 3. The ammunition storage and handling arrangements will need to be changed to cater for the single-piece smoothbore rounds, instead of the separate-loading rifled rounds. In 2006, a figure of £386 million was estimated to fit all Challengers in the British Army with the Rheinmetall 120 mm gun.

CSP
Other improvements have also been considered, including a regenerative NBC protection system. In addition, several Challenger 2s had the pintle-mounted GPMG on the loader's crew hatch replaced with a remote controlled turret, allowing the loader to operate the weaponry without having to expose himself to enemy fire.

In May 2007, the Ministry of Defence's Future Systems Group invited BAES to tender for the Challenger 2 Capability Sustainment Program (C2 CSP), which combined all upgrades into one programme. However, by mid-2008, the programme was in danger of slipping, or even being cancelled, as a result of defence budget shortfalls.

CLEP
n July 2013, it was confirmed that the Challenger II Life Extension Programme was in the concept stage and would be in initial gate by 2014, this later slipped to early 2015. In June 2014, it was stated that not all of the 227 Challenger 2s may be modified to CLEP standard and the smoothbore cannon had been dropped.

A Royal Tank Regiment Newsletter dated December 2015 stated that the LEP includes managing to curb obsolescence in several turret systems – including TI sights, the Fire Control Computer (FCC) and electronic architecture in turret. Improved technology will be integrated as a new system on the platform, which will deliver more accurate engagements at range and improved FCC power, meaning that CR2 will remain a battle winning asset out to the extended out of service date. Parallel work strands will provide extensions to virtual training systems, deliver improved Live Fire Monitoring Equipment (LFME) and work is ongoing to develop improved 120mm ammunition. A recent Ministry of Defence document also identified a "soft kill defensive aid system", the German MUSS, for the Challenger 2.

In January 2016 it was reported by IHS Jane's that the UK's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation had received a number of replies to its pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) for the projected Challenger 2 MBT life extension programme (LEP) which aims to extend the life of the Challenger 2 out to 2035. In addition to BAE Systems Combat Vehicles (UK), which is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), contenders were stated to include Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany, General Dynamics Land Systems UK, Lockheed Martin UK, CMI Defence of Belgium, and RUAG Defence of Switzerland.

Around this time a separate two-year contract was awarded to BAE Systems and Krauss Maffei Wegmann to develop an update to the bridging variant in part to address the increase in weight of the Challenger II from 62.5t to 75t arising from upgrades made during the Iraq campaign.

Final bids for the upgrade programme were submitted on 11 August. The LEP will see the replacement of most of the tanks electronics, including its sighting systems but does not envisage a major upgrade of the vehicle's drive systems or replacement of the 120 mm L30A1 rifled gun. Full bidder confirmation was not available at this time.

On 2 November 2016 it was reported that teams led by Rheinmetall Landsystem and BAE Systems had been chosen as preferred bidders for the assessment phase of the LEP by the UK MoD. The two contracts are on track to be signed by the end of this year triggering a 24-month assessment program ahead of selection of a winning proposal in 2019. The MoD are investing £53 million in the assessment phase. Each contractors receive £23 million, with an additional £7 million being set aside to cover additional, unspecified work. The Rheinmetall consortium includes BMT, Pearson Engineering, Supacat, and Thales UK and includes an option to retrofit Rheinmetall's 120 mm L55 smooth bore gun should additional funds be made available. The BAE team includes General Dynamics UK, Qinetiq, Leonardo, Moog and Safran. Also bidding for the LEP were teams headed by CMI Defence (Belgium), Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (Germany), Lockheed Martin UK, and RUAG Defence (Switzerland). It is expected the LEP modernization program could be worth around £650 million ($802 million) to the eventual winner. On 22 December 2016, an assessment phase award was awarded to BAE Systems and Rheinmetall Land Systeme GmbH to progress the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project.


Titan
Image
^ Titan
The Titan armoured bridge layer is based on aspects of the Challenger 2 running gear and will replace the Chieftain Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (ChAVLB). The Titan came into service in 2006 with the Royal Engineers, with 33 in service. Titan can carry a single 26-metre-long bridge or two 12-metre-long bridges. It can also be fitted with a bulldozer blade.

Trojan ARVE
Image
^ Trojan ARVE
The Trojan Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers is a combat engineering vehicle designed as a replacement for the Chieftain AVRE (ChAVRE). It uses the Challenger 2 chassis, and carries an articulated excavator arm, a dozer blade, and attachment rails for fascines. Entering service in 2007, 33 were produced.

Challenger 2E
The Challenger 2E is an export version of the tank. It has a new integrated weapon control and battlefield management system, which includes a gyrostabilised panoramic SAGEM MVS 580-day/thermal sight for the commander and SAGEM SAVAN 15 gyrostabilised day/thermal sight for the gunner, both with eyesafe laser rangefinder. This allows hunter/killer operations with a common engagement sequence. An optional servo-controlled overhead weapons platform can be slaved to the commander's sight to allow operation independent from the turret.

The power pack has been replaced by a new 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) EuroPowerPack with a transversely mounted MTU MT883 diesel engine coupled to Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission. The increase in both vehicle performance and durability is significant. The smaller volume but more powerful Europowerpack power pack additionally incorporates as standard a cooling system and air-intake filtration system proved in desert use. The free space in the hull is available for ammunition stowage or for fuel, increasing the vehicle's range to 550 km (340 mi). This powerpack was previously installed on the French Leclerc tanks delivered to the UAE as well as the recovery tank version of the Leclerc in service with the French Army. Further developed versions of the Europowerpack have more recently been installed in the latest serial produced Korean K2 Black Panther tank as well as the new Turkish ALTAY tank.

BAES announced in 2005 that development and export marketing of 2E would stop. This has been linked by the media to the failure of the 2E to be selected for the Hellenic Army in 2002, a competition won by the Leopard 2.


CRARRV
Image
^ CRARRV
The Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV) is an armoured recovery vehicle based on the Challenger 1 hull and designed to repair and recover damaged tanks on the battlefield. It has five seats but usually carries a crew of three soldiers from the Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers (REME), of the recovery mechanic and vehicle mechanic/technician trades. There is room in the cabin for two further passengers (e.g. crew members of the casualty vehicle) on a temporary basis.

The size and performance are similar to the MBT, but instead of armament it is fitted with:

* A main winch with 50 tonnes-force pull in a 1:1 configuration or 98 tonnes-force pull using an included pulley in a 2:1 configuration and anchor point on the vehicle, plus a small auxiliary winch to aid in deploying the main winch rope.

* Atlas crane capable of lifting 6,500 kg (14,300 lb) at a distance of 4.9 m (16 ft) (this is sufficient to lift a Challenger 2 power pack).

* In order to improve the flexibility and supplement the transportation power packs around the battlefield, the British Army procured a quantity of dedicated CRARRV High Mobility Trailers (CRARRV HMT). Each CRARRV HMT enables a CRARRV to transport a single (Challenger, Titan or Trojan) power pack or two Warrior power packs by altering the configuration of dedicated fixtures and attachment of fittings.

* Dozer blade to act as an earth anchor/stabiliser, or in obstacle clearance and fire position preparation.

* Large set of recovery and heavy repair tools including a man portable ultrathermic cutting system with an under water cutting capability and a man portable welding solution.

The design prototype is on display at The REME Museum of Technology in Arborfield, Berkshire.


Challenger 2 operators:
United Kingdom: British Army 408 delivered (227 still in service, including 59 used for training or held in reserve)
Oman: Royal Army of Oman 38 sent

seaspear
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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank

Postby seaspear » 02 May 2015, 23:11

There has been consideration that future tanks will incorporate for crew members a type of vision equipment similar to the f35 pilots with the ability to "see" outside the tank rather than through vision blocks providing a greater awareness of surroundings and potential threats

Tony Williams
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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby Tony Williams » 06 May 2015, 09:41

The Army considered replacing the current rifled gun with a Rheinmetall smoothbore, as used by just about every other major NATO nation, in order to save money in the long run on ammunition development and production. They got as far as making a prototype (can't recall offhand if it was a functioning one or a mock-up). However, the conversion turned out to be complicated and expensive, mainly because the Rheinmetall gun uses one-piece ammunition, the rifled one two-piece, so the ammo stowage arrangements are different.

RetroSicotte
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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 06 May 2015, 17:55

Tony Williams wrote:The Army considered replacing the current rifled gun with a Rheinmetall smoothbore, as used by just about every other major NATO nation, in order to save money in the long run on ammunition development and production. They got as far as making a prototype (can't recall offhand if it was a functioning one or a mock-up). However, the conversion turned out to be complicated and expensive, mainly because the Rheinmetall gun uses one-piece ammunition, the rifled one two-piece, so the ammo stowage arrangements are different.


It was certainly an operational prototype, just a gun replacement after all. Pic below.

Image

Unfortunately, due to the internal design, it can only carry 6 rounds of single piece, which begs the question of just what incompetant ever signed off on giving it that two piece design in the first place in 1991 after the world had already moved on to superior things as far ago as the mid seventies!

It beggars belief, it really does. The only true solution is to get a fully new tank, but it's far FAR too late for that now. We should have been designing a new tank as far back as the early 2000's if we were to have one "in time" to be relevant.

It's 2015 and we haven't put even the first thought toward a new vehicle, and the entire tank industry is dead because of that.

GG, British government.

GG.

Tony Williams
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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby Tony Williams » 07 May 2015, 09:27

RetroSicotte wrote:Unfortunately, due to the internal design, it can only carry 6 rounds of single piece, which begs the question of just what incompetant ever signed off on giving it that two piece design in the first place in 1991 after the world had already moved on to superior things as far ago as the mid seventies!

It beggars belief, it really does.


It's a classic example of the "save a little money now, spend a lot later" philosophy that the MoD seems to be prone to. The Nimrod saga is an even better example. How on earth did we get to the stage of spending billions on constantly upgrading a handful of ancient hand-built planes which were barely safe to fly? However, mustn't get off-topic, sorry...

The only true solution is to get a fully new tank, but it's far FAR too late for that now. We should have been designing a new tank as far back as the early 2000's if we were to have one "in time" to be relevant.

It's 2015 and we haven't put even the first thought toward a new vehicle, and the entire tank industry is dead because of that.

GG, British government.

GG.


The most obvious practical solution would be to buy the latest upgraded version of the Leopard. However, it seems that we are going to have to manage with whatever upgrades the Challenger can be given for a few generations...

mr.fred
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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 08 May 2015, 19:09

RetroSicotte wrote:
It's 2015 and we haven't put even the first thought toward a new vehicle, and the entire tank industry is dead because of that.

Is it?
I'm not so convinced. Maybe a bit more costly to get the next iteration

RetroSicotte
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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 08 May 2015, 22:02

Factory is closed. Bout as dead as it gets.

We'd have to build back up to it steadily. We have light vehicles like Foxhound and Jackal on our construction, but nothing bigger anymore. Terrier was the last AFV.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby SKB » 08 May 2015, 22:04

2035. Challenger 3, or whole new tank?

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby Pymes75 » 08 May 2015, 23:25

Scout SV will be built by General Dynamics UK in Oakdale, South Wales so the UK's AFV capability hasn't completely disappeared - even if it's owned by the Yanks (but then, a lot of the US arms industry is now owned by BAe Systems!).

Challenger 2 will remain the MBT of the British Army out to 2030+. It will receive some updates during that time but there simply isn't a need to spend money the Army doesn't have designing a new tank. There are far more important army equipment programmes to come over the next two decades...

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 09 May 2015, 00:54

Pymes75 wrote:Scout SV will be built by General Dynamics UK in Oakdale, South Wales so the UK's AFV capability hasn't completely disappeared - even if it's owned by the Yanks (but then, a lot of the US arms industry is now owned by BAe Systems!).


Because it's a vehicle the Spanish and Austrians made, not us.

Challenger 2 will remain the MBT of the British Army out to 2030+. It will receive some updates during that time but there simply isn't a need to spend money the Army doesn't have designing a new tank.


There simply is. When we have a tank with an obselete gun that can't kill other tanks any newer than an older T-80, is the slowest tank in the entire world, has woefully outdated protective systems, inability to fire through IR past a shockingly short distance due to the TOGS placement on the gun barrel, relies on ablative add ons to be competitive on a frontal arc, has none of the active protection, modern FLIR or command C4I systems of other tanks and is restricted to only two forms of rounds...yeah, it really does need a replacement. Desperately.

Right now, its only use is bunker hitting and bullying obselete scrap metal. CLEP is nothing more than the Government wanting to be able to say they invested by "upgrading" without really upgrading anything worthwhile. It's a sad and harsh truth, but it's just facts. Challenger was bleeding edge in the late 90's, but this is 2015 and it has been left sorely behind.

The only options really are:

Reinvest money to get a new one, taking 20+ years and enormous amounts of funding with no guarenteed result.

Buy a foreign tank, either Leopard 2 for cheaper end or something like a K2 is we wanted to splash. (Hah, no)

Work with the French and Germans on their upcoming tank, offering some of our protected secrets to get into the program as a member.

Work with the Italians on the Ariete C2 to improve the design with our own elements.

Keeping Challenger 2 until 2035 as is, is just not an option. It's already behind the curve by a massive amount. By 2035 it'd be like trying to drive an M3 Lee into the Fulda Gap circa 1980. When Turkey has now started designing better tanks than a leading NATO nation, something has gone terribly wrong somewhere down the line.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby Cooper » 09 May 2015, 10:40

RetroSicotte wrote:
Pymes75 wrote: When Turkey has now started designing better tanks than a leading NATO nation, something has gone terribly wrong somewhere down the line.


Sorry but this is such a non argument, there will always be times when one country or another has a superior piece of equipment to another's given the long time frames and cyclical nature of development, does Turkey have better warships, aircraft, attack helicopters, submarines, intelligence gathering, special forces capabilities or global reach than the UK, not to mention the high tech industrial base to even build such pieces of equipment?..no of course it doesn't.

..and besides, who says it will be a better tank anyway.

The chances of Challenger ever being deployed against a superior rival is minimal, and that includes Putin's forces, there are many other, more pressing gaps in capability that need to filled before a new tank gets put at the top of the list.

Given unlimited resources or 3% of GDP defence spending, I'm sure the Army would love a new tank, but its not the world we live in.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby shark bait » 09 May 2015, 11:04

Cooper wrote:The chances of Challenger ever being deployed against a superior rival is minimal, and that includes Putin's forces, there are many other, more pressing gaps in capability that need to filled before a new tank gets put at the top of the list.


I would agree with all your comments.
I would also add that the chance of us or any nato force engaging in a major land campaign without complete air domination is nill. Our air domination then brings the best antitank weapon available. If this speculation is correct then challenger is rightfully so, a long way down the shopping list
@LandSharkUK

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 09 May 2015, 12:05

RetroSicotte wrote:Factory is closed. Bout as dead as it gets.

We'd have to build back up to it steadily. We have light vehicles like Foxhound and Jackal on our construction, but nothing bigger anymore. Terrier was the last AFV.

Depending on which factory you mean, you could well be very wrong. The Scotswood factory in Newcastle was only shut from BAESystems point of view. In reality it was sold to another engineering company, the umbrella Reece group (http://www.reece-group.com)
Most of the companies still making component parts are still up and running.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 09 May 2015, 12:09

Quite agree with Ch2 being OK for a while.

The 3 remaining heavy bdes are mechanised, not tank, in their nature and quite rightly focus on combined arms operations.

Btw, the all mighty Leo is lacking behind in penetrator development, and even when a new one will arrive (2017?), only the Mk 7s can take it without difficulty (20 of those in active service!).
- howabout an Abrams, with a diesel dropped into it?
- us being such close allies, we might even get the real version, not the export models with steel plates

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 09 May 2015, 12:10

RetroSicotte wrote:There simply is. When we have a tank with an obselete gun that can't kill other tanks any newer than an older T-80, is the slowest tank in the entire world, has woefully outdated protective systems, inability to fire through IR past a shockingly short distance due to the TOGS placement on the gun barrel, relies on ablative add ons to be competitive on a frontal arc, has none of the active protection, modern FLIR or command C4I systems of other tanks and is restricted to only two forms of rounds...yeah, it really does need a replacement. Desperately.

Right now, its only use is bunker hitting and bullying obselete scrap metal. CLEP is nothing more than the Government wanting to be able to say they invested by "upgrading" without really upgrading anything worthwhile. It's a sad and harsh truth, but it's just facts. Challenger was bleeding edge in the late 90's, but this is 2015 and it has been left sorely behind.

The only options really are:

Reinvest money to get a new one, taking 20+ years and enormous amounts of funding with no guarenteed result.

Buy a foreign tank, either Leopard 2 for cheaper end or something like a K2 is we wanted to splash. (Hah, no)

Work with the French and Germans on their upcoming tank, offering some of our protected secrets to get into the program as a member.

Work with the Italians on the Ariete C2 to improve the design with our own elements.

Keeping Challenger 2 until 2035 as is, is just not an option. It's already behind the curve by a massive amount. By 2035 it'd be like trying to drive an M3 Lee into the Fulda Gap circa 1980. When Turkey has now started designing better tanks than a leading NATO nation, something has gone terribly wrong somewhere down the line.

Slowest tank in the world? In what way do you think that matters? How are you even measuring that?
On what basis are you making your protection assessment?

True it needs updating, but unless you are playing top trumps or taking your data from Steel Beasts the situation is not so bleak as the picture you seem to want to paint.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 09 May 2015, 12:34

Slowest tank in the world? In what way do you think that matters? How are you even measuring that?
On what basis are you making your protection assessment?

True it needs updating, but unless you are playing top trumps or taking your data from Steel Beasts the situation is not so bleak as the picture you seem to want to paint.


It's the slowest because it has the smallest engine to weight ratio of any existing modern tank. It has the lowest power-to-weight ratio (especially given the TES ones weigh 75 tonnes!) of them all, its suspension, while hydropneumatic, has one of the smallest vertical lift ratios meaning rough ground affects it far more. (For comparison, the Abram and Leopard have a 50% higher vertical lift on the suspension, while the Merkava has double!) It also still uses twin-stick control, instead of a steering wheel, which reduces its in theatre mobility and reactivity and of course, due to all above, has a more sluggish speed gain and maximum. The driver also has the worst viewpoint of any modern tank with only a single forward facing periscope, rather than the tri-scopes that others enjoy.

To give an impression, Challenger 2 has a hp-weight ratio of something like 18.5 once given its nessesary add on modules. That is crippling. Absolutely crippling. The 1,200hp engine is such a drawback right now. Prime example of unnessesary cuts to not have given it a 1,500hp engine right away. For comparison, most modern tanks are around 24hp/t or even as high as 27hp/t.

The protection meanwhile comes from two primary drawbacks. One is that it has no contained ammunition compartment, as we saw in the Blue-on-Blue attack, one spark inside the crew compartment took the turret clean off. Modern tanks have entirely separate ammo compartments with blow out panels to protect the crew in the case of aa cookoff. Challenger does not. The second issue is the frontal lower plate being very very weak with no real composite protection without a massive (and heavy) block of Dorchester added to it, unlike other modern tanks that have huge thick plates of composite already on it. Of course that increases the weight and throws the tank of balance without even more weight being added further back and...yeah, you can see why that's a complete disaster.

While in firepower, it is anemic. The CHARM3 was obselete two generations of ammunition ago, let alone now. Put this way, the American M829A2 outclassed the CHARM3 by a huge amount. Even the A1 does. We're now approaching the A4. Even the MoD's own trials found that the DM53 outclassed CHARM3, and they're on the DM63 now. CHARM3 is half the size of those rounds and the cannon is low velocity by comparison to other guns. There is no which way in physics that can paint that as any different. You can't somehow use magic to make what is just a rod of metal get any better at its job. So how do we know CHARM3 is behind the curve? M829A2 was designed to beat Kontakt-5 ERA, because M829A1 could not. A1 is superior to CHARM3, thus CHARM3 cannot penetrate Kontakt-5, let alone whatever armour is below it. Then add on that Kontkt-5 is a bit of 80's-90's tech and it gets even worse. Then you add on that K5 is already being replace by Relikt ERA which the US needs the A4 to be able to penetrate, hence its development. Thats a lot of developments ahead of us, placing the Challenger firmly into a role of preying on old Cold War relics, rather than a modern battlefield.

End result is we have a tank that others can run rings around, that can't really hurt them in return with its tiny penetrator owing to two-piece ammunition and stands every chance of going the way of the T-72 should anything get through its armour. The only leading edge part of the Challenger is its frontal turret armour, which is horrendously thick. But thats the only part of the tank worth keeping now. Everything else is terribly outdated and I'm afraid I do not accept the notion of "Nah we're not gonna get into a war with anyone who has decent armour, so why spend money?"

In that case, why do we need Anti-Ship Missiles, Submarine Torpedoes, Air-to-Air missiles or top-attack ATGMs? If the reasoning is "we're not going to face anyone worthwhile" why don't I hear everyone arguing for not needing to replace them? It's about deterrance through capability and right now the Challenger doesn't deter anyone.

The harsh reality is we've fallen waaaaay behind the curve to the point we're already bordering on obsalecence in heavy armour. It is nothing other than national pride that stops many from accepting it, because the facts just do not add up. This isn't Top Trumps, this is concern for the capability and more importantly the poor sods driving the things who'd have to use an outdated machine. Do we really want a repeat of the early-war period of WW2 again where tankers were simply sent to ineffectually die?

If the judgement is "We'll always have an ally/we'll have air superiority anyway/we won't need tanks" then just retire the damn things and stop pretending. Place that money to the other places you mention. Right now they exist purely on "so we can say we have some" merits.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 09 May 2015, 12:54

Quick point - more later:
Check your use of Obsolete and Obsolescent.

I agree with this:
"we're already bordering on obsalecence [sic] in heavy armour."

Not that the UK heavy armour is obsolete.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 09 May 2015, 13:03

Agreed, and while the difference between the two concepts normally is about economics, we can bring in the doctrine as well (economy of force; the Army chose to use c. 5bn on AHs having weighed the relative merits of the two platforms).
...Ahh, using the back arrow seems to be dangerous on this platform (sorry for the double!)

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 09 May 2015, 13:52

No prob, just wiped it for you.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 09 May 2015, 21:19

More...
The blue on blue catastrophic destruction was, if memory serves, a HESH projectile detonating on the commander's hatch that then set off a HESH projectile improperly stored in the fighting compartment. Hardly a spark and really just the icing on the cake - anyone in the turret would have been killed by the first explosion. If a Leopard or Abrams have rounds improperly stowed, then they are every bit as vulnerable, if not more so because the fixed round also includes propellant, which is much easier to set off.

The toe armour is probably weak relative to the rest of the frontal arc protection evidenced, as you say, by the appliqué upgrades. How weak in comparison to other tanks? Difficult to say. If it is relatively weak that implies that the glacis and turret front are relatively strong, which would be advantageous in situations where you can go hull-down.

It is underpowered in raw numbers, but that doesn't always translate into low mobility, likewise the range of suspension movement. Raw speed also does not necessarily translate into greater mobility. Granted it may well be nice to update the engine, if the rest of the transmission and running gear can handle it, but it doesn't immediately invalidate the vehicle.

Firepower is a problem, but again it's obsolescent, not obsolete. For the vast majority of a tanks role it will do until we get a replacement*, it isn't cause (IMHO) to go running off to chuck the lot in the bin. Especially if you're going to replace it with an older (though better maintained) platform that isn't going to last more than a couple of decades itself.

*provided that we're sensible (stop laughing at the back there!) and start working on a replacement in good time, taking account of the lessons learnt, noting the weaknesses you cite, and making it ready in time to replace the current vehicle.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 09 May 2015, 22:15

One shell going off doesn't lift a tank's full turret. That was a catastrophic explosion. Either way, mis-stored or not, the rounds are stored openly either behind them or in a compartment with no blow out panels beneath their feet. Either way, that is bad news compared to say, the completely stored box on the back of an Abrams' bustle or a Leclerc's sealed autoloader. Both give the crew some chance to survive.

The toe armour most definitely is weak. The hull is just a few mm of steel behind there after all, given it's just a CR1 hull and we know for sure the thickness of that. Other tanks like the Abrams, Leopard and Merk have well documented huge blocks of composite there. Challenger lacks any without those (heavy) modules.

And raw numbers are all it takes. I'm not sure what kind of "mobility" you think will magically spring into the tank, if I may be blunt. It's got a small engine, short suspension and it's the heaviest NATO tank. It's power to weight ratio ensures it stays sluggish by comparison and it even has a shorter range than other modern tanks to boot. 100km less than a Leopard 2 or a Leclerc. It is, factually, the worst modern tank in the world for mobility.

I never said we should throw them out, I was using it as an example that the arguement of "We don't need X because Y will never happen" is somewhat double standard when we're talking about a vehicle that has seen 6 years of active combat in the last decade and a half (and was requested many times for Afghanistan) as opposed to many systems we'd never dream of getting rid of despite not having used them in 30 years.

If we ever need them to be up to modern standards because of a sharp threat, heaven forbid, then that realisation will not give us 20 years warning to make a new one. It won't even give us 5 years warning to acquire someone else's and adapt them for our needs.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby Ron5 » 10 May 2015, 05:53

In peace they shout for speed. In war, they shout for protection. If the chally's are NBG, then why all the calls from Afghanistan?

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 10 May 2015, 10:37

RetroSicotte wrote:One shell going off doesn't lift a tank's full turret. That was a catastrophic explosion. Either way, mis-stored or not, the rounds are stored openly either behind them or in a compartment with no blow out panels beneath their feet. Either way, that is bad news compared to say, the completely stored box on the back of an Abrams' bustle or a Leclerc's sealed autoloader. Both give the crew some chance to survive.

Re-reading the report, it seems that the HESH shell set off the charges as well. So the crew were killed three times instead of only twice.

And raw numbers are all it takes. I'm not sure what kind of "mobility" you think will magically spring into the tank, if I may be blunt. It's got a small engine, short suspension and it's the heaviest NATO tank. It's power to weight ratio ensures it stays sluggish by comparison and it even has a shorter range than other modern tanks to boot. 100km less than a Leopard 2 or a Leclerc. It is, factually, the worst modern tank in the world for mobility.

Only if you have all the raw numbers. Suspension spring rate, if it's linear or non linear, damper rates, gear ratios, torque and engine power, how range is measured and how it pertains to operational usage.

I never said we should throw them out, I was using it as an example that the arguement of "We don't need X because Y will never happen" is somewhat double standard when we're talking about a vehicle that has seen 6 years of active combat in the last decade and a half (and was requested many times for Afghanistan) as opposed to many systems we'd never dream of getting rid of despite not having used them in 30 years.

No? It was one of your options up-thread. What is your preferred option?

If we ever need them to be up to modern standards because of a sharp threat, heaven forbid, then that realisation will not give us 20 years warning to make a new one. It won't even give us 5 years warning to acquire someone else's and adapt them for our needs.

So what should we do? The CR2 needs it's sights and fire control updating due to obsolescence issues - that's CLEP and fairly easy. If we get involved against a high-end opponent (risk:low, severity:high) then the first response would be to switch to another part of the combined arms force for the anti-armour response. The CR2 is still effective at all the other aspects of being a tank even if it isn't quite up there on the tank-vs-tank on a tabletop.
It is a lesson that we should keep on top of obsolescence issues rather than let things degrade. The next design (which should be in the pipeline almost as soon as the last vehicle is in service) should account for lessons learnt and should allow optimisation for different roles without a major re-build.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby RetroSicotte » 10 May 2015, 13:11

Ron5 wrote:In peace they shout for speed. In war, they shout for protection. If the chally's are NBG, then why all the calls from Afghanistan?


The Army wanted them out there because tanks were very useful.

The Government kept refusing because this was during their "don't act like it's a war" stage.

Eventually, the Danish took some Leopard's out and did the job for us.

mr.fred wrote:Only if you have all the raw numbers. Suspension spring rate, if it's linear or non linear, damper rates, gear ratios, torque and engine power, how range is measured and how it pertains to operational usage.


Which you can find if you do a little digging. The results of the Greek trials, for example, contain very pertinent information. You only need look for information on the Challenger 1's hull (which is far more available) given they have the same hull, and you can see that it's really not very impressive at all. The major factors are hp/t, suspension lift, range and reachable speed. In every single on of them the Challenger scored lower than every other NATO tank. There is no way that you can put a 1,200hp engine in a 62-75 ton vehicle and not have its mobility absolutely crippled from the get go.

Re-reading the report, it seems that the HESH shell set off the charges as well. So the crew were killed three times instead of only twice.


I'm not sure what your point is here. You're being very specific to this one instance.

The problem is that no matter what penetrates the tank, it can cause a catastrophic explosion that leaves zero chance of survival if you're not already outside the thing of blisteringly fast in the "cupola climb". If a round hits the Challenger's ammo stowage then that turret is going to lift. If one hits an Abrams, it's going to burn steadily with the crew still protected and given time to get out, while saving the rest of the tank to be recovered. There's no defending the Challenger's ammo layout. Absolutely none. It's 60's level of outdated to not have an armoured and contained blow out compartment.

No? It was one of your options up-thread. What is your preferred option?


I've stated them before, the only real options are to buy foreign ASAP, join with the Italians to co-develop one soonish or join with the French/Germans to develop one for much later and just watch the humiliation roll in that we have to beg them to let us buy what they will be making while losing the last vestiges of a once powerful homebuild and job creating industry.

The reason I included the option to get rid of them entirely is because it is an option on the table. A terrible one, but it is there.

I would not be surprised in the slightest to see CLEP cancelled and Challenger retired in the SDSR. The Netherlands led the way for it and you can bet there are many who are eyeing up the cash savings with the excuse "The Netherlands showed it's doable!" I really would not be surprised in the slightest and yet it's something people haven't really been theorising about at all. Same for AS-90 actually, which is in the same boat of "in dire need" to remain relevant in a world that has outstripped it enormously.

The CR2 needs it's sights and fire control updating due to obsolescence issues - that's CLEP and fairly easy.


It's easy because it's worthless. Doesn't matter if you can see the enemy more if you can't catch him nor kill him. Cameron is taking the "easy option" so that he can say "We've upgraded our tanks, we're such a good NATO member!" without actually putting the money/effort into fixing anything. Challenger hasn't had a major upgrade in the 17 years it's been in service and people are noticing. This is nothing more than a 'check box military' move to save face but brings no genuine capability increase and doesn't fix any of the true problems.

The CR2 is still effective at all the other aspects of being a tank even if it isn't quite up there on the tank-vs-tank on a tabletop.


It really doesn't. It's not mobile enough for modern war, it's a brew-up waiting to happen when it encounters real ATGMs, it can't utilise any rounds other than the world's weakest 120mm APFSDS or HESH, it has lowered range (450km across roads, other NATO tanks are 550km...) for strategic movement and it's enormously heavy, more than any other tank in the world for crossing infrastructure.

It's a restricted tank. I have had conversations with foreign tankers, Leopard 2 drivers, a Leclerc commander, an Abrams commander...and none of them have any respect for the Challenger, despite being otherwise incredibly respectful people. The running theme was "We could run rings around it in a tactical environment and we wouldn't have to worry about its return fire."

The crippling factor was the government in the 80's/90's opting for a Challenger 1 rebuild rather than opting for a proper design that could accomodate modern technology.

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Re: Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (Army)

Postby mr.fred » 10 May 2015, 17:17

RetroSicotte wrote:Which you can find if you do a little digging. The results of the Greek trials, for example, contain very pertinent information. You only need look for information on the Challenger 1's hull (which is far more available) given they have the same hull, and you can see that it's really not very impressive at all. The major factors are hp/t, suspension lift, range and reachable speed. In every single on of them the Challenger scored lower than every other NATO tank. There is no way that you can put a 1,200hp engine in a 62-75 ton vehicle and not have its mobility absolutely crippled from the get go.

I've never been able to find those results, other than anecdotes that the Challenger was not disadvantaged in any meaningful way and was able to cross ground the others could not.


I'm not sure what your point is here. You're being very specific to this one instance.

The problem is that no matter what penetrates the tank, it can cause a catastrophic explosion that leaves zero chance of survival if you're not already outside the thing of blisteringly fast in the "cupola climb". If a round hits the Challenger's ammo stowage then that turret is going to lift. If one hits an Abrams, it's going to burn steadily with the crew still protected and given time to get out, while saving the rest of the tank to be recovered. There's no defending the Challenger's ammo layout. Absolutely none. It's 60's level of outdated to not have an armoured and contained blow out compartment.

It's the only instance of a catastrophic destruction of a CR2 I am aware of. I haven't gone back over the service record of all British tanks since the Centurion which all have similar ammunition stowage layout but was not of the impression that it was much of a problem.
Are there any battlefield assessments of the Iranian Chieftains from the first Gulf War?
Getting back to the specific incident, it shows that it takes one hell of an effort to achieve in the first place, so is it a real problem or only a theoretical one? If the crew are all killed by the threat required to spark a catastrophic explosion, then, callous as it sounds, who cares?

I've stated them before, the only real options are to buy foreign ASAP, join with the Italians to co-develop one soonish or join with the French/Germans to develop one for much later and just watch the humiliation roll in that we have to beg them to let us buy what they will be making while losing the last vestiges of a once powerful homebuild and job creating industry.

The reason I included the option to get rid of them entirely is because it is an option on the table. A terrible one, but it is there.

These are the only real options? Why isn't build in the UK an option? The factories that build all the bits are still there, there are a number of system houses, plus the MoD, who can look at the design and they don't shoot all the engineers when they close a factory.
It does look like the MoD/government have been trying to kill of the industry since about the 1970s.

I would not be surprised in the slightest to see CLEP cancelled and Challenger retired in the SDSR. The Netherlands led the way for it and you can bet there are many who are eyeing up the cash savings with the excuse "The Netherlands showed it's doable!" I really would not be surprised in the slightest and yet it's something people haven't really been theorising about at all. Same for AS-90 actually, which is in the same boat of "in dire need" to remain relevant in a world that has outstripped it enormously.

Cynical, but with a grain of truth in it. FRES with its pop gun would be as much of a threat as anything, although there are still (after all this time) those who claim that the tank is dead and should be replaced with Toyota Hilux and Javelins

It's easy because it's worthless. Doesn't matter if you can see the enemy more if you can't catch him nor kill him. Cameron is taking the "easy option" so that he can say "We've upgraded our tanks, we're such a good NATO member!" without actually putting the money/effort into fixing anything. Challenger hasn't had a major upgrade in the 17 years it's been in service and people are noticing. This is nothing more than a 'check box military' move to save face but brings no genuine capability increase and doesn't fix any of the true problems.

If he runs away, you don't chase him. Unless re-enacting the early phases of the North African campaign in WW2, with enemy ATGW playing the part of German 88s, is high on your list of priorities. Ideally, you can get him to run away into your ATGW ambush. While he's running away you get smash/take what he was supposed to be protected.
It is clearly desirable to have a tier 1 tank. We should be looking at getting one now. There should be contingency plans in place. Should we be throwing our hands up and scrapping everything we have to buy something that will have a relatively short life itself? I wouldn't say so.

Look at proper combined arms tank use. The Russians still use T55s because they understand that no part of an army acts in isolation.


It really doesn't. It's not mobile enough for modern war, it's a brew-up waiting to happen when it encounters real ATGMs, it can't utilise any rounds other than the world's weakest 120mm APFSDS or HESH, it has lowered range (450km across roads, other NATO tanks are 550km...) for strategic movement and it's enormously heavy, more than any other tank in the world for crossing infrastructure.

Base platform weight between Leo 2A6, Abrams M1A2SEP and CR2 are very similar. All have up armour kits on top of that. Ariete and LeClerc are lighter.
Sources for the relative ranges? What I find shows them to be quite similar. Do other NATO armies have logistics support to make the range count? Does it make sense to compare outright road range when normal military movement involves lots of stopping and waiting, which disadvantages other tanks (Thinking Abrams with its gas turbine here)
Maybe there is something going for the basic design and level of mobility if it is possible to stack so much appliqué armour on it.

It's a restricted tank. I have had conversations with foreign tankers, Leopard 2 drivers, a Leclerc commander, an Abrams commander...and none of them have any respect for the Challenger, despite being otherwise incredibly respectful people. The running theme was "We could run rings around it in a tactical environment and we wouldn't have to worry about its return fire."

Did you ask a Challenger commander? Check with operational analysts?

The crippling factor was the government in the 80's/90's opting for a Challenger 1 rebuild rather than opting for a proper design that could accomodate modern technology.[/quote]
Well, like I said, the MoD/government have quite effectively been gunning for the British AFV industry for the last four decades, whether it was intentional or not.


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