RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

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SKB
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RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

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Introduction
The RBSL Challenger 3 is a main battle tank for the British Army, scheduled for an in service date of 2030. 148 existing Challenger 2 tanks will undergo a life extension program (LEP) and upgrade to the Challenger 3 design specification, the revised tank is expected to remain in service until 2040. In June 2019, a joint venture company called RBSL was formed between Rheinmetall and BAE Systems Land. The MoD signed an £800 million (USD$1 billion) contract with RBSL for the Challenger 3 program on 7 May 2021.

History
In 2005, the MOD recognised a need for a Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) to extend the service life of the Challenger 2 into the mid-2030s and upgrade its mobility, lethality and survivability. The CSP was planned to be complete by 2020 and was to combine all the upgrades from CLIP, including the fitting of a 120 mm smoothbore gun. By 2014, the CSP programme had been replaced by the Life Extension Programme (LEP) which shared a similar scope of replacing obsolete components and extending the tank's service life from 2025 to 2035, however the 120 mm smoothbore gun had seemingly been abandoned.

In 2015, the British Army provided an insight into the scope of the LEP, dividing it into four key areas, namely:

Surveillance and Target Acquisition:
Upgrades to the commander's primary sight and gunner's primary sight, as well as the replacement of the thermal observation and gunnery sights (TOGS) with third-generation thermal imaging.

Weapon Control System:
Upgrades to the fire control computer, fire control panel and gun processing unit.

Mobility:
Upgrades including third-generation hydrogas suspension, improved air filtration, CV-12 common rail fuel injection, transmission and cooling.

Electronic Architecture:
Upgrades to the gunner's control handles, video distribution architecture, generic vehicle architecture compliant interfaces, increased on-board processing and improved human machine interface.

The MOD also began assessing active protection systems (APS) on the Challenger 2, including MUSS and Rhinemetall's ROSY Rapid Obscurant System.

In August 2016, the MOD awarded assessment phase contracts to several companies for the Life Extension Programme. These included Team Challenger 2 (a consortium led by BAE Systems and including General Dynamics UK), CMI Defence and Ricardo plc, Rhinemetall and Lockheed Martin UK. In November, the MOD shortlisted two teams led by BAE Systems and Rhinemetall to compete for the LEP which was then estimated to be worth £650 million ($802 million).

In October 2018, BAE Systems unveiled its proposed Challenger 2 LEP technology demonstrator, the Black Night. The new improvements included a Safran PASEO commander’s sight, Leonardo thermal imager for the gunner and Leonardo DNVS 4 night sight. The turret also received modifications to improve the speed of traverse and to provide greater space as well as regenerative braking to generate and store power. Other enhancements included a laser warning system and an active protection system. Months later, in January 2019, Rhinemetall unveiled its proposal which included the development of a completely new turret with fully digital electronic architecture, day and night sights for the commander and gunner, and a Rheinmetall L55 120 mm smoothbore gun. Whilst a more substantial upgrade than Black Night, the turret was developed on Rheinmetall’s initiative and was not funded by the UK MOD, nor was it part of the MOD’s LEP requirements.

RBSL
In June 2019, BAE Systems and Rheinmetall formed a joint venture company, based in the UK, named Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). Despite the merger, the company was still expected to present two separate proposals for the LEP contract, however, at DSEI 2019, RBSL instead opted to only showcase the Rheinmetall proposal.

In October 2020, the MOD argued against buying a new main battle tank from overseas instead of pursuing the Challenger 2 LEP, stating that an upgraded Challenger 2 would be "comparable – and in certain areas superior" to a Leopard 2 or Abrams.

On 18 March 2021, Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, confirmed that the company had won the UK Challenger 2 LEP contract and it was expected to be signed shortly. In the days following, on 22 March 2021, the UK MOD published its long-awaited command paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, which confirmed the British Army's plans to upgrade 148 Challenger 2 tanks and designate them Challenger 3. The UK MOD announced they had signed an £800 million (USD$1 billion) contract with Rheinmetall BAE on 7 May 2021 to upgrade 148 tanks to Challenger 3 standard. The principle feature is the installation of the L55A1 smoothbore cannon, along with a digitized turret, improved sights, upgraded protection, and other improvements. Initial operating capability is expected by 2027 with full operating capability planned for 2030.

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SKB
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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by SKB »


(Forces News) 7th May 2021
The British Army has unveiled its new Challenger 3 Battle Tank, which is designed to be one of the most advanced tanks in the world. The MOD is spending 800 million pounds on a fleet of 148, with the first vehicles expected to come into operation from 2027.
More: https://www.forces.net/news/challenger- ... le-tank-be

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Re: BAE Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

So, as APS is indicated to be 'subject to contract' that should be read as it coming at extra cost? In whatever numbers ordered; 60 would be v close to 'a' 58 tank formation (the other one going without)
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: BAE Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Lord Jim »

Maybe even less dependant on the size of force that is believed to be required for more regular Operations. I am getting the feeling that deploying a whole Heavy BCT, together with the Deep Strike BCT, is going to be the maximum aspiration for the Army rather than a standard size. Add to this the issue that the Ranger Regiments components as well as other "Light" units will be forward deployed on a routine basis if I have read things right, then we could be looking at something more like a Regimental Combat Team being made up from units within the BCT, actually being deployed. The whole BCT only deploying in a major Peer confrontation like an Article 5 NATO alert.

I maybe barking up the totally wrong tree here but the more I read and re-read where the Army want to be in 2030 and what is currently funded, everything keep coming up short, of say a maximum of 28 APS systems in TES kits with a Regiment equipped to have them installed, with one having then for a few years them swapping them with the other as that Regiment becomes the go to unit.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

Sharing the same sights (Thales Orion) as AJAX, what a fantastic piece of common sense!

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by andrew98 »

There's nothing Common about Sense!

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

RunningStrong wrote:the same sights (Thales Orion) as AJAX
We are finally putting some clear blue water between ours and the previous gen Thales sights produced under license in Belorus (guess for whom, in the main) in the thousands - 3k units would be my guess.
- better later than not at all
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by inch »

Could someone answer if publicly known why the MOD thinks the challenger 3 in certain areas could be superior to the Abrams or leopard or is that just spin ? ,I don't know anything about tanks tbh but wouldn't have thought chal3 superior but hopefully yes on par with the latest upgraded Abram's/Leo , thanks again guys

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by mr.fred »

The gun is better than the Abrams and if its possible to use DU ammunition then the combination will be better than the Leopard using tungsten.
The suspension is better than both.
The armour is certainly up there.
Sensors are pretty modern.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Ron5 »

mr.fred wrote:The gun is better than the Abrams and if its possible to use DU ammunition then the combination will be better than the Leopard using tungsten.
The suspension is better than both.
The armour is certainly up there.
Sensors are pretty modern.
Might just come down to the combat system and seeing it gets mentioned quite a bit in the announcement ...

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Lord Jim »

Does anyone know if we, the UK, have kept ion developing armour beyond Dorchester that was fitted to the Challenger 2?

As for whether the Challenger 3 will be better than the M1A2C or Leopard 2A7Z, I think it will come down to how it is incorporated into a network of weapon Systems rather than how the specific vehicle performs. With the new common digital framework the British Army is introducing with the Challenger 3, Boxer and Ajax, and probably with the updated GMLRS, future 155mm SPG and so on we have the opportunity to have a very valid set of combat formation moving into the 2030s. This could be further enhanced with seamless connectivity with both fixed and rotary air units, both manned and unmanned and the Infantry down to section level.

Modern technology by the 2030s will have allowed a massive jump in situational awareness, but we must also ensure that our networks our heavily protected both passively and actively form being compromised. We Should also be able to attack an opponents command and control network in both covert and overt ways to gain intelligence of there movements, unit types and so on.

With such awareness, it will be possible for the Challenger 3 to fire guided 120mm rounds at a target it cannot see but has been identified by either a forward scout vehicle or Infantry. On a bigger scale we should be able to dictate the pace of any future combat, and be able to concentrate our resources where the enemy is most vulnerable and inflict the maximum amount of damage.

Well all of the above is what the Army is aspiring to, and the Challenger 3 will be the key direct fire enabler and will the networking of all arms, it should be possible for a smaller number of Challenger 3s to have the same impact as would previously require a larger number. Whether the Army will receive the constant level of funding to reach these goals is the constant question. The Command Paper has found further cuts when logic would have said there were no more to be had. The Army is now at the bare minimum and over the next ten years will have to limit itself to certain elective mission types and hope nothing major happens. So fingers crossed for ten years and we should be in a good place with a top of the line Main Battle Tank that is part of a fully integrated force structure.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by seaspear »

With a comparison to the latest Abrams perhaps it could be worth a read of what the U.S army is considering for the future and the use of lighter unmanned tanks does feature
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/ ... red-181977
certainly, Russia is also deploying unmanned vehicles although in a different role

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

Lord Jim wrote:Does anyone know if we, the UK, have kept ion developing armour beyond Dorchester that was fitted to the Challenger 2?
The CR3 shall be designed around applique so it can bolt on the latest, threat specific armour.
Lord Jim wrote:As for whether the Challenger 3 will be better than the M1A2C or Leopard 2A7Z, I think it will come down to how it is incorporated into a network of weapon Systems rather than how the specific vehicle performs. With the new common digital framework the British Army is introducing with the Challenger 3, Boxer and Ajax, and probably with the updated GMLRS, future 155mm SPG and so on we have the opportunity to have a very valid set of combat formation moving into the 2030s. This could be further enhanced with seamless connectivity with both fixed and rotary air units, both manned and unmanned and the Infantry down to section level.
Bowman already allowed all that, and BCIP5.6 only improves that further. The next gen C4I will be Morpheus and improve further again.

The capability is then for the platform to integrate with the BISA (P-BISA for AFV, FC BISA for indirect fires), and is more about the speed that data can be transferred from the messaging system to the fire control system (whether through direct interfaces or others).

The caveat on all this integration however is that sharing target location is nearly always based on using a laser range finder combined with a good GPS location. Now, we can get around GPS denial with inertial navigation, but if you're against a force that can detect LRF emissions then you're either using rough grids with smart seeker heads, or you're back to rules of adjustment...

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

RunningStrong wrote:can get around GPS denial with inertial navigation, but if you're against a force that can detect LRF emissions then you're either using rough grids with smart seeker heads
V true and the deep fires BCT cannot deliver as many of those 'seekers' as will be required and hence the three-tier programme to have such available for any occasion will have to solve this (save for the lowest, Close-In layer).

As for the manned-unmanned mix, the Optionally Manned (official US Prgrm name) sounds v much like what Israel is (likely) coming up with the Carmel family. Interestingly, while there is a new emphasis of not barring foreign suppliers, the only truly such (Rheinmetall) was disqualified at the early stages of the prgrm.
- the way in has been reopened by allowing for up to five pre-approved subsystems providers to whoever that will be selected as the Prime
"While this tentative plan is useful, it can be argued that for a potentially $45 billion program, a more detailed plan is necessary for oversight—particularly in light of this initial program misstep by the Army. [While] the Army’s April 9, 2020,revised program guidance to industry does provide some additional context and tentative dates"
- the particularly in light of expression is being polite by nominally only referring to the stop-starts in getting the prgm shaped and started; one could also read it as referring to this prgrm being the third one towards the same goal... the first two having been cancelled at great cost

Hence, we are lucky that by our Chally 3's Fully Operational date (2030) something on these lines will have matured. If not from the US Army, at least from Israel; may be by the OpFor, too).

By buying 148 perfectly good tanks at £ 0.8 bn instead of brand new at £ 1.5++ bn we will be in the position to :idea: spend the difference on some of these 'little helpers' to get A. a more agile force that B. is less manpower intensive while C. alleviating :thumbup: the absurdly low numbers of the actual MBT platforms
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Ron5 »

RunningStrong wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:Does anyone know if we, the UK, have kept ion developing armour beyond Dorchester that was fitted to the Challenger 2?
The CR3 shall be designed around applique so it can bolt on the latest, threat specific armour.
Lord Jim wrote:As for whether the Challenger 3 will be better than the M1A2C or Leopard 2A7Z, I think it will come down to how it is incorporated into a network of weapon Systems rather than how the specific vehicle performs. With the new common digital framework the British Army is introducing with the Challenger 3, Boxer and Ajax, and probably with the updated GMLRS, future 155mm SPG and so on we have the opportunity to have a very valid set of combat formation moving into the 2030s. This could be further enhanced with seamless connectivity with both fixed and rotary air units, both manned and unmanned and the Infantry down to section level.
Bowman already allowed all that, and BCIP5.6 only improves that further. The next gen C4I will be Morpheus and improve further again.

The capability is then for the platform to integrate with the BISA (P-BISA for AFV, FC BISA for indirect fires), and is more about the speed that data can be transferred from the messaging system to the fire control system (whether through direct interfaces or others).

The caveat on all this integration however is that sharing target location is nearly always based on using a laser range finder combined with a good GPS location. Now, we can get around GPS denial with inertial navigation, but if you're against a force that can detect LRF emissions then you're either using rough grids with smart seeker heads, or you're back to rules of adjustment...
Interesting - thanks. No mention of radar tho. Is that because the BA doesn't have any or that it's just not that useful?

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Cooper »

inch wrote:Could someone answer if publicly known why the MOD thinks the challenger 3 in certain areas could be superior to the Abrams or leopard or is that just spin
Depends on how many upgrades the Abrams & Leopard have gone through by 2030.

..9yrs to get a paltry 148 hulls up to standard is a pathetically slow timetable, considering everything that is going into the upgrade, is proven technology.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Ron5 »

Lord Jim wrote:Does anyone know if we, the UK, have kept ion developing armour beyond Dorchester that was fitted to the Challenger 2?
This thread answers that question and more ..



Suggest anyone that cares should read the entire thread, Jon adds details in some of his answers.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Ron5 »

The actual value of the contract is 665 million pounds or 4.5m per tank but that does include R&D and other stuff.

So why is it being reported as 800 million? They added VAT. Mind boggling - the government charging itself tax and then including it in the total to big it up :roll:

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

Ron5 wrote:
RunningStrong wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:Does anyone know if we, the UK, have kept ion developing armour beyond Dorchester that was fitted to the Challenger 2?
The CR3 shall be designed around applique so it can bolt on the latest, threat specific armour.
Lord Jim wrote:As for whether the Challenger 3 will be better than the M1A2C or Leopard 2A7Z, I think it will come down to how it is incorporated into a network of weapon Systems rather than how the specific vehicle performs. With the new common digital framework the British Army is introducing with the Challenger 3, Boxer and Ajax, and probably with the updated GMLRS, future 155mm SPG and so on we have the opportunity to have a very valid set of combat formation moving into the 2030s. This could be further enhanced with seamless connectivity with both fixed and rotary air units, both manned and unmanned and the Infantry down to section level.
Bowman already allowed all that, and BCIP5.6 only improves that further. The next gen C4I will be Morpheus and improve further again.

The capability is then for the platform to integrate with the BISA (P-BISA for AFV, FC BISA for indirect fires), and is more about the speed that data can be transferred from the messaging system to the fire control system (whether through direct interfaces or others).

The caveat on all this integration however is that sharing target location is nearly always based on using a laser range finder combined with a good GPS location. Now, we can get around GPS denial with inertial navigation, but if you're against a force that can detect LRF emissions then you're either using rough grids with smart seeker heads, or you're back to rules of adjustment...
Interesting - thanks. No mention of radar tho. Is that because the BA doesn't have any or that it's just not that useful?
Target Acquisition Radar? The MSTAR kit used by the Artillery is quite dated, but later versions do exist. You'd never send raw radar over a network when you can send target location for a much smaller data load.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

Ron5 wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:Does anyone know if we, the UK, have kept ion developing armour beyond Dorchester that was fitted to the Challenger 2?
This thread answers that question and more ..



Suggest anyone that cares should read the entire thread, Jon adds details in some of his answers.
He falls into the trap of assuming that lethality is all about the gun, and then tries to style it out when he's challenged on it. He's wrong, but don't let that get in the way of self promotion, it's his job after all.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

This 'everyone getting tied in knots' just because there are only so many characters for you, to declare the 'thruth' is just so rideculous
... and leads into these "he / she is no good" etc

Why don't you guys actually try to make your point here, in plain English (Ron is allowed American :) ) and if the twitter stuff backs you up... so that is GOOD then, eh?
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by RunningStrong »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:This 'everyone getting tied in knots' just because there are only so many characters for you, to declare the 'thruth' is just so rideculous
... and leads into these "he / she is no good" etc

Why don't you guys actually try to make your point here, in plain English (Ron is allowed American :) ) and if the twitter stuff backs you up... so that is GOOD then, eh?
Are you suggesting that I have read his tweet in isolation?

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Lord Jim »

Well we know the L55 has a higher muzzle velocity than the L44 but I have seen no data to really compare the latest US Army DU round verses the latest Tungsten round. Also does anyone have a comparison between the US and German programable rounds? As for FCS I would say things are even enough to not be able to split the difference. But with only two Regiments worth of armour and no IFVs, the British Army is going to have to fight smart, really smart against a peer opponent.

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Luke jones »

Im just wondering if there is any possibility that another country would take the spare CH2's and potentially have them brought up to CH3 standard?
How many CH2's still exist?
400 odd were knocked out originally i think, are they still in a yard somewhere or were they scrapped?

I wonder if RBSL would even think of trying???

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Re: RBSL Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (British Army)

Post by Ron5 »

Lord Jim wrote:As for FCS I would say things are even enough to not be able to split the difference
Based on what? The MoD are playing that one close to the chest. As they should.

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