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British Army Challenger 3 Update

The Challenger 3 prototype in the RBSL factory in Telford. [Crown Copyright: Sgt Ben Beale]

British Army soldiers are a step closer to getting their hands on one of Europe’s most lethal tanks – the Challenger 3 – the Defence Secretary has announced.

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Press Release, Whitehall, April 2024: With advanced armour and devastating firepower, the Challenger 3 boasts an impressive range of state-of-the-art technology, making it the most lethal and survivable tank ever operated by the British Army.

The latest of eight Challenger 3 prototypes rolled off the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land factory production line in Telford as the Defence Secretary had an opportunity to meet the engineers and apprentices who have worked on this crucial programme. The first tank is already showing its capabilities on trials. All will be tested under operational conditions to validate their performance and make refinements, before another 140 are built and delivered to the British Army.

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “In a more dangerous world, the need for vehicles such as the Challenger 3 is imperative, as the threats facing the UK evolve. This tank will be at the heart of the British Army’s warfighting capabilities and will be integral to the UK’s deterrence.

“The hard work and dedication on show in Telford and across the country is instrumental in driving forward UK defence innovation and delivering for our forces in the frontline.”

Providing the Army’s Main Battle Tank, the Challenger 3 will remain in service until at least 2040. This third iteration of the Challenger series includes a state-of-the-art turret with a more capable smoothbore gun, which is compatible with NATO ammunition, as well as improved armour and sensors.

The Army’s Director Programmes, Major General Jon Swift OBE said: “Challenger 3 will be at the heart of the Army’s Armoured Brigade Combat Teams, alongside Ajax and Boxer, and is critical to the Army’s warfighting capability and the UK’s contribution to NATO. The delivery of these prototype vehicles, the first of which has already started trials, marks a significant milestone on the Army’s modernisation journey.”

Director General Land for Defence, Equipment and Support, Lieutenant General Simon Hamilton CBE said: “Delivering the capability the Army needs to be more lethal is vital in an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world. The Challenger 3 Programme is a cornerstone of the Army’s Future Soldier modernisation, and I am delighted to see the Army, DE&S and RBSL collaborating together to provide our soldiers with a world-class Main Battle Tank made here in the UK.”

RBSL Managing Director, Will Gibby said: “RBSL is playing a key part in delivering the Land Industrial Strategy through its Challenger 3 programme, ensuring it benefits from the best of British engineering and manufacturing, whilst also sustaining valuable skills across the country.

“Delivery of the first pre-production Challenger 3 and the commencement of trials marks a critical milestone in our delivery of this impressive capability to the British Army and will provide our soldiers with a world-class Main Battle Tank made here in the UK.”

Challenger 3 is being delivered by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) under a £800 million contract, creating a number of highly skilled roles, with nearly 300 jobs generated within RBSL, including 130 engineers and 70 technicians, with an additional 450 jobs across the UK. The contract is also attracting a £40 million inward investment in RBSL’s Telford facility, utilising a UK supply chain that includes companies in the West Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Isle of Wight.

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