As part of an £800 million contract with Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) the British Army will see 148 of the service’s existing 227 assorted FV4034 Challenger Mk 2 main battle tanks upgraded to become the new-and-improved Challenger Mk 3.
The Ministry of Defence is predicting the new vehicle will be the “most lethal tank in Europe.”
“This represents a huge shift in the modernization of our land forces through the increased lethality of Challenger 3,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
Besides a new Rheinmetall Rh-120 120mm/55 caliber smoothbore gun– which is the same model used by updated Leopard 2A6 and a longer model than the same company’s 120mm L44 used on the M1A1 Abrams, K1A1 from South Korea, and the Italian C1 Ariete– in place of the C2’s current Royal Ordnance 120/55 L30A1 tank gun, Challenger 3 “will be fully digitalized integrating information from all domains whilst being able to travel up to 60mph.”
The Challenger 2 has been in service since 1998 and had replaced the Gulf War-era Challenger.
Full Operating Capability for the rebuilt and rebranded tank is planned for 2030, with initial operating capability expected by 2027. As the British Army currently only has MBTs in three regular and one Yeomanry (reserve) armored regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps, you can expect at least one of these units to be disbanded or switch to a less heavy role before then.
The remaining ~79 Challenger 2s not receiving upgrades will be retired. Oman, the only other country operating the type, could possibly pick them up as spares.