Land vehicles

Challenger 3 Upgrades: Programme's Timeline Revealed

The Government has laid out the schedule for the vehicle's intended upgrades over the coming decade.

The Government has published its timetable for the Challenger 3 programme.

Over the next decade, 148 of the British Army's 227 existing Challenger 2 main battle tanks are set to be upgraded as part of a £800m contract and the remaining vehicles retired.

The upgrades, which include a new turret, are aimed at giving the vehicle "added mobility, survivability and lethality".

In their formal response to a Defence Committee report on Britain's armoured vehicle capability, the Government has revealed its expected schedule for the Challenger 3's development, including key milestones.

In its written response released earlier this month, the Government said it considered a range of "comparative off-the-shelf alternatives" to an upgrade to the existing vehicle, but concluded extending the life of the Challenger 2 "offers better value for money" than adopting the likes of the German Leopard 2 or the US M1 Abrams.

They also revealed they considered fitting their main battle tank with an auto-loader, but dismissed this on "capability and technical feasibility grounds", adding: "It is not believed it would deliver any substantial benefit."

Among the dates on the UK's timeline for production are design reviews in August 2021 and October 2022, trials beginning in May 2024 and manufacturing starting in July 2025.

Training and initial operational capability are expected by 2027, before becoming fully operational three years later.

Much of the Challenger 3 manufacturing will be in the UK, centring on factories in Telford, generating and sustaining up to 500 jobs in the West Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Isle of Wight.

As well as the new turret, the engine will be upgraded, as well as enhanced armour.

The vehicle will be fully digitised, including a new laser warning system and an active protection system

Watch: Before specific details on the Challenger 3 upgrade were announced, we got an expert's view on what the needs of the Army are.