Challenger 3
The British Army is set to have 148 Challenger 3s (Picture: British Army).
Army

UK to consider whether it needs larger tank fleet

Challenger 3
The British Army is set to have 148 Challenger 3s (Picture: British Army).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said he will review the number of the British Army's Challenger 3 conversions to consider "whether the lessons of Ukraine suggest that we need a larger tank fleet".

In 2021, it was announced 148 Challenger 2 main battle tanks would be upgraded to Challenger 3s – with the remaining 79 vehicles from the fleet set for retirement.

It comes as the UK prepares to give Ukraine 14 Challenger 2s as part of what Mr Wallace described to the House of Commons as the "most significant package of combat power to date to accelerate Ukrainian success".

"Even as we gift Challenger 2 tanks, I shall at the same time be reviewing the number of Challenger 3 conversions to consider whether the lessons of Ukraine suggest that we need a larger tank fleet," the Defence Secretary said.

"We will also build on the Army's modernisation programme at pace, specifically on artillery. I'm accelerating the Mobile Fires programme, so instead of delivering in the 2030s it will do this earlier this decade."

Watch: All you need to know about the Challenger 2.

Mr Wallace said the UK will bring a "further squadron of our own Challenger tanks to high readiness in place of the squadron" being sent to Ukraine.

The country has been calling on the West to send tanks as it aims to retake territory lost to Russian forces.

The Challenger 2 has been used on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and has never been defeated by the enemy. 

The UK awarded Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) an £800m contract in 2021 to upgrade 148 Challenger 2s into fully digitised Challenger 3s.

Upgrades to the Challenger 3 are set to include a new turret and a new automatic target detection and tracking system.

The Challenger 3s are expected to be fully operational by 2030.