A "major milestone" has been reached for the British Army's Challenger 3 (CR3) main battle tank programme, with test firings of the new 120mm smoothbore gun being complete and the basic turret structure being delivered.
Manufacturer Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) said the new 120mm L55A1CR3 weapon system would give the Army the capability to confront all current and future battlefield challenges.
Military officials hope the CR3 programme will deliver the most capable tank in Nato.
The first firings with the 120mm weapon system took place in April.
The initial two 120mm smoothbore L55A1 weapons entered production ahead of schedule in 2021 at Rheinmetall's facility in Unterluess, Germany.
The guns have since been tested and validated ahead of delivery to RBSL's premises in Telford in the West Midlands to be integrated with the new digital turret.
The first CR3 'citadel' for the first prototype arrived in Telford in August. This is the steel structure that will be the basis of the first CR3 turret, following trials.
Gareth Ayre, RBSL's head of physical architecture and mobility for Challenger 3 said: "Completing the first turret structure of CR3 is a significant milestone in the delivery of this next-generation main battle tank.
"This is a fantastic achievement from both a manufacture and partnership perspective from everyone involved, and a major boost for UK prosperity."
RBSL and the British Army have a long-standing relationship and RBSL has delivered existing combat vehicles such as the Challenger 2. RBSL is also one of the major manufacturers of the Boxer armoured vehicle.
The Challenger 2 has a rifled barrel, which is exceptionally accurate, however Nato counterparts such as the Leopard 2, M1A2 Abrams and Leclerc have smoothbore barrels, which increase barrel life and improve ammunition compatibility, hence the move to the new main gun on the Challenger 3.