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DSEI 2015: British Army considers new MBT in response to Russia's …

Key Points

  • The UK is looking at upgrade or replacement options for its current Challenger 2 MBT
  • The effort has partly been prompted by the unveiling of Russia’s new-generation T-14 Armata MBT in May

Senior British Army officers and procurement officials are examining the future of the BAE Systems Challenger 2 main battle tank (MBT), including possibly buying a new vehicle. The effort is a continuation of a project launched more than a decade ago to upgrade the British Army’s tank fleet, but earlier this year army chiefs ordered a wider effort to look at radical solutions to the increasing obsolescence of the service’s 227 Challenger 2s. Speaking at DSEI in London on 16 September, the head of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter, confirmed that the future of the Challenger 2 was being considered at the army’s highest levels.

Asked if the army was looking to buy a new tank to counter the recently unveiled Russian T-14 Armata, Gen Carter said, “We have got issues with the tanks we’ve got and if we don’t do something about it we will have issues – what we will do is in discussion.”

A senior army procurement officer told IHS Jane’s that a new MBT was one option being considered, alongside a limited life extension programme (LEP) to replace obsolete parts or a wider upgrade. “We have not decided on the scope of the programme,” he said. Industry sources told IHS Jane’s that executives of several armoured vehicle providers had talked to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the future of the Challenger 2, including options for a new MBT. British Army officers have become increasingly worried about the Challenger 2’s effectiveness, particularly the lethality of its L30A1 120mm rifled main gun and its suite of ammunition. One officer told IHS Jane’s that “the appearance of the T-14 Armata has had a significant impact and assessments of the new Russian tank’s armour and self-defence systems [have] suggested that the Challenger 2’s 120mm main armament no longer cuts it”.

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