The agreements, worth £23 million each, signal the start of the competitive Assessment Phase. We are building the most adaptive force to meet the threats of the future and this phase will enable the companies to develop innovative upgrades which will keep the formidable Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, crucial for the delivery of a modern ground manoeuvre warfighting capability as part of Joint Force 2025, in service with the British Army until 2035.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:
Modernising the British Army’s Main Battle Tank under the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project involves partnerships across Defence exploring innovative solutions.
Backed by a rising Defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, these tanks, just like the brand new Ajax armoured vehicle, are crucial to the British Army.
Challenger 2 has been in service since 1998 and has proven its worth in combat time and again; most notably during operations in Iraq in the 2000s.
Recent developments in electronics, computing and sight optics mean upgrades to several of the tank’s components are now possible.
The total value of the Challenger 2 Assessment Phase is £53 million. This includes both £23 million Assessment Phase contracts and a further £7 million to cover additional work.
The MOD’s investment will allow BAE Systems and Rheinmetall to undertake technical studies, produce detailed digital models and consider how upgrades will be integrated onto the current platform.
At the end of the Assessment Phase the companies will present their solutions to the MOD for consideration. The Demonstration and Manufacture Phases of the project will follow.
Chief of Materiel (Land) for Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), Lieutenant General Paul Jaques, said:
Challenger 2 is an excellent Main Battle Tank with an impressive operational track record.
The Challenger 2 Life Extension Project will upgrade the vehicle with the latest technology to make it available for operations out to 2035.
Challenger 2 has a crew of four and carries a 120 millimetre main gun and two 7.62 millimetre machine guns, with a top speed of around 59 kilometres per hour.
It is currently in service with the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment.