The Challenger 2 main battle tank was developed as a private venture to replace the previous Chieftain MBT in service with British Army. It is a further development of the Challenger 1 MBT. The new main battle tank is significantly more capable than its predecessor. It entered service with the British Army in 1994. Currently the Challenger 2 is in service with United Kingdom (386) and Oman (38).
It is one of the most protected tanks in the world. This main battle tank provides a very high level of protection against direct fire weapons. The Challenger 2 features Chobham composite armor of the second generation, which gives better protection with less weight. Tank’s turret was also redesigned. Explosive reactive armor kits can be fitted for added protection. The Challenger 2 is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems. This MBT can be also be fitted with VIRSSS (Visual and Infra-Red Smoke Screening System).
Vehicle is fitted with a new L30E4 120-mm rifled gun, capable of firing a wide variety of standard NATO munitions. This gun is loaded manually. Effective range of fire with armor-piercing round is over 3 000 m. The Challenger gun claims the longest-distance tank kill in history. During Gulf War it defeated an Iraqi tank at a range of 4 km.
Secondary armament consists of two 7.62-mm machine guns. One of them is coaxially mounted with the main gun, while the other is placed on top of the roof.
Challenger 2 is fitted with a new fire control system. Some of its components are similar to the US M1A1 Abrams and French Leclerc MBTs. Its fire control system has a high hit probability against stationary and moving targets. This main battle tank has a battle management system similar to that, used on the M1A1 Abrams. Furthermore British tanks can interchange information with US tanks.
Vehicle has a crew of four, including commander, gunned, loader and driver.
The Challenger 2 is powered by a Perkins CV12 TCA turbocharged diesel engine, similar to that on the Challenger 1. This engine develops 1 200 horsepower. It is worth mentioning though that comparable Western MBTs – the M1A2 Abrams and Leopard 2A5 have more powerful engines, developing 1500 hp. The Challenger is famous for its mechanical reliability. Suspension has been improved, particularly a hydraulic track pre-tensioner was added. Despite an increase in weight the Challenger 2 has similar cross-country performance to the previous vehicle. Additional fuel tanks can be mounted at the rear of the hull for extended operational range. It can also be fitted with a dozer blade. It is worth mentioning that all Challenger 1 MBTs can be upgraded to the Challenger 2 standard.
|Dimensions and weight|
|Length (gun forward)||11.55 m|
|Hull length||8.33 m|
|Main gun||120-mm rifled|
|Machine guns||2 x 7.62-mm|
|Elevation range||– 10 to + 20 degrees|
|Traverse range||360 degrees|
|Main gun||50 rounds|
|Machine guns||4 000 x 7.62-mm|
|Engine||Perkins CV12 TCA diesel|
|Engine power||1 200 hp|
|Maximum road speed||56 km/h|
|Vertical step||0.9 m|