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The CHALLENGER 2 Lifetime Extension Project (C2 LEP) has further developed the UK’s MBT to provide the British Army with a state-of-the-art system that will last until at least 2035. The UK MoD and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), the joint venture between Rheinmetall and BAE Systems Land UK established in 2019, have agreed in a €930M contract to supply 148 CHALLENGER 3s between 2021 and 2030. Planned IOC for the MBT is 2027 followed by FOC in 2030. For Rheinmetall, this results in a contract value of €770M (excluding taxes), the company stated.
BAE Systems and Rheinmetall had been involved in C2 LEP with separate developments until the activities were merged through the formation of RBSL. After that, there was only one supplier, who has now been contracted to carry out the work. Four work packages were described in the development contract:
1) for surveillance and reconnaissance, day/night combat capability was to be established with, among other things, third generation thermal imagers in the observation channels for the commander and gunner.
2) for fire control, a digital fire control system with central computer, control panel and interface to the weapon system.
3) for mobility, hydropneumatic suspension as well as revised air filters, fuel injection, cooling and transmission.
4) For the electronic architecture, a modern data bus for the distribution of video data, among other things, with interfaces conforming to the Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) and improved man-machine interfaces.

CHALLENGER 3 Enhancements

In addition – at Rheinmetall’s suggestion – the 120-mm smoothbore high-pressure gun L55A1 will be integrated. The gun can fire the ammunition currently offered by Rheinmetall as well as that which will be available in the future – including sub-calibre fin stabilised kinetic ammunition or programmable multi-purpose ammunition.
The result is the fully digitised, network-enabled, CHALLENGER 3 with a new turret structure to digitally process information from all ranges. Modernised surveillance and target acquisition capabilities, the 120mm gun with advanced ammunition, reinforced modular armour and improved survivability systems increase the system’s assertiveness and enhance crew survivability. The new physical, electronic and electrical architecture also offers significant growth potential in all major capability areas of the MBT for decades to come.
With this modernisation, the CHALLENGER will rejoin the ranks of the world’s most capable MBTs. Much of the modernisation work is to take place at RBSL’s long-established site in Telford, UK. Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH holds 55 per cent of the shares in the RBSL JV, the successor to Vickers Defence Systems, which delivered theCHALLENGER 2 25 years ago.
Gerhard Heiming