Firepower - mobility - protection: the three key aspects of any fighting vehicle.
The Challenger 2 is a main battle tank, designed to destroy other tanks. It has been used by the British Army on operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Iraq, and has never experienced a loss at the hands of the enemy.
Built in the UK by Vickers Defence Systems, now BAE Systems and Land Armaments, it was designed as a replacement to the Challenger 1 tank in 1986 and has been in service with the British Army since July 1994.
Challenger 2 is used by four armoured regiments, based in the South West of England at Tidworth, Wiltshire, and Bovington, Dorset. The regiments are called The Queen’s Royal Hussars, The King’s Royal Hussars, The Royal Tank Regiment, and The Royal Wessex Yeomanry which is the reserve regiment. Each regiment operates 56 Challenger 2 tanks and a similar number of supporting vehicles in tasks such as reconnaissance and ammunition supply.
Currently, a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks is deployed in Estonia where they have a leading role in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) in the Baltic States. This deployment seeks to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our allies and deter our adversaries.
The Challenger 2 has deployed to the Balkans on Peace Support Operations and to Iraq for Operation TELIC. The roles it fulfilled in both deployments were notably different and show the versatility of the tank and its utility in peace support as well as war fighting.
With an estimated 60,000 tanks currently in operation with armies across the globe, armour remains a key component of defence for most countries. Many of these vehicles are old, so as a modern platform, the Challenger 2 remains an immensely capable piece of equipment able to fulfil the wide range of tasks required of it.
The Challenger 2 is the British Army’s main battle tank. One of its strengths lies in its ability to shock the enemy by placing them enemy under pressure by a rapid and fully-committed advance, causing them to break and retreat. This form of manoeuvre has been present on the battlefield for centuries and was previously the role of horse-mounted cavalry. The industrialsation of warfare and the need for greater protection on an increasingly lethal battlefield makes the tank an essential part of the modern army The mere presence of a tank on the battlefield, or even the suspicion of one can significantly boost the morale of our troops whilst simultaneously undermining that of the enemy, in both offensive and defensive situations.
The effectiveness of a tank is determined by a balance between its protection, firepower and mobility. Known as the ‘Iron Trinity’, the design of all tanks must achieve a balance between these fundamental characteristics. The Challenger 2 prioritises firepower (provided by its rifled 120mm L30A1 main armament which holds the distance record for the destruction of another tank) and protection (provided by the UK designed world-class Dorchester 2 armour.) These world-beating technologies make Challenger 2 slightly slower than some of its opponents, but the accuracy and lethality of the Challenger 2 offset their higher speeds.
Training occurs at Armour Centre in Bovington, Dorset or through distributed training at regiment. There are four crew roles in a Challenger 2 tank:
Commander – The commander is responsible for the tactical movement and command of the vehicle and crew. To qualify for this role a commander must pass a 6-month course which includes a heavy focus on tactics
Loader – The loader is responsible for loading the main armament and the tanks machine gun. The loader can take command of the tank if the commander is otherwise occupied or incapacitated. The loader will have been both a gunner and a driver on a tank before taking up this role.
Gunner – The gunner is Responsible for identification of targets, as well as firing the tank's weapons. The gunner is also responsible for maintaining the tank's guns. Gunners will usually also been a driver on a tank before taking up this role.
Driver – The driver is the most junior member of the crew. They usually come directly from training and are responsible for the driving and low-level maintenance of the automotive aspects of the vehicle.
|Mass||62.5 tonnes (61.5 long tons; 68.9 short tons), with a combat-ready weight of 75.0 tonnes (73.8 long tons; 82.7 short tons) with add-on armour modules.|
|Crew||4 (commander, gunner, loader/operator, driver)|
|Armour||Chobham / Dorchester Level 2 (secret)|
|Main Armament||L30A1 120 mm rifled gun with 47 rounds|
|Secondary Armament||Coaxial 7.62 mm L94A1 chain gun EX-34 (chain gun), 7.62 mm L37A2 Operator/Loader's hatch machine gun|
|Engine||Perkins CV12-6A V12 diesel 26.1 litres, 1,200 bhp (890 kW)|
|Fuel capacity||1,592 litres (350 imp gal; 421 US gal)|
|Operational Range||550 km (340 mi) on road, 250 km (160 mi) off-road on internal fuel|
|Maximum speed||59 km/h (37 mph) on road, 40 km/h (25 mph) off-road|
The ranges in Hohne echoed to the sound of Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks firing as the The Queen’s Royal Hussars were put through their paces in challenging weather conditions as part of their final preparations for BATUS in Canada.
The Warrior infantry fighting vehicle has the speed and performance to keep up with Challenger 2 main battle tanks over the most difficult terrain, and the firepower and armour to support infantry in the assault.
The Warrior family of seven variants of armoured vehicles, which entered service in 1988, has been highly successful for armoured infantry battlegroups in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo and Iraq.
They provide excellent mobility, lethality and survivability for the infantry and have enabled key elements from the Royal Artillery and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to operate effectively within the battlegroup.
A highly successful armoured fighting vehicle, Warrior can be fitted with enhanced armour and is continuously being updated - the battlegroup thermal imagery was fitted to increase its night-fighting capability.
Warrior infantry command and section vehicles are fitted with a turret mounted 30mm Rarden cannon that will defeat light armoured vehicles out to a range of 1500m, an 8x magnification image-intensifying night sight and eight 94mm light anti-armour weapon HEAT rockets.
Warrior variants include artillery observation post vehicle (OPV), command post vehicle (CPV), and a REME recovery and repair vehicle. All variants are equipped with a 7.62mm chain gun. Both chain gun and Rarden cannon have an anti-helicopter capability.
3 + 7
Bulldog & FV430 series
The FV 430 family of armoured vehicles entered service with the British Army in the 1960s, but regular maintenance and improvements including a new power train have enabled this old workhorse to remain in service into the 21st Century.
The FV432 can be converted for use in water, when it has a speed of 6km/h. Properly maintained, it is a rugged and reliable vehicle with a good cross country performance.
FV 430 variants remain in service with the infantry, as command vehicles, 81mm mortar carriers, ambulances and recovery vehicles.
A recent upgrade programme has seen the delivery of over 100 uparmoured and upgraded FV430 troop carriers (Bulldog). Mechanised infantry use the Bulldog APC as a form of protected mobility to move around the battlefield. Bulldog offers protection against small arms and artillery fire and provides good strategic and cross-country mobility.
For counter-insurgency operations the up-armoured FV430 provides a similar level of protection to Warrior and the vehicle is able to carry out many of the same tasks as Warrior, thereby relieving the pressure on heavily committed Warrior vehicles in armoured infantry battlegroups.
1 x 7.62 machine gun, 2 x 3-barrel smoke dischargers
Rolls-Royce K60 No. 4 Mark 1-4
The tracked Stormer vehicle provides a mobile platform for the Starstreak High Velocity Missile (HVM) system giving the detachment protection and excellent mobility with eight ready to fire missiles and a further nine stowed inside.
The HVM system is a low-level Close Air Defence system with a rapid engagement capacity optimised to counter the attack helicopter threat. This highly flexible system is also capable of being fired using the lightweight multiple launcher or from the shoulder. The missile employs a system of three dart type projectiles which can make multiple hits on the target. Each of these darts has an explosive warhead.
The system is fitted with a roof-mounted air defence alerting device, providing target detection and prioritisation. A panoramic weapon sight is located at the front of the vehicle.