A new study designed to look at the mental and physical stresses on a Challenger tank crew during live firing and to boost their effectiveness has been launched.
Scientists and experts in the field have been investigating the impact of being in a Challenger 2 (CR2) tank during live firing to assess the impact it has on the crew members and to inform the future development of our new Main Battle Tank (MBT) Challenger 3 (CR3).
The aim of the study, being held at the Army’s Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire, is to develop more effective tank crews and to cement their experience as mounted close combat experts.
It is also hoped that the results will be used to inform the design and human factor integration in the new Challenger 3 (CR3) main battle tank.
The investigations initially took the form of observations to understand how a tank crew works together, a unique working environment not replicated anywhere else in the British Army.
Major Steve Bee, Officer Commanding D Squadron (The Black Pig) of the Queen’s Royal Hussars, who is supporting the study, said: “It is a golden opportunity to help to make us more effective and professional at our core role.
“Additionally, the potential future benefits for CR3 could be invaluable in the design of the vehicle.”
Major Bee added that the study looked at both the physical stresses as well as the cognitive load on crew members, adding: “The different crew positions require a blend of both physical and mental exertion.
“The role of a loader, for example, is much more physical than that of a commander, which is much more mentally draining.
“The tank commander’s role, on the other hand, requires the assimilation of multiple sources of information and processing them to create synergised kinetic effects at the right time and place.”
The fact the study was carried out during live firing, as opposed to in a simulator, was especially relevant as the crews were operating under much more realistic pressures and conditions.
Major Bee said the initial scoping study is designed to identify any gaps in understanding and to inform future broader studies. He added: “The Army is always looking to make their training as safe as possible whilst also retaining maximum training value which makes us as lethal as possible.
“It is hoped that the study will begin to identify areas of human factors integration (how a crew works with a vehicle) which will ensure that CR3 is as intuitive as possible. Longer term, it could be the first step in defining which Physical Employment Standards are most pertinent to an armoured crew.”
A full squadron of 14 crews, numbering 56 soldiers, took place in the study over two days, allowing scientists to observe a total of 20 live fire exercises, each one lasting between 20 and 30 minutes.
Three scientists participated and the investigations will culminate in workshops which are designed to inform a longer more in-depth future study.