As Britain prepares to send tanks to Ukraine in a military boost to the country, the British Army’s transformational industrial and equipment programmes remain at the very core of its vision for the future.
While 2023 will be a challenging year on many fronts, the British Army will be taking the next steps towards its Future Soldier concept, as outlined in the Integrated Review of 2021.
This will enhance the Army’s ability to compete, providing a constant global presence engaging with allies and partners, and building a modern force fit to face current and future threats.
Future Soldier is the most significant transformation of the British Army in more than 20 years. The combination of soldiers enhanced with technology will enable the British Army to maintain its advantage.
The vision beyond 2030 sees upgraded, digitised and networked armoured vehicles provide the critical link to the ‘autonomous’ future of armoured capability through human and machine teaming.
They will continue to transform the way we operate and fight, as the character of conflict continues to evolve, providing the best opportunity to generate mass by augmenting our forces enabling us to increase the dispersion of manned platforms and remaining self-sufficient for longer.
Whilst new technologies present opportunities for significant advantage, the modern battlefield is still characterised by close combat, as demonstrated in Ukraine.
The battles there have continued to demonstrate that armoured vehicles, although not without risk, underwrite mobility, survivability, and lethality in the close battles of modern warfare contributing to combat credibility and deterrence.
No existing capability can match the tactical utility or strategic influence of armoured forces.
The enduring utility of armoured platforms combining the holy trinity of firepower, protection and mobility continues to play a critical and central role in delivering the Future Soldier vision.
It is Ajax, Boxer and Challenger 3 that will form the backbone of Future Soldier.
The first UK Boxer will come off the production line early this year. The modern digitalised armoured vehicle will be made up of four variants: an Infantry Carrier; a Specialist Carrier; a Command Vehicle; and an Ambulance.
The vehicle design includes 360-degree high-definition long-range cameras attached to the outside of the vehicle that will scan for enemy threats even when moving at speed. The camera alerts the soldiers inside the Boxer through a digital display so that they can keep permanent watch outside whilst remain safely inside the vehicle.
The Challenger 3 programme will see 148 of the Army’s existing Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks upgrade to Challenger 3.
This will be a modernised Main Battle Tank; becoming one of the most protected and most lethal tanks in Europe meeting current and emerging threats until at least 2040.
The tank will lead NATO armoured forces with the highest levels of lethality and survivability on the battlefields of today and out to 2040.
It will be fitted with a digitised backbone connecting it to the other combat vehicles that make up the fighting Brigade.