Design of the Challenger 2 was essentially completed by August 1989 with the last bought-out items being delivered in February 1990. Of the nine Challenger 2 prototypes built, seven were built at Leeds and two at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. One additional Challenger 2 turret was built at Leeds.
By early August 1990, seven Challenger 2s had been completed and the final two were being fitted out. These all differed in minor ways but the ninth Challenger 2 incorporated all the 156 hull improvements, some of which could be fitted to Challenger 1 at regimental or base workshop level.
Vickers Defence Systems completed the demonstration phase of Challenger 2 on schedule at the end of September 1990. In June 1991, the UK government selected the Challenger 2 and placed an order worth around £520 million for 127 Challenger 2 MBTs and 13 Driver Training Tanks. Production commenced in 1993 with first production vehicles completed at Vickers Defence Systems' Leeds facility in July 1994.
The Challenger 2 MBT was formally accepted for service with the British Army on 16 May 1994.
In July 1994, Vickers Defence Systems was awarded a second contract by the UK MoD for the supply of an additional 259 Challenger 2 MBTs and nine Driver Training Tanks plus training and logistic support.
Total value of this contract is £1.2 billion and means that production of the Challenger 2 will continue through the first half of 2001.
Under the Strategic Defence Review the Royal Armoured Corps will have a total of six Challenger 2 MBT regiments, each of which will be equipped with 38 Challenger 2 MBTs. The first regiment to be equipped with the Challenger 2 was the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who achieved their in-service date of June 2000.
So far the only export customer for the Challenger 2 MBT is Oman, which placed a contract worth around £140 million in July 1993.
In November 1997, Vickers Defence Systems was awarded a contract worth more than £100 million for the supply of a further 20 Challenger 2 MBTs for Oman. The final batch of 10 vehicles were shipped to Oman late in 2000 and this enabled the Royal Oman 1st Main Battle Tank Regiment, based at Shaffa, to be fully equipped.
Early in 1999, the UK MoD confirmed that the Vickers Defence Systems Challenger 2 MBT had exceeded the most rigorous reliability targets ever set anywhere, during a demanding series of trials under battlefield conditions.
A squadron of 12 Challenger 2 MBTs manned by experienced British Army crews, completed the highly successful battle testing at the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) at the Royal Armoured Corps Centre at Bovington, Dorset.
They covered a total of 5,040 km during 84 simulated battlefield days and fired 2,850 rounds of 120 mm ammunition and 84,000 rounds of 7.62 mm machine gun ammunition.
Each simulated battlefield day included 33 km of cross-country running over rough terrain and 27 km of road running, the firing of 34 rounds of ammunition from the 120 mm BAE Systems, RO Defence L30 rifled tank gun and the firing of 1,000 rounds from the 7.62 coaxial Chain Gun which is also manufactured by BAE Systems, RO Defence.
All 12 Challenger 2 MBTs used during the trials out-performed the UK MoD's exacting reliability targets, according to Vickers Defence Systems.
During the development of the Challenger 2 the prototypes clocked up 20,400 km of road and cross-country and fired 11,600 rounds of 120 mm ammunition.
Production of the Challenger 2 was undertaken at Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Production of Challenger 2 was completed at Leeds in 1999 but continues at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The turret is a new design, incorporating second-generation Chobham armour with a significant increase in protection against both KE and CE attack.
The turret crew positions on Challenger 2 are similar to Challenger 1, with the commander seated on the right, the gunner forward and below the commander, and the loader on the left side. Each of them is provided with a lap-type seat belt.
Both the commander and the loader have a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear.
The tank commander has eight day unity magnification day periscopes for all-round observation. Under each periscope is a red button, when this is pressed the commander's sight slews so that it lines up with the periscope.
The loader has a single roof-mounted day periscope that can be traversed.
The NBC system is mounted in the turret bustle and fully meets all known threats. The crew environmental control system provides both heating and cooling for the crew compartment. This is the first time such a system has been installed in a British MBT.
Main armament of the Challenger 2 MBT consists of a BAE Systems, RO Defence 120 mm rifled tank gun designated the L30A1 which is of ESR steel, autofrettaged, chrome-lined and fitted with a thermal sleeve, fume extractor and muzzle reference system. It has a split-block sliding breech mechanism with an elastomeric obturating pad.
The 55 calibre L30A1 is the first British tank gun to be chrome-lined which gives the barrel a longer life as well as giving more consistent accuracy.
In addition to firing all current 120 mm ammunition, with the exception of the obsolete APDS round, the L30A1 also fires a new DU round L27A1 with a new BAE Systems, RO Defence L17A1 stick charge propellant system.
The first DU round is part of the CHARM 1 system (gun, charge and projectile) with the actual projectile being designated the L26. The CHARM 3 projectile is also of the DU type but has a greater length-to-diameter ratio and greater penetration characteristics. CHARM 3 will be the main wartime round for the Challenger 2 although it will not normally be fired in peacetime.
Late in 2000 it was revealed that BAE Systems, RO Defence had developed, as a private venture, a new APFSDS-T projectile with a conventional penetrator which has the unofficial designation of the L28. This is used with the L16 charge system. This is being offered for export customers of the Challenger 2E MBT who do not want to use the DU projectile.
Ammunition is of the separate loading type, that is projectile and charge, with all explosive ammunition being stowed below the turret ring for increased battlefield survivability. The charges are stowed in armoured bins.
Mounted coaxially, to the left of the main armament, is The Boeing Company 7.62 mm Chain Gun which is already in service with the British Army and installed in the Alvis Vehicles Warrior mechanised combat vehicle. This weapon has the British Army designation of the L94A1 and is manufactured by BAE Systems, RO Defence under licence in the UK. The loader has a Helio mount fitted with an externally mounted 7.62 mm L37A2 machine gun.
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