Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme by BAE Systems

Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme by BAE Systems

Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme is being run by the Defence Equipment and Support organisation on behalf of the British MoD to modernise the British Armies Challenger 2 Tank Fleet and keep it operational until 2035.

The Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme is aka as the Challenger 2 LEP and also refered to as the “Challenger 2 Mark” by BAE Systems “Team Challenger 2” in the companies bid for the Challenger 2 LEP.

Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme Explained

LRU stands for Line Replacement Unit. An LRU are generally electrical operated systems, which can be anything from a windscreen wiper motor to the processors in the Fire Control System or sighting equipment.

The Challenger 2 currently has 100 LRU that are obsolete. Due to the lack of spares kept by the army and unavailable original manufacturers of the LRU, the army has predicated the number of obsolete LRU will grow by another 75 by 2025.

In addition a number of Challenger 2 Tanks operate the Mk1 track system, while others operate the Mk2.

The Mk2 track systems have top hats in end connectors to stop them falling off, whilst the Mk1 does not. They also have different track links and different connectors.

Challenger 2 LEP will address this issue of replacing all current obsolete LRU and those predicted for the future. It may also address the track system issues.

Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme Upgrades

The main LPU replacements will focus on the Fire Control System. It is hoped that not only will the Gunner have new thermal sighting equipment, but the Commanders Independent Sight will be replaced and include a thermal channel to provide a better hunter killer capability.

There will be no upgrades to the lethality of the Challenger 2. Previous projects have shown the Challenger 2 ammunition storage is incompatible with 120mm smoothbore rounds.

The current L30 main gun was designed to deal with all current and future threats well beyond 2020 as stated in declassified papers of 2016. The ATDU in the last year or so have tested a new unnamed armour-piercing, fin-stabilised, discarding sabot (APFSDS) round as a possible replacement to the current CHARM-3 APFSDS.

The engine is not expected to change, nor the armor.

Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme Timeline

2013 – First public announcement of the project

2015 – DE&S organisation releases its pre-qualification questionnaire for defence companies to reply

2015 October – The MoD confirm in their “The Defence Equipment Plan 2015” that Challenger 2 LEP will be one of the vehicles funded by a planned investment of around £17bn on Land Equipment over the next decade

2016 January – Closing date of PQQ. DE&S received a number of replies to its pre-qualification questionnaire from Defence Companies: BAE Systems Combat Vehicles (UK), General Dynamics Land Systems UK, Lockheed Martin UK, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall of Germany, CMI Defence of Belgium, and RUAG Defence of Switzerland.

2016 June – BAE Systems announce ‘Team Challenger 2’ in its bid for the Challenger 2 LEP. The team is made up of seven key players in the defence industry: General Dynamics Land Systems-UK; General Dynamics Mission Systems-International; Leonardo-Finmeccanica (formerly Selex ES Ltd); Moog, QinetiQ and Safran Electronics (formerly Sagem).

Jennifer Osbaldestin, Managing Director of BAE Systems Land (UK), said “We have taken an innovative approach in teaming for this bid to enable the best and most experienced partners to develop and deliver a winning solution. This approach gives us access to capabilities and facilities that will sustain Challenger 2 through life and offer a value for money solution for British taxpayers.

 “BAE Systems designed and built Challenger 2, we are now excited about the opportunity to use our expertise with the rest of Team Challenger 2 to update and integrate new technology to further extend the capability for the British Army.”

 The work to convert the tanks to the new Challenger 2 Mark 2 standard would be carried out at General Dynamics’ factory in South Wales, where the British Army’s new AJAX vehicle will start production in 2017.

 General Dynamics Land Systems-UK is currently designing and manufacturing the new AJAX vehicle for the British Army, the largest vehicle production programme in the UK. General Dynamics Mission Systems-International supplied systems for the original Challenger 2 and is a major provider to the US Army.

 As a key strategic partner on the bid team, Vice President of General Dynamics Land Systems-UK, Kevin Connell, added: “This is a great opportunity to leverage the capabilities of AJAX.  We would deliver the Challenger 2 Mark 2 vehicles from our new manufacturing facility in Merthyr Tydfil, helping to sustain and create new jobs at the site.  With the skills we have developed designing and producing AJAX, we are well positioned to be part of Team Challenger 2.”

 David Ibbetson, Vice President, General Dynamics Mission Systems-International added: “As a supplier to the original Challenger 2 tank, I am delighted that General Dynamics Mission Systems is a member of Team Challenger 2.  With our skills and expertise, we can offer the UK MOD value for money, whilst providing the most technologically advanced and proven systems available.”

Key capabilities of Team Challenger 2 are:

  • Design Authority – BAE Systems

Systems Integration and Engineering:

  • BAE Systems
  • General Dynamics Land Systems-UK
  • QinetiQ

Specialist technologies:

  • General Dynamics Mission Systems-International
  • Leonardo-Finmeccanica (formerly Selex ES Ltd)
  • Moog
  • Safran Electronics (formerly Sagem)

Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme Project Status

As of July 2016, it is expected that DE&S will award 2 of the companies who responded to PQQ, an assessment phase contract. These are expected to last for two years. This phase will see both companies produce their versions of the “Challenger 2 Mark 2”. The winning company will be expected to commence production in 2019.

It is also worth noting that LEP is not the only option that has been explored to provide the British Army with a serviceable tank. Sources close to the site have confirmed that costing for procuring other existing international tanks as an alternative have been sought.

These may be purchased as an alternative should the price tag of the Challenger 2 Mk2 be too high and no longer a cost-effective option.

Challenger 2 Tank Specifications

Main Gun 120mm, calibre Length 55 Rifled L30 CHARM
Elevation -10 to +20
Secondary Weapons x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 7.62mm MG
Ammunition Storage x50 120mm, x4,000 7.62mm
Engine Perkins Condor V-12 1200hp Diesel
Transmission David Brown TN54 epicyclical (6 forward/ 2 reverse gears)
Top Road Speed 56 km/h (Governed)
Road Range 450 km
Fuel Capacity 1592 Litres
Vertical Obstacle 0.9m
Water Capability 1.07m
Trench Crossing 2.34m
Gradient 60%
Side Slope 30%
Length Gun Forward 11.55m
Length Hull 8.327m
Height 2.49m (roof top)
Ground Clearance 0.5m
Weight 62,500kg aka 62.5 tonne combat
NBC Protected Yes
Armor Type Steel/Composite/modular/passive/ERA
Active Protection Systems No
Commander Yes
Gunner Yes
Loader Yes
Driver Yes
Additional Crew
Troops Carried n/a