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Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank #1
United Kingdom

Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank

Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank
Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

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Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.


The Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank is the new 3rd Generation MBT scheduled to enter service with the British Army in 2027, making it the most advanced, heavily protected Main Battle Tank in Europe and NATO. It features a refurbished Challenger 2 hull with a new turret, packed with the latest sighting technology and L55A1 main gun.


The Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank has served the British Army since 1998, but has been victim to the gradual decline in the UK of tank and ammunition manufacturing facilities, resulting in cannibalization of parts and scraping some Challenger 2 tanks.

As part of a continued effort to keep the Challenger 2 in British Army service beyond 2040, there have been a number of projects since the mid 2000’s to address these issues, including projects to source 120mm ammunition of outside the UK, improved suspension and use of the German 120mm L55 smoothbore, which would require a new turret as smoothbores use 1 part ammunition.

Challenger 3 Timeline –


No longer manufacturing ammunition for the Challenger 2’s L27 rifled 120mm main gun, CLIP saw a single Challenger 2 fitted with a Rheinmetall 120mm, Calibre Length 55 (same size as the L27) L55 smoothbore. The L27 uses 3 part ammunition, whilst the L55 uses one part. The findings of the project was that only x6 L55 rounds could be fitted in the x3 part ammunition storage and would therefore require a new turret.


The initial scope of the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP) was to identify and replace obsolete components of the Challenger 2.

By 2016 the LEP program was gaining traction (unlike previous programs) and saw a number of international providers, such as BAE, Rheinmetall and RUAG attend the DVD 2016 Defence Expo (held in the United Kingdom) with a number of Leopard 2 Technolgy Demonstrators and Challenger 2 tanks to demonstrate potential technology their companies could implement in any future Challenger 2 upgrade.

By 2018 just Rheinmetall and BAE were supplied with two Challenger 2 Tanks each. One for the purpose demonstrating works that fell under the initial program scope and the second as a technical demonstrator of what new technology improvements could be added.

Challenger 2 Black Night

Unveiled in 2018, the Black Night was the proposed upgrade package by BAE Systems. It featured – Active Protection System,
Laser Warning System, Regenerative braking, Thermal Imaging Technology, Accelerated fight-ability.

Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land Formation

In June 2019, it was announced and confirmed that Rheinmetall bought a controlling share in BAE Systems Land UK to form Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land Formation aka RBSL.

This meant there was now only one company successfully competing for the LEP contract.

RBSL Challenger 2 LEP Proposal

In September 2019, RBSL unveiled the companies new LEP proposal (which ended Black Night) which featured a refurbished hull and new universal turret with the latest version of the Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore.

RBSL Awarded Challenger 2 LEP Contract

In March 2021, RBSL won the £800 million contract to carry out all LEP works and upgrades.

Heavy Armour Automotive Improvement Programme

Started in July 2021, the HAAIP program with see current CR2 broken down to their bare hulls and inspected for serviceability and rebuilt with new mobility components, ready for their upgrade to the Challenger 3.

Challenger 3 Design Finalised

Following the Initial Design Review (IDR) held in March 2022, it was announced in February 2023 that the Critical Design Review had finalised and agreed the design for the Challenger 3 and the green light had been given to RBSL to start building the CR3 prototypes.


The new universal turret has been designed around the latest version of the Rheinmetall L55, as used on the Leopard 2A6. CR3’s is the L55A1, the most advanced and lethal anti-tank gun in NATO.

The decision to use the L55A1 eliminates the issue of a lack of ammunition being manufactured in the UK for the old CR2 L27 as Rheinmetall continue to manufacturer and develop ammunition for the 20+ countries using their main guns, making it also the most cost effective alternative to the L27 for the British Army.

CR3 will feature the most advanced sighting and detection technology on the market. The CR2 does have a Commanders Independent Sight. However, it lacks a thermal channel and can not be used at night, making CR2 a 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank during the daytime only.

The CR3 features a thermal channel for the Gunners sight and a separate thermal channel for the Commanders Independent Sight.

The turret will feature the latest in digital architecture with growth potential for the British Armies Future Solider program.


The CR3 will be the first British Army vehicle to feature a Hard Kill Active Protection System. The Israeli Trophy System uses radars to detect and track an incoming threat such as RPG, ATGM and HEAT rounds. It then fires a counter measure at the threat to neutralise it, avoiding the threats impact on the tank.

The CR3 features the 3rd generation of Chobham armour, replacing the Mk2 Dorchester used on the CR2.


Challenger 3 has retained its David Brown Santasalo TN54E transmission and Perkins CV12-9A 26.1 litre V12 diesel, but has been refurbished with an enhanced output. Cr3 features a new generation hydrogas suspension for both crew comfort and a steadier platform for firing on the move.


Untied Kingdom  –

Scheduled to enter service in 2027, a total of 148 Challenger 3 Main Battle Tanks will be built for the British Army at RBSL’s modernised Telford facility, which will also build the Boxer 8×8 fighting vehicle.

Potential Operators –

The CR3 features a new turret that has been designed to be married on to other Main Battle Tanks as an upgrade, similar to CR3. The (universal) turret is being manufactured by UK company, Pearson Engineering in Newcastle.


Main Gun
L55/A1 120mm Smoothbore
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Loaders Machine Gun, Optional Remote Weapons Station with MG
Ammunition Storage
Perkins Condor V-12 1200hp Diesel
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
Water Capability
Trench Crossing
Side Slope
Length Gun Forward
Length Hull
Ground Clearance
0.5m (?)
64 tonne
NBC Protected
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Composite, Modular
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Composite, Modular
Active Protection Systems
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver