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Vickers Defence Systems began to develop a successor to Challenger 1 as a private venture in Production began in and the unit's tanks were delivered in July , replacing the Challenger 1. The tank entered service with the British Army in , with the last delivered in It is expected to remain in service until The Challenger 2 is an extensive redesign of the Challenger 1. The Challenger 2 is equipped with a millimetre 4. Unique among NATO main battle tank armament, the L30A1 is rifled , because the British Army continues to place a premium on the use of High-explosive squash head HESH rounds in addition to armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding-sabot rounds.
Fifty  main armament rounds and 4, rounds of 7. The Challenger 2 has a four-man crew. The turret and hull are protected with second generation Chobham armour also known as Dorchester. On one occasion, in August , during the post-invasion stage of the Iraq War , an RPG was fired at a Challenger 2 that was climbing over a ramp. The armour on its front underside hull, which was augmented with an explosive reactive armour package, was damaged, injuring several crew members. The tank subsequently returned to base under its own power and was quickly repaired and back on duty the following day.
The Challenger 2 is the third vehicle of this name, the first being the A30 Challenger , a World War II design using the Cromwell tank chassis with a pounder gun.
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They evaluated the American M1 Abrams offered by General Dynamics , but the Thatcher government chose to proceed with the Challenger 2 in December At the last of these milestones, Vickers was to have met 11 key criteria for the tank's design. Oman ordered 18 Challenger 2s in and a further 20 tanks in November Production began in at two primary sites: Elswick, Tyne and Wear and Barnbow, Leeds , although over subcontractors were involved. The first tanks were delivered in July The Challenger 2 successfully completed its Reliability Growth Trial in Three vehicles were tested for simulated battlefield days.
Each day consisted of:. The tank exceeded all staff requirements. A British military document from indicated that the British Army would not procure a replacement for the Challenger 2 because of a lack of foreseeable conventional threats in the future. Sources confirmed that the future of the MBT was being considered at the highest levels of the Army. This stemmed from the British Army's concern with the new Russian T Armata main battle tank and the growing ineffectiveness of the aging L30 rifled gun and its limited suite of ammunition.
Further, it was confirmed that numerous armoured vehicle manufacturers had discussions with the MoD about a potential replacement for the Challenger 2. It is fitted with a muzzle reference system and fume extractor , and is controlled by an all-electric control and stabilization system. The turret has a rotation time of 9 seconds through degrees.
This is because the British Army continues to place a premium on the use of high explosive squash head HESH rounds in addition to Armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding-sabot rounds. An electrically fired vent tube is used to initiate firing of the main armament rounds. The main armament ammunition is thus described to be "three-part ammunition", consisting of the projectile, charge and vent tube.
The separation of ammunition pieces also aids in ensuring lower chances of ammunition detonation. The Challenger can also mount a Leonardo "Enforcer" remote control weapons system bearing a 7. The thermal image is displayed on both the gunner's and commander's sights and monitors. The driver's position is equipped with a Thales Optronics image-intensifying Passive Driving Periscope PDP for night driving and a rear view thermal camera.
The Challenger 2 is a heavily armoured and well protected tank. Crew safety was paramount in the design, using a solid state electric drive for its turret and gun movement, thus removing the traditional risk of hydraulic rupture into the crew compartment.
Explosive reactive armour kits are also fitted as necessary along with additional bar armour. The nuclear, biological and chemical NBC protection system is located in the turret bustle. The tank's shape is also designed to minimise its radar signature. On each side of the turret are five L8 smoke grenade dischargers.
Modelling the Challenger 1 and 2 MBT and Variants by Graeme Davidson Pat Johnston | Book
The Challenger 2 can also create smoke by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust manifolds. The British Army maintained its requirement for a four-man crew including a loader after risk analysis of the incorporation of an automatic loader suggested that auto-loaders reduced battlefield survivability. Mechanical failure and the time required for repair were prime concerns. Similar to every British tank since the Centurion , and most other British AFVs, Challenger 2 contains a boiling vessel BV for water, which can be used to brew tea, produce other hot beverages and heat boil-in-the-bag meals contained in field ration packs.
MOD Spokesman, speaking in regard to the Challenger 2 . The Challenger 2 had been used in peacekeeping missions and exercises before, but its first combat use came in March during the invasion of Iraq. The problems that had been identified during the large Saif Sareea II exercise, held 18 months earlier, had been solved by the issuing of Urgent Operational Requirements for equipment such as sand filters and so during the invasion of Iraq the tank's Operational availability was improved.
During the invasion of Iraq , the Challenger 2 tanks suffered no tank losses to Iraqi fire, although one was penetrated by an Improvised explosive device IED. This was, at the time, unprotected by Dorchester armour. The driver was injured.
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In one encounter within an urban area, a Challenger 2 came under attack from irregular forces with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. The driver's sight was damaged and while attempting to back away under the commander's directions, the other sights were damaged and the tank threw its tracks entering a ditch. It was back in operation six hours later. The tank, which had already been hit by 10—15 RPGs, small arms and sniper fire, was attempting to draw fire away from another callsign that had become stricken.
Modelling the Challenger 1 and 2 MBT and Variants
Chance was able to reverse the vehicle 1. The incident was not made public until May ; in response to accusations that crews had been told the tank was impervious to the insurgents' weapons, the MoD said "We have never claimed that the Challenger 2 is impenetrable. To help prevent incidents of this nature, Challenger 2s have been upgraded with a new passive armour package, including the use of add-on armour manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel. This includes tungsten-based kinetic energy penetrators , which do not have the same political and environmental objections as depleted uranium rounds.
A single Challenger 2 was fitted with the L55 and underwent trials in January Other improvements have also been considered, including a regenerative NBC protection system.
However, by mid, the programme was in danger of slipping, or even being cancelled, as a result of defence budget shortfalls.