Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) has been awarded an £800m UK MOD contract to upgrade 148 British Army Challenger 3 Main Battle Tanks.
The upgraded Main Battle Tank vehicle will be equipped with a 120mm High Pressure L55A1 main gun featuring programmable multipurpose ammunition, increased first-hit capability and fire support technology.
A new turret structure and improved survivability system will provide ‘the highest standard’ of protection for the crew, RBSL announced, in addition to enhancements to the long-range commander and gunner primary sights with automatic target detection and acquisition.
According to RBSL, a UK-based joint venture between Rheinmetall and BAE Systems, the programme will create and sustain 450 jobs within the UK supply chain and a further 200 jobs within RBSL including 130 engineers and 70 technicians. RBSL will also provide training opportunities to 60 apprentices over the next five years.
Commencing this year with an expected in-service date of 2027, the programme has prompted a £20m inward investment to RBSL’s Telford manufacturing facility where the work will be led. Heavy Armour specialists based in Telford, Bristol and Washington (North East UK) will provide engineering support and RBSL will work with suppliers across the UK.
The contract will provide the UK with the opportunity to explore new technologies for integration in future capabilities and will protect the UK’s national skill base in defence and engineering, RBSL said, with potential to enable exports worldwide.
John Abunassar, RBSL board chairman said in a statement that the announcement solidifies the return of armoured vehicle engineering to the UK, adding: “The British Army will receive a world-class capability.
“RBSL, Vickers Defence Systems at the time, handed over the first Challenger 2s to the British Army over 25 years ago and it is a great deal of pride for our engineers to take this next step together too.”