We had the fantastic news just before Christmas that the BAE Systems-led Team Challenger 2 was awarded a £23m contract by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to take part in the Assessment Phase for the tank’s Life Extension Project.
During the Assessment Phase, Team Challenger 2 will work with the UK MOD to develop options for which systems should be replaced and how the work package would be delivered to keep the tank in service until 2035. The contract means that BAE Systems – which has been making tanks for the British Army since 1916 and originally made Challenger 2 – continues to play a major part in UK tank design and technology in the 21st century.
The strength of our Team is in our people. As well as engineers who designed and built the original Challenger 2 – who know every inch – we have engineers, graduates and apprentices specialising in the latest mature technologies. And we have already recruited additional specialists to design and deliver Challenger 2 Mark 2. If you speak to any of them, you’ll find they are all passionate about Challenger 2. Much like the story from NASA where everyone knew they were putting a man on the moon, every member of our team knows they are designing a better, more capable Challenger 2 Mark 2.
BAE Systems’ connection with the British Army and its tanks goes much deeper than just a business level. As well as having designed and built the vehicles, we employ many former soldiers who commanded, crewed and maintained tanks in the field. Giving our customers an essential edge is in our DNA and no-one else can claim our experience and track record in equipping British soldiers.
And let’s not forget what a cracking tank Challenger 2 is. It is regarded as one of the best protected tanks in the world with details of its armour remaining classified to this day. It is also one of the few current Main Battle Tanks to be extensively combat-proven, having seen service in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq without a single tank being lost to enemy action. Its predecessor Challenger 1 – which used the same 120mm rifled gun – still has the longest range tank-on-tank engagement on record at a distance of approximately 5,000m. This is a seriously powerful tank that we will make even better.
With the commitment, expertise and passion from all members of Team Challenger 2 and our supporting functions and staff, the solution we offer to the British Army will be the optimal balance of firepower, mobility and protection within the MOD’s budget. And with our knowledge of the vehicle, we will deliver on time, to budget and in a package that will delight both tank crews and maintainers.
Simon Jackson is Campaign Leader for the Challenger® 2 Life Extension Project at BAE Systems and a former tank commander in the British Army. In a previous role with the UK Ministry of Defence he was also responsible for Acceptance Testing of Challenger 2 before it entered service.
Team Challenger 2 is a group of defence companies working together to deliver the best possible solution for the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project. Led by BAE Systems, it includes: General Dynamics Land Systems-United Kingdom; QinetiQ; Leonardo; Safran; Moog and General Dynamics Mission Systems.