MOD Awards £46M to Start Challenger 2 Tank Life Extension Project Competition
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Dec 22, 2016)
A British Army Challenger 2 Theatre Entry Standard (CR2 TES) main battle tanks fitted with a Mobile Camouflage System (MCS). The MoD has asked two companies to prepare the vehicle’s service life extension program. (MoD photo)
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has awarded new contracts to BAE Systems and Rheinmetall Land Systeme GmbH to progress the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project.

The agreements, worth £23 million each, signal the start of the competitive Assessment Phase. We are building the most adaptive force to meet the threats of the future and this phase will enable the companies to develop innovative upgrades which will keep the formidable Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, crucial for the delivery of a modern ground manoeuvre warfighting capability as part of Joint Force 2025, in service with the British Army until 2035.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

“Modernising the British Army’s Main Battle Tank under the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project involves partnerships across Defence exploring innovative solutions.

“Backed by a rising Defence budget and a £178 billion equipment plan, these tanks, just like the brand new Ajax armoured vehicle, are crucial to the British Army.”

Challenger 2 has been in service since 1998 and has proven its worth in combat time and again; most notably during operations in Iraq in the 2000s.

Recent developments in electronics, computing and sight optics mean upgrades to several of the tank’s components are now possible.

The total value of the Challenger 2 Assessment Phase is £53 million. This includes both £23 million Assessment Phase contracts and a further £7 million to cover additional work.

The MOD’s investment will allow BAE Systems and Rheinmetall to undertake technical studies, produce detailed digital models and consider how upgrades will be integrated onto the current platform.

At the end of the Assessment Phase the companies will present their solutions to the MOD for consideration. The Demonstration and Manufacture Phases of the project will follow.

Chief of Materiel (Land) for Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), Lieutenant General Paul Jaques, said:

“Challenger 2 is an excellent Main Battle Tank with an impressive operational track record.

“The Challenger 2 Life Extension Project will upgrade the vehicle with the latest technology to make it available for operations out to 2035.”

Challenger 2 has a crew of four and carries a 120 millimetre main gun and two 7.62 millimetre machine guns, with a top speed of around 59 kilometres per hour.

It is currently in service with the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment.

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Rheinmetall Awarded Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme Assessment Phase Contract
(Source: Rheinmetall AG; issued Dec 23, 2016)
Rheinmetall has been awarded a Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (CR2 LEP) Assessment Phase contract by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence.

The British Army is seeking to extend the service life of the Challenger 2 main battle tank through to 2035. During the Assessment Phase, Rheinmetall will develop solutions in line with user requirements set by the MOD. The programme includes addressing existing obsolescence issues, with Rheinmetall offering options that will sustain the capability and effectiveness of the Challenger 2. The Assessment Phase contract is worth £23 million.

At the end of the Assessment Phase Rheinmetall will make an offer for the Demonstration, Manufacture and In Service contract phases. If successful, under current planning, this contract would see Rheinmetall becoming the Design Authority for the Challenger 2 and cover the modification of Challenger 2 tanks to Mk 2 standard.

Rheinmetall is currently involved in upgrading the technical and tactical performance of the Leopard 2 main battle tank for two major international customers and offers a wide array of cutting-edge systems. Continuous investment in research and development keep Rheinmetall at the forefront of modern tank technology, which the company plans to share with the British Army.

With its experience and technological wherewithal to take the lead in every aspect of the CR2 LEP, Rheinmetall is ideally placed to cover all the current lines of development, including assured long-term logistical support, which will maintain Britain’s longstanding expertise in tank development and design.

A key aspect of the Rheinmetall offer is to involve UK suppliers in the Assessment Phase, with a Rheinmetall systems engineering team based in the UK to support CR2 LEP and other programmes.

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BAE Systems’ Team Challenger 2 Awarded Assessment Phase for Life Extension Project
(Source: BAE Systems; issued Dec 22, 2016)
Team Challenger 2, a consortium of companies led by BAE Systems, has signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) for the Challenger 2 Life Extension Project (LEP) Assessment Phase.

During the Assessment Phase, Team Challenger 2 will work with the MOD to develop options for which systems should be replaced and how the work package would be delivered. Team Challenger 2’s work will be led from BAE Systems’ facility in Telford, Shropshire, with partners from around the UK and globally.

Jennifer Osbaldestin, BAE Systems Land (UK) Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to win this contract. Our proposal offers the British Army major capability and performance enhancements designed specifically for its soldiers’ needs. Ours is an innovative, low-risk solution that future-proofs Challenger 2, giving it the performance to command the battlefield through to 2035.

“Our partners bring the best and most advanced capabilities and technologies available to every element of the Life Extension Project. This includes new sighting systems, gun control equipment, an enhanced electronic architecture and commonality with the British Army’s new AJAX vehicle, all while developing the UK’s next generation of specialist tank engineers.”

BAE Systems Land (UK) has brought together the most experienced defence partners from across the globe to form a UK based team. Team Challenger 2 consists of BAE Systems Land (UK), General Dynamics Land Systems-UK, Leonardo, Safran Electronics & Defense, Moog, QinetiQ and General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada. The partners are all world leading experts on tank sub-systems, with General Dynamics Land Systems-UK enabling significant commonality between Challenger 2 Mark 2 and AJAX, the British Army’s new armoured vehicle family. The team will work closely with Babcock-DSG during the Assessment Phase.

Vice President of General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, Kevin Connell, added: “This is great news for our facility in Merthyr Tydfil, where we carry out the assembly, integration and testing of AJAX. Challenger 2 would be brought up to the Mark 2 specification at that same facility, optimising investment already made and enabling Team Challenger 2 to hit the ground running.”

Team Challenger 2 has been working for several months on the Assessment Phase prior to contract award and has invested significantly in the Assessment Phase to ensure the very best solution for the British Army.

BAE Systems designed and built Challenger 2 and has supported the tank since its entry into service, including many Urgent Operational Upgrades for operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. General Dynamics Land Systems-UK is currently developing the AJAX family of vehicles which will be delivered to the British Army through 2017-2024.

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