The Challenger 2
Britain's Royal Armoured Corp's Challenger 2 Tank...
The Challenger 2 (CR2 FV4034) is the Britain’s Royal Armoured Corps main battle tank. It is the successor to the Challenger 1 that served in both the Gulf War and the Balkans. While the hull and automotive parts of the CR2 remain the same as its processors’, over 150 major modifications have been made, including a new turret, a new main gun and second-gen Chobham armor.
The CR2 is a four-man vehicle and has a combat weight of 62.5 tonnes. It’s top speed on the road is 56 km/h with a range of 450km, or 250km cross country.
The Challenger 2 was developed in a private venture by Vickers Defence Systems in 1986. Two years later, the Ministry of Defence awarded the company a £90 million contract to produce a demonstrator vehicle. In 1991, the CR2 competed against the M1A2 Abrams, the Leopard 2, and the Leclerc tanks to win the MoDs’ £520 million order for 127 MBTs and 13 driver training vehicles. The first tanks were delivered in July 1994 with the first entering service, with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Germany, in 1998.
The Challenger 2 proudly completed it Reliability Growth Trial in 1994, it met and surpassed all the requirements issued by the MoD. The vehicle was tested for 285 simulated battlefield days, each day consisting of:
- 27 km of On-road Travel
- 33 km of Off-road Travel
- 34 Main Armament Rounds fired
- 1,000 7.62 MG rounds fired
- 16 h Weapon System Operation
- 10 h Main Engine Idling
- 3.5 h Main Engine Running
Challenger 2 was originally equipped with a 120mm L30A1 CHARM gun. This 120mm (4.724 inch) 55 caliber long tank gun is made from high strength electro-slag refining (ESR) steel with a chromium alloy lining, insulated by a thermal sleeve.
In 2006, the Rheinmetall 120mm L55 began testing stages as the new main gun of the Challenger 2. The L55 fits into the space previously occupied by the L30, it also retains the L30’s rifled gun’s cradle, gun clamp, thermal sleeve, fume extractor and muzzle reference system.
Forty-nine armament rounds are carried in the turret bustle; these are a mix of L27A1 APFSDS (CHARM 3), L31 HESH and L34 white phosphorus smoke rounds.
The main gun is fitted with muzzle reference system, fume extractor and is controlled by an all-electric control and stabilization system. The turret has a rotation time of 9 seconds through 360 degrees.
Secondary armament consist of the McDonnell Douglas L94A1 EX-34 7.62mm chain gun which is fitted to the left on the main gun. A second 7.62 mm L37A2 anti-aircraft machine gun is mounter in the of the loaders hatch. The CR2 carries a total of 4,200 rounds of 7.62 ammunition.
Fire Control and sights
Firing system is controlled by a ‘digital fire control computer; developed by Computing Devices Co of Canada. The computer consists of two 32-bit processors and has the capacity to incorporate additional systems like the Battlefield Information Control System.
The commander has a panoramic SAGEM VS 580-10 gyro-stabilized sight with laser rangefinder and thermal imager. The commander’s station is equipped with eight periscopes for 360° vision.
In the driver’s position there is a Thales Optronics image-intensifying Passive Driving Periscope (PDP) complete with image-intensifying day and night modes. Challenger 2’s Thermal Observation and Gunnery (TOGS) also provides night vision which is displayed on both the gunner’s and commander’s sights and monitors.
The gunner is equipped with a gyro-stabilized primary sight with a laser range finder and coaxially mounted auxiliary sight providing a a range of 200m to 10km.
Challenger 2 is one of the most heavily armored and best protected tanks in the world. The turret and hull are protected with second generation Chobham armor, also known as Dorchester armor, but exact specifications are still classified.
Chobham armor consists of ceramic tiles in cased in a metal matrix, that is bonded to a backing plate and several other layers with elastic properties. Chobham armor has been developed to offer superior resistance against shaped charges like anti-tank HEAT rounds.
The Challenger 2 is also fitted with Explosive Reactive armor. ERA comprises of a highly explosive material, sandwiched between two metal plates. When the ERA is struck by incoming fire, the explosive within the metal plates detonates to counteract the force of the projectile.
The CR2 also sports a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system which is capable of dealing with all known threats. On each side of the turret there are five L8 smoke grenade dischargers. Challenger 2 can also create smoke by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust manifolds.
- Engine: Perkins 26.1 liter CV12 diesel engine delivering 1,200 hp (895 kW)
- Gearbox: David Brown TN54 epicyclical transmission (6 fwd, 2 rev)
- Suspension: Second-generation Hydrogas
- Track: William Cook Defence Hydraulically Adjustable double-pin
- Maximum speed: 45 mph, 75 km/h (road) 25 mph, 40 km/h (cross country)
- Range: 280 miles, 450 km (road) 156 miles, 250 km (cross country)
The Challenger two has seen operational service in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq (2003–present). During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the CR2 was the only tank in the Gulf that did not suffer a loss to enemy fire.
The CR2 is as tough as they come, in one encounter, a Challenger was reported to have taken multiple hits from rocket propelled grenades and one direct hit from a MILAN anti tank missile, without suffering loss.
The Royal Armoured Corps Challenger 2 Specifications
Length:11.55 m (gun forward)
Height to turret roof: 2.49 m
Combat weight: 62,500 kg
Main armament 120 mm L30 CHARM (Challenger main Armament) Gun
Ammunition 50 rounds – APFSDS, HESH, Soke (Typical)
Secondary armament C-axial 7.62 mm chain gun, 7.62 mm GPMG (turret mounted)
Ammunition 4,000 rounds 7.62 mm
Engine 1,200 bhp Perkins-Condor CV12
Maximum speed 59 kph
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