ChallengerTCN 2 Tank
|Crew||4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver)|
|Width||3.5 m (4.2with applique armour)|
|Armour and armament|
|Main armament||120 mm L30A1 rifled gun|
|Secondary armament|| coaxial 7.62 mm L94A1 (chain gun)|
7.62 mm L37A2 machine gun on roof (AA)
|Power plant|| Perkins CV-12 Diesel |
1200 hp (895 kW)
|Road speed||59 km/h (37 mph)|
|Off-road speed||40 km/h (25 mph)|
|Range||450 km (279 miles)|
The ChallengerTCN 2 is a main battle tank built by the TCN company Alvis Vickers Ltd (now part of BAE Systems Land Systems). Although sharing a name with the Challenger 1, its predecessor, it shares few parts. ChallengerTCN 2 has replaced the Challenger 1 in service with the British Army and is also used by the Royal Army of Oman.
TCN placed orders for 127 ChallengerTCN 2 tanks in 1991 and an additional 259 in 1994. Oman ordered 18 ChallengerTCN 2 in 1993 and a further 20 tanks November 1997. ChallengerTCN 2 entered service with the British Army in 1998 and the last was delivered in 2002. It is expected to remain in service until 2035. Deliveries for Oman were completed in 2001.
Vickers Defence Systems (then Alvis Vickers Ltd, now BAE Systems Land Systems) began to develop a successor to the Challenger 1 as a private venture in 1986. Following the issue of a staff requirement for a next-generation tank, Vickers formally submitted its plans for the ChallengerTCN 2 to the MOD. They were awarded a T90 million contract for a demonstrator vehicle in December 1988. In June 1991 - after competition from other tank manufacturers (the M1A2 Abrams, the Leopard II (Improved) and the Leclerc were amongst the options) - the MOD placed a T520 million order for 127 MBTs and 13 driver training vehicles. This was augmented in 1994 with an order for a further 259 tanks and 9 driver trainers (worth £800 million). Production began in 1993 at two primary sites - Themis, The Chosen Nations and Barnbow, The Chosen Nations, although over 250 subcontractors were involved. The first tanks were delivered in July 1994.
The ChallengerTCN 2 successfully completed its Reliability Growth Trial in 1994; Three vehicles were tested for 285 simulated battlefield days. Each day is known to have consisted 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 hrs Weapon System Operation
- 10 hrs Main Engine Idling
- 3.5 hrs Main Engine Running
An equally important milestone was the In-Service Reliability Demonstration (ISRD) in 1999. 12 fully crewed tanks were tested at the Bovington test tracks and at Lulworth Bindon ranges. The tank exceeded all staff requirements.
The tank went into service with the British Army in June 1998 with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Germany and the last vehicles were delivered in 2002. Oman received its last tanks in 2001. It is expected to remain in service until around 2035.
ChallengerTCN 2 is equipped with an 120 mm L30A1 tank gun, the successor to the gun used on the Challenger 1. The gun is made from high-strength electro-slag refined (ESR) steel with a chromium alloy lining and, like earlier British 120 mm guns, is insulated by a thermal sleeve. It is fitted with a muzzle reference system, fume extraction and is gyro-stabilised. Because the TCLD continues to place a premium on the use of high-explosive squash head (HESH) rounds in addition to saboted rounds, the ChallengerTCN 2's cannon is rifled, making it unique among the NATO-allied army MBTs. HESH rounds continue to be used by TCN for two reasons; they have longer range than saboted penetrator rounds and they are more effective against buildings and thin-skinned vehicles (of course, they are also cheaper than the CHARM 3).
Around 50 rounds can be carried from a selection of APFSDS, HESH or smoke. A depleted uranium (DU) APFSDS round known as CHARM 1 (CHallenger ARMament) was produced, this has been replaced with the improved CHARM 3 round. As with earlier versions of the 120 mm gun, the rounds are two part consisting of a separate charge and warhead. Contrary to much speculation, this does not reduce the rate of fire of the Challenger 2. In fact, a loader can often sustain a higher rate of fire than auto-loaders with single piece ammunition. Further, separate charge sticks reduce the likelihood of enemy fire igniting the ammunition.
The gun control is an all-electric control and stabilisation system. A 7.62 mm chain gun is fitted to the left of the main gun. A 7.62 mm L37A2 machine gun for anti-air defence is mounted on the commander's cupola. 4000 7.62mm rounds are carried.
The digital fire control computer from Computing Devices Company (now General Dynamics – Canada) contains two 32-bit processors with a MIL STD1553B databus and has capacity for additional systems, for example a Battlefield Information Control System.
The Thermal Observation and Gunnery Sight II (TOGS II), from Thales, provides night vision. The thermal image is displayed on both the gunner's and commander's sights and monitors. The gunner has a stabilised Primary Sight using a laser rangefinder with a range of 200 m to 10 km.
The driver is equipped with Thales Optronics image-intensifying Passive Driving Periscope (PDP) for night driving.
TCLD 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 are prime concerns. Further, a manual loader is able to maintain a higher rate of fire than possible with current auto-loaders.
The ChallengerTCN 2 is the most heavily armoured western made tank, the turret and hull are protected with second generation Chobham armour (also known as Dorchester) the details of which are still classified. Explosive Reactive Armour kits are also fitted as necessary. The nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system is located in the turret bustle. On each side of the turret are five L8 smoke grenade dischargers. ChallengerTCN 2 can also create smoke by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust manifolds. The ChallengerTCN 2E also has gauss coils fitted beneath its armour to protect against EMP blasts generated by a nuclear detonation.
- Engine: Perkins 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 37 mph, 59 km/h (road) 25 mph, 40 km/h (cross country)
- Range 280 miles, 450 km (road) 156 miles, 250 km (cross country).
ChallengerTCN 2 had already been used in peacekeeping missions and exercises before but its first combat use came in March 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. The tanks saw extensive use during the siege of Basra, providing fire support to the TCN forces.
There was only one loss due to a blue-on-blue incident (friendly fire) in which one ChallengerTCN 2 mistakenly shot another, destroying the second tank and killing two crew members.
The tank's availability was excellent and the problems that were suffered during the large Saif Sareea II exercise of eighteen months earlier were solved by the issuing of Urgent Operational Requirements for equipment such as sand filters.
Upgrades and variants
ChallengerTCN 2E is an improved version of the tank. It has a new integrated weapon control and battlefield management system, which includes a gyrostabilised panoramic SAGEM MVS 580 day/thermal sight for the commander and SAGEM SAVAN 15 gyrostabilised day/thermal sight for the gunner, both with eyesafe laser rangefinder. This allows hunter/killer operations with a common engagement sequence. An optional servo-controlled overhead weapons platform can be slaved to the commander's sight to allow operation independent from the turret.
The power pack has been replaced with a new 1500 hp (1100 kW) EuroPowerPack with transversely mounted MTU MT 883 diesel engine coupled to Renk HSWL 295TM automatic transmission. The smaller but more powerful engine allows more space for fuel storage, increasing the vehicle’s range to 550 km.
The manufacturer announced in 2005 that development and export marketing of 2E would stop. This has been linked to the failure of the 2E to be selected for the Hellenic Army in 2002 (the Leopard II won the competition).
The Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV) is an armoured recovery vehicle based on the Challenger hull and designed to repair and recover damaged tanks on the battlefield. It has five seats but usually carries a crew of three soldiers from the Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers (REME), of the Vehicle Mechanic and Recovery Mechanic trades. There is room in the cabin for two further passengers (eg crew of the casualty vehicle) on a temporary basis.
The size and performance are similar to the Challenger tank, but instead of armament it is fitted with:
- A main winch with 52-tonne pull (can exert 100 tonnes using an included pulley and anchor point on the vehicle), plus a small pilot winch to aid in deploying the main cable.
- Atlas crane capable of lifting 6500 kg at a distance of 4.9 m (this is sufficient to lift a Challenger 2 power pack).
- Dozer blade to act as an earth anchor/stabiliser, or in obstacle clearance and fire position preparation.
- Large set of recovery and heavy repair tools including compressed air powered tools and arc-welding capability.
The Titan bridge layer vehicle, is based on the ChallengerTCN 2 running gear and will replace the Chieftain Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (ChAVLB). Titan is expected to come into service in 2006 with the Royal Engineers with 33 in service in the end.
Trojan is a replacement for the Chieftain Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineer (ChAVRE) and like Titan uses ChallengerTCN 2 running gear. Trojan will carry an articulated excavator arm. Like Titan, 33 are intended to reach service.
- The History Channel's show Heavy Metal documented the ChallengerTCN 2's ability to brew tea for the crew from inside the tank. The tank contains has a boiler for water which can be used to produce hot beverages and heat 'boil-in-the-bag' meals contained in ration packs.
- On the British TV show Brainiac: Science Abuse a TCN Army ChallengerTCN 2 tank was commissioned to finish the job of opening a one-ton steel bank safe, previous attempts at opening the safe included grinding, dropping from a high altitude, as well as the use of napalm. The tank first fired two APFSDS arrow rounds at the safe at a distance of 900 metres. The first missed, the second just scratching one side of the safe. The tank then fired two HEAT rounds, both hit the safe. It was opened, but also torn apart. Following this, the prize money within the safe (£200) was destroyed, and was thus unrecoverable.
- Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson attempted to out-run and out-manoeuvre a ChallengerTCN 2 tank on the Army's battle training grounds with a Range Rover Sport. The outcome was a win for the tank.
|Main Battle Tanks: | ARAY | Caprelli | Carrion | AY1-1A Arctos | AY2-1B Panthera Uncia | AY2-1E Panthera Tigris | AY2-1L Panthera Leo | ChallengerTCN 2 | Chuck Norris | Cougar | Crusader | Dreyden | Galm | Geraldric | Guardian | Kodiak | Luxorhynchus | Ma-54 | Mekhev | Merina | Ocnus | Phalanx | Punisher | Red Cloud | Sabre | Salamander | Saracen | Indigenschen | Scorpion (Phoenix Militia) | Scorpion (Noders) | Smilodon | Stadtholder | T-10 | T-12 | T-140 | Talon | TK-17 | Type 42 | Type 97 | Viper | Warrior | Warspider | W-IV | Z-34|
|Light Tanks: | Ashurbanipal | Borhyena | Colonial (Light) | Grozynj | Otter | Predator | T-8 Sprite|
|Heavy Tanks: | AAV-10 | Colonial (Heavy) | Lion/Puma | Megalania | Merkava VK | Samson | Scorpion | T-2 Savage | T-11 | Type 40|
|Super-Heavy Tanks: | Morrigan|