The Challenger 2 (FV-4034) main battle tank (MBT) is a vehicle which has been in the British Army since 1994. Vickers (Now BAE Systems) started developing the tank in 1989, where three stages of development was for a contractual agreement to the British government at the time for £90 million. These three “targets” or assessments were met by the end of 1989, March 1990 and September 1990. The Challenger 2 has been used in a variety of countries such as Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo.
In 1991 the UK Ministry of Defence placed an order for £520 million for 127 Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBT) among spare parts and repair vehicles based on the chassis of the Challenger 2 which is notably based on the chassis of the Challenger 1. Another huge order in 1994 was paid for a further 254 main battle tanks (MBT) at a cost of £800 million. The tank is fitted with the latest variant of the Dorchester armour a derivative of Chobham armour, older versions of this armour has been on earlier Challenger 1 tanks.
The Challenger 2 has been into combat and most notably the Iraq War of 2003 (Op. Telic) While in Iraq on the 25th of March 2003, for the first time a Challenger 2 was destroyed in a blue-on-blue incident, where another Challenger 2 had hit another which fired a HESH round, which hit the turrets hatch, which then sent hot metals into the stowed ammunition which generated an explosion.
There have also been other incidents where an RPG-29 managed to penetrate the front-hull of a Challenger 2 protected by ERA and another incident where an IED penetrated and the driver lost both legs. Because of this an upgrade was warranted called Theatre Entry Standard (TES) which looked at these vulnerabilities and compensated for them with armour and weapons upgrades. In spite of all this, the Challenger 2 has a good service record with only one tank loss and reports came out stating that a Challenger 2 had been hit 70 times by an RPG and other munitions like the Milan anti-tank missile. The Challenger 2 is however not only in use by the United Kingdom, it is also used by Oman who operate 48 of these main battle tanks (MBT).
The main armament on this tank is the 120 mm (L30A1) rifled barrel tank gun, which has the longest tank kill of an enemy tank ever in the history of tank warfare of 5,100 meters of ground between the barrel and the enemy tank. The tank can carry 52 rounds of 120 mm ammunition which the tank can fire:
- High Explosive Squash Head (HESH)
- Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS)
However it is the Challenger 1 to which this tank gun (L30 120 mm) is credited for having the longest range tank kill. The turret takes a full 9 seconds to do a 360º turn, which makes this tank able to fire at different targets within seconds. Furthermore the turret is all electrically powered and has an electrically powered stabilization system which allows for the tank to accurately shoot at targets while on the move. The tank is also armed with a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun (MG) and also a cupola mounted 7.62 mm machine gun for the commander of the vehicle. On each side of the Challenger 2’s turrets consists of 5 (L8) smoke grenade dischargers.
The Challenger 2 is also nuclear, biologically and chemically (NBC) protected in the event it requires this protection. ERA panels can also be fitted to the sides of the Challenger 2 tank in the event it requires this additional protection. The vehicle is also powered by a 26.1 litre Perkins diesel CV12 engine giving a power output of 1,200 hp; giving a power to weight ratio of 19.2 hp/t.