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Challenger 2 LEP contract signed - Challenger 3


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Not sure if this good or bad? We have too few Challenger 2s to really make this worthwhile? You are looking at fitting new turrets to older hulls? Be interesting to see if this includes 130mm smoothbore?

Edited by Whitewolf
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From what I remember the Rheinmetal bid included a 120mm smoothbore gun so it should be able to use NATO standard ammunition.

Beyond that the press release suggested it was mostly control and sensor upgrades which are important for the blokes using them but not especially exciting for the rest of us.

 

This is the only thing I could find:

https://www.edrmagazine.eu/rbsl-unveils-comprehensive-challenger-2-modernisation

 

 

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Only sensible option really! All R&D done and ready to go providing MOD don’t sod about with the spec and add extra cost to it as usual!

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I hope they see sense and replace it down the line with the planned Franco-German Leopard 3 or whatever they end up calling it. And buy it off-the-shelf., rather than spending a fortune tinkering with it and making it "British".  Given the small numbers we'll probably buy we need something with commonality with our allies.

 

Perhaps we could paint it a different colour. and fit a kettle, But that's it.

 

Stuart

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18 minutes ago, Stuart Wilson said:

I hope they see sense and replace it down the line with the planned Franco-German Leopard 3 or whatever they end up calling it. And buy it off-the-shelf., rather than spending a fortune tinkering with it and making it "British".  Given the small numbers we'll probably buy we need something with commonality with our allies.

 

Perhaps we could paint it a different colour. and fit a kettle, But that's it.

 

Stuart

Already looking it seems,

https://www.army-technology.com/features/uk-eyes-franco-german-mgcs-future-tank-programme/

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39 minutes ago, Stuart Wilson said:

I hope they see sense and replace it down the line with the planned Franco-German Leopard 3 or whatever they end up calling it. And buy it off-the-shelf., rather than spending a fortune tinkering with it and making it "British".  Given the small numbers we'll probably buy we need something with commonality with our allies.

 

Perhaps we could paint it a different colour. and fit a kettle, But that's it.

 

Stuart

Its got a kettle already (BV, Boiling Vessel, a tank crew's lifesaver, trust me)

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5 hours ago, OutcastJoel said:

From what I remember the Rheinmetal bid included a 120mm smoothbore gun so it should be able to use NATO standard ammunition.

Beyond that the press release suggested it was mostly control and sensor upgrades which are important for the blokes using them but not especially exciting for the rest of us.

 

This is the only thing I could find:

https://www.edrmagazine.eu/rbsl-unveils-comprehensive-challenger-2-modernisation

 

 

 

5 hours ago, OutcastJoel said:

From what I remember the Rheinmetal bid included a 120mm smoothbore gun so it should be able to use NATO standard ammunition.

Beyond that the press release suggested it was mostly control and sensor upgrades which are important for the blokes using them but not especially exciting for the rest of us.

 

This is the only thing I could find:

https://www.edrmagazine.eu/rbsl-unveils-comprehensive-challenger-2-modernisation

 

 

150 is a ridiculously small number, and if we are going there it really needs the 130mm smoothbore which genuinely gives a great advantage over potential enemies from the word go.

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I bet MOD are hopping mad about that.  I was told this afternoon - evidently several hours after the contract signing - to expect a big announcement on Monday.  Also apparently officially announcing other things such as the rumoured cancellation of the WR upgrade.

 

130mm will only happen if NATO decides that it will.  Which will impose a significant cost burden on all the member states regardless of the alleged improvement in lethality.  However, the new gun and ammunition has been designed to be as interchangeable as possible with the 120mm with minimal changes in order to make it more attractive and eaasier to implement.  It also opens up the possibility of retaining 120mm tanks for training to use up the ammunition stockpiles, as was done with the 105mm Light Gun with a barrel chambered for the Pack Howitzer ammunition.  If the crew drills are the same and the fire control system does all the calculations with a 120-130 switch-over then that is perfectly viable.

 

But from a UK cost perspective it would be cheaper to implement 130 now rather than to change later.  I can imagine that conversation with the Treasury...........  But AFAIK the 130 is not yet production or service-ready and with very limited ammunition manufacture capacity.  However, we took a similar immaturity risk with the 40mm CTAS for Ajax.  When that decision was taken only 4 guns had been made, all different - and one hadn't even been assembled.  And only about 30,000 rds of experimental ammunition of several build standards.  But here we are 13 years later and it's only just coming into service.  Not all of that time lag attributable to the gun, of course.  Turret integration in general has been difficult.

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2 hours ago, Whitewolf said:

 

150 is a ridiculously small number, and if we are going there it really needs the 130mm smoothbore which genuinely gives a great advantage over potential enemies from the word go.

Nope. Why swap one technical orphan (120mm rifled) for another (130mm smoothbore)?

 

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9 hours ago, GMK said:

Nope. Why swap one technical orphan (120mm rifled) for another (130mm smoothbore)?

 

The Russians realised that an increased calibre would give an edge on the battlefield and went for a 125mm on the Armata, tests on the 130mm show increased penetration power through multiple layers of armour. If you are going out with a small number of MBTs, they  need to have something the enemy doesn't.....

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3 hours ago, Whitewolf said:

The Russians realised that an increased calibre would give an edge on the battlefield and went for a 125mm on the Armata, tests on the 130mm show increased penetration power through multiple layers of armour. If you are going out with a small number of MBTs, they  need to have something the enemy doesn't.....


But not at the expense of having something that no other ally has. 120mm smoothbore = commonality, interoperability, & widely available ammunition. 130mm = none of that. 
 

The CR2 LEP 120mm smoothbore turret can (allegedly) be upgraded to 130mm once the gun matures. Do what the US did with Abrams. Field it with a mature gun, with the ability to be upgunned built in at service entry. 
 

With a new turret, maybe it’s time for a name change? Firefly? Churchill?
 

 

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3 hours ago, GMK said:


But not at the expense of having something that no other ally has. 120mm smoothbore = commonality, interoperability, & widely available ammunition. 130mm = none of that. 
 

The CR2 LEP 120mm smoothbore turret can (allegedly) be upgraded to 130mm once the gun matures. Do what the US did with Abrams. Field it with a mature gun, with the ability to be upgunned built in at service entry. 
 

With a new turret, maybe it’s time for a name change? Firefly? Churchill?
 

 

I agree with the 120mm choice. Logistics wins wars. No use having the best gun on the battlefield if you can't get ammunition for it.

 

Especially with a small MBT fleet. interoperability makes sense.

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11 hours ago, GMK said:


But not at the expense of having something that no other ally has. 120mm smoothbore = commonality, interoperability, & widely available ammunition. 130mm = none of that. 
 

The CR2 LEP 120mm smoothbore turret can (allegedly) be upgraded to 130mm once the gun matures. Do what the US did with Abrams. Field it with a mature gun, with the ability to be upgunned built in at service entry. 
 

With a new turret, maybe it’s time for a name change? Firefly? Churchill?
 

 

Leopard 3

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On 3/18/2021 at 7:49 PM, Stuart Wilson said:

I hope they see sense and replace it down the line with the planned Franco-German Leopard 3 or whatever they end up calling it. And buy it off-the-shelf., rather than spending a fortune tinkering with it and making it "British".  Given the small numbers we'll probably buy we need something with commonality with our allies.

 

Perhaps we could paint it a different colour. and fit a kettle, But that's it.

 

Stuart


The French and Germans don’t have a good track record when it comes to joint defence projects! 
MBT80 is good example.The French use auto loaders if I recall but the rest of NATO doesn’t, even today despite its age CR2 still offers the best protection for its crew! So there is a fundamental view from each nation on what takes priority in what they want, can that be all rolled up in one design? Very doubtful.

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5 hours ago, ivan-o said:


The French and Germans don’t have a good track record when it comes to joint defence projects! 
MBT80 is good example.The French use auto loaders if I recall but the rest of NATO doesn’t, even today despite its age CR2 still offers the best protection for its crew! So there is a fundamental view from each nation on what takes priority in what they want, can that be all rolled up in one design? Very doubtful.

If the British army only has a small MBT force in the future, then they need to adapt to using an off-the-shelf design that can be logistically supported easily rather than some bespoke super-expensive niche design that no-one else uses. 

 

It doesn't have to be the best tank in the work. Just a good one that can be kept operational. The problem with British defence procurement over the last few decades is the insistence on having equipment designed for our relatively small forces. I suspect a lot of it is to create work for BAE. The Sampson Radar on the Type 45 destroyer is very good. But Aegis would have been cheaper and we can get spares and regular updates easily. We might have had at least eight destroyers.  The Nimrod MRA4 might have been a great aircraft. But we would have had the only nine of them in existence. How long before we were cannibalising some of them to keep the others flying? The P8A makes more sense and the USN will be paying to develop updates to it's systems, we just need to buy them.

 

Also the Leopard 3 or whatever it ends up being called will probably be in production for some time (lots of Leos 2s to replace) so we could add more tanks to our inventory later should the international situation require it. 

 

Stuart

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No augment from me Stuart, just saying that the likelihood of a tank design that serves all nations is fairly remote.

At least they are going with the Rhienmetall  turret that will save money on R&D etc and will give us the option to upgrade more hulls if required.

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If there is another high intensity land war between wealthy nations.... I suspect any large slow moving object will be toast very quickly. There will be nowhere to hide.

 

Semi autonomous fast unmanned AI systems will dominate. 

 

For actions against low-tech and non-state actors, I suspect smaller faster lighter vehicles that can be quickly deployed and with low logistical dependencies will be a better bet.

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And there you have exactly the arguments that have been going on in Bovington, Andover and Whitehall about the whole future of a heavy armoured force prior to the CR2 investment decision.  And indeed long before that.  The much-predicted cancellation of the WR upgrade means that we either carry on with an obsolete MICV or no MICV, which makes fielding a balanced armoured/mechanised force difficult.  Or we buy more Aries APCs - still not an MICV - or redesign Ajax as an MICV or develop some half-way hybrid: Aries with a cannon RWS.  But these all come with big bills.  And MIV/Boxer is not the answer.  More of those come with a big bill too.  There is £600M+ to be saved in infrastructure development by not creating a Strike Brigade concentration at Catterick.  It will certainly be interesting to see what the force laydown looks like.  I understand there will be a new semi-SF Ranger Regiment.  Where will that leave SFSG/3 Para?

 

When I posted a while ago in another thread the proposition that the Sabra 105mm-armed Ajax just sold to the the Phillipines might be the RAC's next tank I wasn't entirely tongue in cheek.  As long ago as 2008 when I left the FRES project and CR2 LEP was going nowhere (yes, we've been looking at CR2 upgrades since before 2008!) it was being said that We might end up in the situation where Scout/Ajax was the RAC's only "tank".  Sabra is essentially what FRES Medium Armour might have looked like had the concept not been dropped.

 

Culling the heavy armour has an enormous impact on the whole  force projection and sustainment infrasture in all 3 domains.  Keeping it likewise, especially as the Navy starts to look at future sealift capability with Ocean paid off and Albion and Bulwark reaching the end of their lives - even though only 1 has ever been in commission with the other at 6 months' notice.  The 3 RFA Bay Class LPDs are 20+ years old and quite hard-worked (why on earth did we sell the 4th?).  The PFI Ro-Ros are getting old and the deal is heading towards its end, and 2 of the original 6 were paid off and sold.  And the LCUs that both LPD types operate. Any successors to these will now certainly need to be designed to take 80t MBTs. And in the land domain it means new and more weight-capable  HET-class tank tranporters as the HET PFI deal comes towards its end.  Buying into the US HET successor via FMS has been mooted for the 30-odd we can actually operate, assuming it isn't proposed to re-activate a 2nd RLC HET Squadron.  The current PFI is coining it in on the 50-odd HETs parked up at £400 a day.

 

And we're now apparently looking at much increased force projection to the Indo-Pacific region. Will we be looking to establish a land forces base in the region?

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∆ I thought we gave that up after 1956!

 

Time to stop pretending to be exceptional.  Our best hope is cooperation and collaboration with our neighbours and develop the technologies to be ready for the next war, not the previous wars.

 

The Challenger should be the last manned tank and the F35 the last manned combat fighter.

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1 hour ago, alanbeeb said:

Our best hope is cooperation and collaboration with our neighbours and develop the technologies to be ready for the next war, not the previous wars.

 

The Challenger should be the last manned tank and the F35 the last manned combat fighter.

There's two very big problems with that approach though. The first is - what are the technologies for the next war? Historically, the nations that have often had the 'latest' technologies that all the cool kids will be using in the next war have not necessarily been the ones to actually win that war! And the second - even if it were possible to agree on what the technology for the next war will be (and that's a big if), can you ever get all your neighbours not only to agree on it, but to agree to share the work on it with you? It's all very well saying how much cheaper everything would be if we put all development in the hands of the Germans or the French, but we have had a fair few wars with them over the years, and we'd be in a rather uncomfortable situation if we ended up on the opposite side of a conflict to the people who were not only building our weapons, but were the only people on the continent left who knew how to build them...

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5 hours ago, alanbeeb said:

If there is another high intensity land war between wealthy nations.... I suspect any large slow moving object will be toast very quickly. There will be nowhere to hide.

 

Semi autonomous fast unmanned AI systems will dominate. 

 

For actions against low-tech and non-state actors, I suspect smaller faster lighter vehicles that can be quickly deployed and with low logistical dependencies will be a better bet.

Not necessarily, if advancements in active camouflage and battlefield countermeasures deliver additional capabilities in parallel. ROV's (including vehicles that can be both manned or remotely operated as required) will definitely become more dominant with advancements in 'limited' AI taking on a greater load from and increasing the range of support to operators and commanders alike until countermeasures are developed to overcome these. If you're talking 'human equivalent' AI - which would require the replication of multi-spectrum sensive characteristics that haven't even been mapped in their original state yet (understanding even at a neural level is still immature), yet alone replicated in a manner that could be employed in an avatar (such as an armed vehicle) that could think as creatively and with as much inventiveness as a human counterpart - if that pops out of a lab we're all toast.

 

And besides, why waste billions on a tin terminator to stop a tank when a well disguised hole in the ground might do just as well.

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  • GMK changed the title to Challenger 2 LEP contract signed - Challenger 3

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