United Kingdom

Army's new Challenger 3 tank will outgun anything in Putin's ranks, says Defence Secretary

The Army's new 'world beating' Challenger 3 tank will outgun anything in Putin's ranks, the Defence Secretary has said as he announced an £800million upgrade for Britain's armoured forces.

The lucrative contract will see the military equipped with 148 of the 'most lethal' main battle tanks in Europe, complete with faster-travelling ammunition and unrivalled tracking systems, Ben Wallace said yesterday.

The fleet of fully-digitised Challenger 3 tanks will be produced at the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) plant at Telford in Shropshire and will replace the existing Challenger 2 vehicles which have been in service since 1998.

Mr Wallace insisted it was pointless to have tanks that could be outgunned by enemy forces, given such a possibility would put soldiers' lives at risk.

The lucrative contract will see the military equipped with 148 of the 'most lethal' main battle tanks in Europe (pictured), complete with faster-travelling ammunition and unrivalled tracking systems, Ben Wallace said yesterday

Ben Wallace is pictured with staff from Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land in front of a Challenger 3 main battle tank on Thursday

At an event to show off the new kit, he told the Times: 'Why this is better than the Russian's is this thing here. This gun.

'The smoothbore gun and its lethality plus its ability to force-multiply by being able to talk to everyone else on the battlefield.'

The new vehicles, described by the MoD as the 'most lethal tank in Europe', will be able to travel at up to 60mph and feature upgraded suspension to improve accuracy while firing on the move.

They will be fitted with an automatic target detection and tracking system to identify enemies, along with new thermal long-range cameras.

Other features include screens which can show the position of enemy forces and battlefield pictures, which can then be sent via radio to other weapons systems.

They will replace the existing Challenger 2 (pictured) vehicles which have been in service since 1998

The British Army is expected to receive the first tanks by 2027 and the full fleet by 2030 which will replace the Challenger 2 (pictured)

This will also come up as an image on the screens of other colleagues in the field, whether that's UK armed forces or members of Nato offering support.

The new turret with the 120mm smoothbore gun referenced by Mr Wallace, will programme high-velocity ammunition to travel at quicker speeds and a greater range.

Some 200 jobs, made up of 130 engineers and 70 technicians, will be created at the Telford site, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

A further 450 roles will be established as part of the wider supply chain across the West Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Isle of Wight.

It comes as the Government announced in March a third of the army's 227 Challenger tanks would be scrapped as part of a major military overhaul.

Mr Wallace (pictured) insisted it was pointless to have tanks that could be outgunned by enemy forces, given such a possibility would put soldiers' lives at risk

As part of the defence review announced earlier this year, the army's size will be reduced to 72,500 soldiers by 2025 as the focus shifts to drones and cyber warfare. Pictured: A Challenger 2 tank

Mr Wallace added: 'This represents a huge shift in the modernisation of our land forces through the increased lethality of Challenger 3.

'This pioneering new technology allows us to deliver immense warfighting capabilities in battlespaces filled with a range of enemy threats.

'The £800 million investment will also create hundreds of highly-skilled jobs across the country ensuring our soldiers benefit from the very best of British engineering.'

The army is expected to receive the first tanks by 2027 and the full fleet by 2030.

As part of the defence review announced earlier this year, the army's size will be reduced to 72,500 soldiers by 2025 as the focus shifts to drones and cyber warfare.

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