Armor: November 30, 2001


: Vickers Defence should complete the first production-standard prototype of the new Challenger-2E tank by the fall of 2002. Vickers says that the technology included, and growth potential, make the Challenger-2E "a step ahead" of all other main battle tanks in production. A prototype of this new tank was completed in 1995 (converted from a British Army Challenger-2) and had been demonstrated to many potential export customers (none of whom bought it). Improvements include:

@ power: The 2E uses the EuroPowerPack engine, consisting of a German MTU-883 V-12 diesel developing 1500hp (with the potential to reach 1800hp), and a transverse-mounted Renk HSWL 295 transmission. This power pack is actually smaller than the 1200hp engine in the Challenger-2, allowing for a larger fuel tank which increases operating range to 550km.

@ mobility: Challenger-2E has second-generation hydrogas suspension, improved hydraulic track tensioning (operated by the driver), double-pin track, rubber track pads, and rubber-covered idlers. Challenger-2E can ford streams 2m deep while Challenger-2 could only ford 1.07m of water. The driver has redesigned controls including electronic screens to monitor the engine.

@ lethality: Challenger-2E has improved fire controls compared to the Challenger-2 (although both have the same 120mm smoothbore gun). Challenger-2E has hunter-killer systems, where the commander has a panoramic thermal viewer to find targets and the gunner has a narrow-field thermal sight to engage them. There is a 7.62mm coaxial machinegun and provision for another machinegun on the roof (possibly with remote firing).

@ survivability: The Challenger-2E has a fully automatic fire and explosion detection system. All 45 main gun rounds are stored below the turret ring to enhance survivability. Turret drives are electric to eliminate the chance of hydraulic leaks or fires. The armor is improved with classified new technologies said to provide improved protection from chemical-energy and kinetic-energy attacks.

@ datalinks: Challenger-2E has an advanced battle management system, telling the commander where his vehicle is and where known enemy and friendly units are.

@ Construction has been simplified, using more cast components to eliminate difficult welding, and the electrical system has been simplified by eliminating fifty wiring harnesses. This may make the vehicle more attractive to export customers, such as Greece, which is expected to order about 225 new tanks from someone by year's end.--Stephen V Cole


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