The British Army is also facing a decision on the future of its armoured corps - Leopard 2 is the best solution for it

The British Army is also facing a decision on the future of its armoured corps - Leopard 2 is the best solution for it
Author: kmweg.com|Caption: Leopard 2A7+
26 / 11 / 2020, 09:00

British Challanger 2 tanks are becoming more and more technically obsolete. From the beginning of the Challenger 1 and Chieftain replacement project, there have been rumors in the UK itself that a new version of British tanks is a worse option than buying pan-European and proven German Leopards 2. After two decades of the service of Challengers 2, the question of their future and possible replacement by German tanks is on the table again.

There are two options for resolving the situation of the Royal Armoured Corps, because what is true today will not be valid in ten or twenty years. Either Challengers 2 will be fundamentally modernized, de facto rebuilt. At first glance, this is not very promising for tanks that are already two decades old, the vast majority of which are used by the domestic army, and they have achieved the only commercial success in Oman, which has 38 of them. Vickers Defense Systems had no reason to keep the production line up, Challenger 2 production ended in 2002 with less than 450 vehicles and planned spare parts, and their shortage has been apparent for some time.

See also: Further modernization the ex-Soviet Czech T-72M4 CZ makes little sense

France and Germany are developing a joint MGCS project as the future successor to Leclerc, which is in a situation similar to Challenger 2, and Leopard 2, which, on the other hand, is still being produced and thus more effectively maintained. Italy is considering its own project, offering it to Spain and Poland. Modernizing Challenger 2 in Britain is remotely similar to our current modernization of the T-72M4 CZ tanks, which are even older. It is a not very rational and improvised "solution". It will allow you to postpone the real solution - that is, the purchase of promising modern technology. The ongoing production and lack of spare parts has led to a reduction in the number of British Army tanks over the years. Again, a basically similar development as in the Czech Army, where the technical condition of the T-72M4 CZ led at one time to a reduction in the number of actually serving vehicles to the strength of one company, and the SAO stated that the average tank annually traveled about a tenth of the standard distance.

The possible purchase of Leopards 2 could take place very quickly in the UK as well, and definitely faster than the modernization and re-launch of the unique Challengers. We also see this in the case of Hungary: the old Czech tanks will be modernized in VOP CZ by 2025, while Hungary will be completely upgraded to Leopard 2HU by the same dates.

See also: Modernization of the T-72M4 CZ tanks in the light of the findings of the Supreme Audit Office

At first glance, the Challenger 2 with a 120mm rifled cannon is really a bit out of trend in the development of modern Main Battle Tanks. American Abrams and German Leopards are used in many countries around the world, their latest versions are equipped with state-of-the art electronics, their smooth bore cannons can fire modern types of ammunition. At the same time, the United States do not export the latest versions of Abrams to foreign countries, and the only current alternative to the uncertain and certainly economically disadvantageous modernization of Challenger 2 is Leopard 2. Gradual modernization of British tanks would be a cheaper solution in the short term, but looking at the life-cycle cost perspective of such vehicles, it cannot be compared to the German tank. And in order to pay off for the supplier at all, more modernized tanks would probably have to be ordered than the Royal Armoured Corps could realistically need.

For the world power of the Order of Great Britain, it is certainly largely a matter of prestige if its defense industry has the ability to develop and produce a modern Main Battle Tank. However, the question is whether this ability was quietly lost to the failure of the Challenger 2 project decades ago.

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