The British Army’s Challenger 3 main battle tank (MBT) programme has completed the critical design review (CDR) ahead of schedule and within budget.

The achievement was announced by the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) procurement arm Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S).

The milestone means the tank’s design has been approved and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) can start building the prototype vehicles.

In a tweet, RBSL said: “This is a significant achievement made possible as a result of effective and close collaboration between industry, @BritishArmy and @DefenceES. Together we are moving closer to providing the British Army with a world-class #capability made in the UK.”

In May 2021, RBSL won an £800m contract from the MoD to convert 148 Challenger 2 MBTs into the Challenger 3 configuration. The upgrade decision is in line with the UK Defence Command Paper.     

The Challenger 3 MBT will feature a new 120mm smoothbore gun, a new suite of sights, an active protection system, a turret and an upgraded engine, and new hydrogas suspension.

It will be capable of travelling at speeds of up to 60mph, with increased range and the capacity to carry more ammunition.

The programme’s initial design review was held in March last year. RBSL will begin delivering the fully digitalised MBTs to the British Army from 2027.

The Challenger 3 Delivery Team has also carried out trials of the tank’s new advanced armour system.

RBSL has also completed awarding supply-chain sub-contracts to UK supply chain companies including Pearson Engineering, Thales, Curtiss-Wright, and Atec.

Work on the contract will be led out of the company’s manufacturing facility in Telford.