Challenger

Overview

Challenger

Challenger had a somewhat complicated development. A number of prospective replacements for Chieftain, such as the future MBT project with Germany and the home grown MBT80, did not come to fruition. Meanwhile, development for the Iranian market of Shir I (a Chieftain upgrade/hybrid with a new and reliable power pack) and Shir 2, a new vehicle with Chobham laminate armour, resulted in the adoption of the Shir 2 design, as Challenger, on the fall of the Iranian Regime in 1979.

Most of the current western MBTs look vaguely similar as they usually have laminate armour of some sort, resulting in a ‘boxy’ appearance. Differences in design philosophy still affect the mix of gun power, armour and mobility with Challenger coming out as a particularly well-balanced design. Early tank gunnery competitions under NATO auspices (1985 and 1987) yielded disappointing results, which together with the adoption (or retention) of a rifled 120mm main gun as opposed to the almost standard smoothbore 120mm gun of M1A1 Abrams or Leopard II, militated against success in the all important export market.

The success of the pudding is, however, in the eating and actual combat use of the type in the first Gulf War and particularly in the second Gulf War by Challenger II and therefore outside this scope of this study, has shown a very effective and ‘survivable’ vehicle indeed.

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