On July 13, 2023, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense awarded a £20 million contract to Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for the development of a rocket and missile protection system intended for the Challenger 3 tanks. This contract is focused on procuring multiple Trophy APS systems, countermeasures, and test equipment needed for the qualification and integration activities during the forthcoming demonstration phase.
Rafael Defense Systems will be responsible for supplying the Trophy APS system for integration with the Challenger 3 tanks. The system has successfully completed a rigorous Assessment Phase, including an extensive series of 25 shots, including live intercept shots, performed on a representative Challenger 3 system. This successful testing phase has paved the way for the procurement of the Trophy Systems, Counter Measures, and test equipment required for the subsequent qualification and integration activities planned for the upcoming demonstration phase.
The Demonstration Phase, scheduled for 2024, will be overseen by Rafael Defence Systems and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), serving as the Design Authority for the Challenger 3 tanks. Testing of the integrated system will take place at Rafael’s facility in Israel, as well as at multiple test ranges in the United Kingdom. RBSL is responsible for manufacturing the Challenger 3 tanks, which are expected to be in active service by 2027.
The Challenger 3 (CR3) Program will also involve contributions from other companies. Elbit Systems UK will provide the Elbit Laser Warning System (ELAWS), while Curtiss-Wright will supply their aiming and stabilization system.
The Trophy Active Protection System (APS), developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is an advanced military technology designed to protect vehicles from incoming rockets, missiles, and high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. The Trophy APS has already proven successful on major Israeli combat vehicles, including the Merkava 3 and Merkava 4 tanks, Namer APCs, as well as American tanks, APCs, and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs).
The system functions by employing a small number of explosively formed projectiles to intercept and destroy incoming threats before they reach the protected vehicle. It provides an additional layer of defense to the existing armor of light and heavy armored fighting vehicles. Apart from enhancing protection, the Trophy APS also improves situational awareness by enabling the vehicle crew to identify the location of enemy fire, thereby enhancing survivability and maneuverability in various combat scenarios.
James Cartlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement, acknowledged that this contract represents a significant step towards equipping Challenger 3 tanks with advanced protection systems. He praised the system’s ability to swiftly identify and neutralize incoming threats, underscoring the UK’s commitment to acquiring modern battlefield equipment and strengthening its capabilities in land warfare.
The forthcoming Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (MBT) will introduce notable advancements across several areas. Notably, it will incorporate a new 120mm smoothbore gun capable of utilizing advanced global ammunition, thereby bolstering its firepower capabilities. Tank commanders will benefit from a new suite of sights that enhance targeting abilities in both day and night operations. The upgraded armor solution will provide improved defensive capabilities on the battlefield, while the active protection system (APS) will enable the tank to detect and neutralize incoming threats. Furthermore, the versatility of the Challenger 3 MBT extends to its turret, which can be easily fitted onto the tanks of allied forces and global partners. The tank’s mobility will be significantly enhanced through an upgraded engine and a new hydrogas suspension system. Collectively, these advancements aim to elevate the overall performance and effectiveness of the Challenger 3 MBT across various operational scenarios.