Industry Partners Team Up for Challenger 2 Race

Apache Helicopters & Challenger 2 tanks on Salisbury Plain during Exercise Tractable March 19th 2015. Source: Daily Mail.

BAE Systems has teamed with General Dynamics UK and several other industry partners to compete in a life extension program on the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank fleet.

The partnership, called Team Challenger 2, is made up of seven key players in the defense industry: General Dynamics Land Systems-UK; General Dynamics Mission Systems-International; Leonardo-Finmeccanica (formerly Selex ES Ltd); Moog, QinetiQ and Safran Electronics (formerly Sagem).

The British extended the out-of-service date of the tank by 10 years to 2035 in last year’s strategic defense and security review, and the planned life extension program is required mainly to address obsolescence issues on the aging vehicle, although there is the possibility to install some capability enhancements. About 227 British Army vehicles are set to go through the life extension process, which could be at a cost of £624 million ($816 million).

Oman, the only export customer for the tank, is keeping an eye on program developments even though its 37 vehicles are not part of the core program.

CMI Defence, Krauss Maffei Wegmann, Lockheed Martin and Ruag have also previously expressed an interest in the program.

Lockheed Martin UK is to team with Israel’s Elbit Systems in its bid to secure a deal to update the British Army’s aging fleet of tanks. The two companies revealed their collaboration pact just 24 hours ahead of the closing date for the submission of industry proposals to undertake the assessment phase on the program.

General Dynamics was also expected to be a bidder but opted instead to throw in its hand with BAE, the Challenger 2 design authority. General Dynamics is already under contract with the MoD to assemble a fleet of Ajax scout armored vehicles starting 2017 at a new manufacturing facility in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

The plan is to update Challenger 2 at the same site if the BAE-led team secures a manufacturing deal. The General Dynamics executive said the team was hoping to find logistics, training, electronic-architecture and other synergies between Ajax and the new program to help drive affordability.

Team Challenger 2 promotional material showed most of the key elements of the life extension program were turret systems. Thermal imaging, commander's primary sight, fire-control systems, gun-control equipment and electronic architecture are among the items to be replaced with updated technology. Capability enhancements are also a possibility, with lethality, survivability and power pack areas all likely to be the subject of studies in the upcoming assessment phase, officials said.

The MoD is expected to select two bidders to undertake a competitive two-year assessment phase ahead of awarding a development and manufacturing contract by around mid-2019.

Source:  BAE Systems, Defence News.

Written by Patricia Ruiz

Patricia Ruiz is Environmental and Forestry Engineer and a Supply Chain Management Expert

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