Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) awards £90m subcontract to Thales UK for state-of-the-art sighting systems on Challenger 3

7th February 2022 – A £90m subcontract has been awarded to Thales UK, based in Scotland, to deliver next generation sights for the British Army’s upgraded Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (MBT). 

The contract was signed by RBSL and Thales, with the Secretary of State for Scotland in attendance, at Thales’s site in Glasgow where the majority of the integration work will take place. 

The contract will protect key manufacturing skills in the UK and sustain 700 skilled engineers and technicians based in Glasgow, including 30 apprentices currently receiving training.

The contract will provide sights (panoramic and fixed azimuth weapon aiming sights) for both the vehicle commander and gunner. Thales will also provide a Signal Processing System (SPS), which will deliver state of the art video tracking and Wide Area Search and Detection (WASAD) capability. 

The sights will act as the eyes of the crew, enabling them to view the battlefield in high definition in all conditions, night and day. The system will increase the range and the detail available to the crew, as well as provide accurate target identification, tracking, digital imagery and firing ranges.

The sights will be tailored to meet Challenger 3 specifications and form an integral part of the wider £800m upgrade programme, as announced by RBSL and the UK MOD in May 2021.  The Challenger 3 programme will make significant enhancements to the vehicle and provide the British Army with a world-class capability, made in the UK.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:

“This is fantastic news. This contract gives the British Army the advanced capability it needs to ensure the country’s security. I met many of the Thales workforce on a recent visit, and was impressed by their capability and enthusiasm. This contract will support highly skilled jobs in Scotland – in total, UK defence spends around £2 billion a year in Scotland, supporting more than 12,000 jobs.”     

Dr Marco Noeding, RBSL Managing Director, said:

“RBSL is committed to ensuring the Challenger 3 programme delivers positive industrial impact for the UK. This means collaborating and working closely with our suppliers to deliver impressive capability and technology for British soldiers, as well as protecting UK engineering and manufacturing skills at the same time. We are very pleased to have achieved this latest milestone with Thales. Together, we will add value to UK defence and engineering on an enduring basis.”

Stephen McCann, Managing Director of Thales in the UK’s vehicle integration business in Glasgow, said:

“Thales’ continued supply and support of cutting-edge technology into the British Army’s armoured capability is a testament to the fantastic engineering capability of our team in Glasgow.  We are tremendously proud of our key role in the defence of the nation, which has endured since 1888, and this contract gives us the opportunity to further invest in innovation and the future of our team, including through our apprenticeship scheme.  A relationship we are very pleased to continue and grow.”

Challenger 3

The upgraded vehicle, to be called Challenger 3, will be a network-enabled, digital Main Bank Tank with state-of-the-art lethality, upgraded survivability, plus world-class surveillance and target acquisition capabilities.

The upgraded Challenger 3 will be equipped with the latest 120mm High Pressure L55A1 main gun, firing the latest kinetic energy anti-tank rounds and programmable multipurpose ammunition.  The gun is also complete with increased first-hit capability and the latest fire support technology.

The new turret structure and improved survivability systems provides the highest standard of protection for the crew.  The long-range commander and gunner primary sights will also be improved with automatic target detection and acquisition.

This solution also provides significant growth potential in all Main Battle Tank key capability areas with the new physical, electronic and electrical architecture.

Photo courtesy RBSL