£20 million contract marks big steps towards Challenger 3 missile protection system

The Challenger 3
The Challenger 3 turret demonstrator, seen here during trails in Germany. The new tank will carry additional high velocity am
  • Advanced system could provide cutting-edge protection to British soldiers
  • Ability to protect against incoming rockets and immediately track the source
  • Work continues on delivery of Challenger 3 tanks in the coming years

A £20-million contract has been awarded by Defence Equipment & Support, securing the hardware for the next phase of tests on a cutting-edge new rocket and missile protection system for Britain’s Challenger 3 tanks.

The Trophy Active Protection System (APS) will be tested and integrated with Challenger 3 to provide enhanced protection against rocket and missile threats, while simultaneously finding the origin of the hostile fire for immediate response. The system can locate an incoming rocket or missile in less than a second, destroying it by firing back its own ammunition.

The system, which is being supplied by industry partner Rafael, has completed three weeks of assessment phase trials on the Challenger 3 representative system with a total 25 shots, including live intercept shots. The contract will secure a number of trophy systems and counter measures and test equipment required for the qualification and integration activity planned for the upcoming demonstration phase.

The Challenger 3 is being manufactured by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL), creating hundreds of jobs across the UK supply chain – supporting the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy – and the tank is expected to enter service in 2027.

Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge said: “This contract will be a key step towards ensuring our Challenger 3 tanks are equipped with the most advanced protection systems available. Their ability to identify incoming hostile fire and neutralise it in less than a second demonstrates the UK’s ability to consistently acquire the most advance battlefield equipment.

“Procurement of this kind boosts the UK’s sustained assurance to maintaining our world-leading capabilities in land warfare and helps ensure that Challenger 3 will be an exceptional capability.”

This early procurement of these ‘long-lead items’ will allow the Demonstration Phase to start in 2024.

David Tomlin, APS lead for the Land Equipment Operating Centre at DE&S, said: “Assessment Phase Trials of the APS has completed, and we now have confidence to move forward to the next phase. Placing this contract will allow the Demonstration Phase to start in 2024 where the APS system will be qualified and integrated onto the CR3 tank.

“Securing these trophy long-lead items is another step forward in securing a world class protection system for our soldiers on the front line.”

The Demonstration Phase will be delivered by Rafael Defence Systems and RBSL as the Design Authority for the Challenger 3 tanks. The testing will be delivered at Rafael’s facility in Israel, and in UK test ranges.