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Challenger 1

Main battle tank

Challenger 1 MBT

The Challenger 1 man battle tank originated from Iranian order for improved Chieftain

Entered service 1983
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 62 t
Length (gun forward) 11.55 m
Hull length 8.33 m
Width 3.5 m
Height 2.5 m
Main gun 120-mm rifled
Machine guns 2 x 7.62-mm
Elevation range - 10 to + 20 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 52 rounds
Machine guns 4 000 x 7.62-mm rounds
Engine Rolls-Royce Condor CV12 TCA diesel
Engine power 1 200 hp
Maximum road speed 56 km/h
Range 500 km
Gradient 58%
Side slope 40%
Vertical step 0.9 m
Trench 2.8 m
Fording 1.07 m


   In the late 80s the Chieftain main battle tank was considered out-dated. Its main drawback was poor mobility. The Challenger originated from Iranian order for improved model of Chieftain - the Shir 2. The order was later cancelled due to Iranian revolution. However the project was taken over by the British MoD, design was further reworked and the tank became known as the Challenger, later redesignated as the Challenger 1. It entered service with the British Army in 1983. Production ceased in 1989. A total of 420 of these main battle tanks were built. The Challenger 1 was phased out of British Army service in 2000. Most of these main battle tanks were sold to Jordan where it is locally known as the Al Hussein.

   The Challenger 1 is armed with a fully-stabilized British L11A5 120-mm rifled gun. It is a significantly improved version of the Chieftain gun. It is extremely accurate, however this MBT was fitted with slow fire control system. During the operation Desert Storm the Challenger 1 tank engaged enemy target at a range of 5 100 m. A total of 52 rounds are carried for the main gun. Ammunition includes APDS-T, APFSDS-T, HESH, smoke and training rounds. All rounds are of separate loading type. The Challenger gun claims the longest-distance tank kill in history. During Gulf War it defeated an Iraqi tank at a range of 4 km.

   There are also two 7.62-mm machine guns. One of them is mounted coaxially with the main gun, while another is mounted on the turret roof. A total of 4 000 rounds are carried for machine guns.

   Protection of the Challenger 1 was much improved comparing with the previous Chieftain. It has a welded hull with Chobham composite armor, which is a combination of steel and ceramics. This armor provides a much higher level of protection, comparing to any monolithic armor. The Chobham armor was later adopted by American M1 Abrams. An add-on explosive reactive armor can be fitted. Vehicle is fitted with automatic fire suppression and NBC protection systems.

   This combat vehicle has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

   The Challenger 1 MBT is powered by a Rolls-Royce Condor CV12 TCA turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 200 hp. It is worth mentioning though, that comparable Western tanks - the M1A1 Abrams and Leopard 2 had a more powerful engines, developing 1 500 hp. The engine and transmission are mounted in one module can be replaced in field conditions within 45 minutes. There is also an auxiliary power unit, which powers all systems, when the main engine is turned off. Vehicle has a hydropneumatic suspension system, which provided good cross-country performance. It is worth mentioning that the Challenger 1 was famous for its mechanical reliability. Additional fuel tanks can be mounted at the rear of the hull for extended operational range. The Challenger 1 can be fitted with a front-mounted dozer blade or mine clearing systems.




   Challenger 2 improved version fitted with new turret and some other improvements. The new tank is significantly more capable than its predecessor. Its production commenced in the early 90s. All Challenger 1 MBTs can be upgraded to Challenger 2 standard;

   CRARRV armored recovery vehicle;

   Challenger Marksman SPAAG, fitted with Marksman air defense turret;

   Driver training tank.


Video of the Challenger 1 main battle tank


Challenger 1 MBT

Challenger 1 MBT

Challenger 1 MBT

Challenger 1 MBT

Challenger 1 MBT

Challenger 1 MBT

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