18 April 2024

UK’s newest battle tanks ‘imperative’ in more dangerous world, Grant Shapps says

18 April 2024

The UK’s latest generation of battle tanks will be “imperative” for a more dangerous world, Grant Shapps has said.

The Defence Secretary hailed the rollout of the first Challenger 3 prototypes in a visit to the factory producing them in Telford, Shropshire.

Some eight tanks have rolled off the Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land factory production line, the first of 148 which will be delivered to the British Army.

“In a more dangerous world, the need for vehicles such as the Challenger 3 is imperative, as the threats facing the UK evolve,” Mr Shapps said.

“This tank will be at the heart of the British Army’s warfighting capabilities and will be integral to the UK’s deterrence.

“The hard work and dedication on show in Telford and across the country is instrumental in driving forward UK defence innovation and delivering for our forces in the frontline.”

The Challenger 3 will serve as the army’s new main battle tank, and will remain in service until at least 2040.

It will gradually replace the Challenger 2, a tank which entered production in the 1990s.

The older tank has recently seen service in Ukraine, after the UK donated a number of the vehicles to the eastern European nation’s war effort.

Its replacement will be used alongside lighter armoured fighting vehicles Boxer, and Ajax, which has been beset by production difficulties.

Challenger 3 is being rolled out at a time when the UK Armed Forces are facing a slump in recruitment following a long downward drift in defence spending.

Ministers have insisted £24 billion invested in the armed forces between 2020 and 2025 is the largest sustained investment since the Cold War.

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