As another escalation and another extension of the war by several hours up to 10 Challenger 2 MBTs will be considered by the UK for supply to Ukraine.
This will be the first time Western tanks have entered the war in Ukraine. The move will likely spur other allies to do the same, Sky News reported on January 9. The British Army, due to financial constraints, could only afford to upgrade only 148 of its 227 Challenger 2 tanks, According to a report in The Times. One-third of the Challenger 2 main battle tank fleet will be cut. This makes the prospect of transferring Challenger 2s to the Ukrainian battlefield possible.
If this aid package is approved, this will be the first time Ukraine receives modern Western-made main battle tanks. Ukraine in recent times has pushed its allies to provide more heavy combat vehicles, but has not achieved the desired results. The British move will spur and will also put more pressure on NATO members such as Germany and the US to send Western main battle tanks (MBT) to Ukraine, and to push Germany to approve requests by other NATO countries like Denmark and Poland, as well as NATO candidate Finland to transfer some of their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The Challenger 2 is the British Army’s main battle tanks was in service since 1998. They are manufactured by BAE Systems Land Systems and are also in service with the Royal Army of Oman. The MBT is based on the Challenger 1 main battle tank and features 150 major modifications, including a completely new turret, L30 rifled CHARM 120mm gun, and second generation Chobham armour.
Since entering service, various upgrades have sought to improve the Challenger 2’s protection, mobility and lethality, the most recent of which was the Life Extension Programme (LEP). In March 2021, the British Army announced plans to upgrade 148 Challenger 2s to extend its service life out to at least 2035; these upgraded models will be known as Challenger 3.