Deciding that purchasing a new main battle tank would be too expensive, the British Army will likely stick with what has long been its plan A and proceed with a Challenger 2 life extension project (LEP) starting early next year, the Ministry of Defence said.
“During the concept phase of CR2 Life Extension Project (LEP) all options, from do nothing to buying a new tank, have been considered. As it stands, the manufacture and costs of a new main battle tank make it unlikely that the Army would seek this option. CR2 will be taken forward and the LEP is scheduled to enter the assessment phase in early 2016,” an MoD spokesman said.
Challenger 2 was essentially sidelined in the 2010 strategic defense and security review (SDSR), with the number of operational tanks slashed and capabilities allowed to atrophy. The question of how to keep Challenger 2 viable was given new impetus by the re-emergence of Russia as a strategic threat and the appearance of the new T-14 Armata main battle tank at a Moscow military parade in April.
The admission that a new tank was probably beyond the reach of the Army follows a recent media report that said the Army was considering such a move.