While the Ministry of Defence was developing a tank (to be known as the MBT 80) to replace Chieftain, Royal Ordnance was building a new tank for the Iranian Government. This latter design was well advanced when the Shan of Iran was removed by the fundamentalist revolution and the deal with the Royal Ordnance was called off. In order to secure the work MBT 80 was cancelled and the Iranian tanks were completed for the British Army as Challenger, a name that had been used for another tank in World War 2. Essentially Chieftain was the world’s first main battle tank so it was one of the last to be armoured against conventional kinetic projectiles. New munitions which burn there way through armour demanded a change. The result was Chobham armour named after the location of the defence establishment in Surrey where it was created. Chobham is in its basic terms a layered system which can resist the new projectiles and it marked a major step forward in tank design, since it could not be cast like conventional armour it was also responsible for altering the shape of tanks to the angular profiles seen on most modern AFVs. Apart from the new armour and the use of a Perkins Condor V12 diesel engine, Challenger has a lot in common with Chieftain. Two significant differences are however the David Brown TN37 transmission and the use of hydro-pneumatics for the suspension system, these combine to give the tank a superb performance. Challenger entered service in 1983, performed extremely well during the Gulf War and has now been superseded in British armoured regiments by Challenger 2. Text from the information board at Bovington. If memory serves me correctly and the person I spoke to was correct, the tank displayed here was the first British tank to cross into Kuwait during the first Gulf War.
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