British Challenger 2s Headed to Poland
Mariusz Błaszczak, Head of the Polish MoD announced via Twitter that a British Challenger 2 company-sized element has been deployed to Poland. The unit is expected to work together with the elements of the 18th Mechanized Division, like the US airborne units.
“A company of British Challenger MBTs is coming to Poland this week, within the framework of the allied reinforcement force, supporting the forces that are already present within the territory of our country. This is yet another, strong proof of support provided to the Eastern Flank by the British”, posted Mariusz Błaszczak, via his Twitter account.
Earlier the British Army had been announcing that a tank element would be sent to Poland and that the said deployment would make use of the vehicles stored in Germany.
“Challenger 2 MBTs, deployed by the British Army, would work together with elements of the 18th Mechanized Division. They would work with them in a manner similar, to the one adopted by the elements of the US 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Brigades. The latter is currently replacing the 82nd Airborne in the Central Eastern European area of responsibility”, spokesman for the 18th Mechanized Division, Major Przemysław Lipczyński told us.
Meanwhile, the 21st Highland Brigade, a part of the 18th Mechanized Division, would soon be deployed to Latvia, with the PT-91 Twardy MBTs.
Challenger 2 is currently the primary MBT operated by the British armoured units. Even though it still offers major potential, some unique design features, such as the threaded barrel 120 mm gun, are gradually becoming obsolete and hard to maintain. Thus, a decision was made to modernize those MBTs, and the involvement of a German partner is highly expected. The MBT would receive a new turret, and a new main gun, and the powerpack would also undergo upgrades. The 55-calibre long 120 mm L30A1 gun would be replaced by the latest German Rh 120 L/55A1 smoothbore design. This would make it possible to utilize standard 120 mm NATO tank ammunition in the British Army. The modified vehicles would be designated Challenger 3.
The UK also planned cuts when it comes to the number of MBTs, from 227 to 148, in parallel to the Challenger 3 programme, back in 2021. The question remains open whether after the conflict in Ukraine broke out, the British Army is headed towards a structural reform that would benefit the heavy component that has been sustaining cuts for decades. The number of MBTs in service may go up, in response to concerns voiced by numerous experts. Currently, around 300 MBTs are available, including the stored ones. Notably, in recent months the Challenger MBTs have been quite active on the Eastern flank, partaking in operations of NATO forces in Estonia, and an exercise in Finland.