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  1. #1
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    Challenger 2 ( Tank ) Firing Range Incident Report

    A Design flaw for the last 20 years rears its head.


    https://assets.publishing.service.go...edacted_RT.pdf

  2. #2
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    3/ All 4 crew members were injured and were transferred to hospital, where 2, the Commander and Loader, tragically died. The vehicle suffered significant internal damage including destruction of the breech.

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    4/ Core accident came from a combination of a very unfortunate sequence of events that existing drills are not designed to check for, exacerbated by a cultural lack of safety that appears to pervade the RAC, seemingly to improve combat performance.

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    5/ Following a day of firing the BVA was removed during cleaning and for several reasons not reinstalled to the gun and the crew left the vehicle for the day.

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    6/ Unaware of this, a separate crew selected the tank for an ‘experience shoot.’ The vehicle was mounted, made ready, and fired. Without a BVA fitted, the charge vented into the fighting compartment.

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    7/ As pressure built, the charge detonated. Without a BVA fitted, the breech failed, propelling the top half through the compartment and embedding it in the rear turret racks. The commander was thrown from the vehicle.

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    8/ 4 loose charges on the floor of the loaders area were subsequently ignited, starting a fierce fire in the fighting compartment, injuring the remaining crew.

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    9/ Some significant notes/lessons/observations from the incident:

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    10/ Charges: 4 charges were loose in the turret and were source of significant fire that followed the explosion. The inquiry established it was common in RAC to store charges loose to allow faster RoF, despite knowing it to be dangerous.

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    11/ Casualties: Extracting casualties from AFVs is not quick or straightforward. Despite being on a domestic range with dedicated medical assets at firing point and extensive civilian assets near, it took 5-7 minutes for the first 432 ambulance to get to the tank.

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    12/ It was 15-20 minutes before the first casualty was extracted and 2 hours before the first air ambulance transferred a casualty from the site. This is not a criticism here or in the report but a reflection of the difficulty of dealing with an explosion/fire based AFV incident.

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    13/ Safety: Of note for those hung up on 'design flaw' of storing charges in CR2 hull, despite breech failure and loose charges in the fighting compartment being ignited followed by secondary fires, charges stored in bins were undamaged and certified for use after the accident.

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    14/ Fire suppression: If CR2 were fitted with automatic fire suppression system would it have diminished or prevented the original breach explosion? Certainly would have limited or prevented the ignition of loose charges and extinguished flames.

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    15/ The vehicle is reported to be burning for some 4 mins, and was 20 mins before personnel could mount the turret and fire extinguishers into hatches. Degree of injury and speed of extraction/treatment would be radically different.

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    16/ The inquiry reports the cause of death to the loader as burns, noting serious burns to the gunner and mild burns to the driver. Blast is not stated as primary cause of injuries.

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    17/ CR2 is not alone in lacking an automatic fire suppression system. Leopard 2 only regained its system recently in the 2A6M+ having removed it in the 2A5 upgrade due to EU/DE regs relating to the agent used.

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    18/ Extraction kit: driver’s hatch emergency release failed, and it was only local fire brigade with jaws of life that got it open. Should armoured medevac carry such kit?

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    19/ What can be learned? Human factors ultimately were the biggest culprit. Unlikely sequence of events combined with no drill that could detect the lack of critical BVA when gun is being made ready.

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    20/ Widespread practice of not storing charges per drills resulted in significantly more damage/injury than could have been expected. Casualties included 2x RIG, so this wasn’t a case of inexperienced crew, but a broader institulional issue.

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    21/ Technically the main weapon has a design flaw that allows the weapon to fire without a critical component fitted. That this took 20 years to come to light is remarkable, but something that cannot be engineered out so late in the systems life cycle.

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    22/ Drills and checks will have to, and already are being, adapted to mitigate. Hopefully without excessive burden to operating efficiency.

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    23/ LEP should seek to install an automatic fire suppression system to mitigate fires and explosions in the fighting compartment if it is not mandated already. I do not recall either bid boasting of it?

    1:23 AM - 24 May 2019

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  4. #3
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    Interesting chain of events. I'm shocked that the black tankers coveralls are not flame retardent. The bloody mobile phone raises its head yet again.

    The incident reminded me of my shoot with the AML90, many moons ago, which like all AFVs was fitted with internal main gun ammo storage racks. Unfortunately, the most recent supplier of ammo to the Irish DF had provided a round which was longer than the original round, and as such could not be contained in most of the internal stowage securely . The only option available was to store your rounds in the external bin until you had space within the hull. The turret modifications had also removed room for the coax ammo storage.
    As flashover was a relatively common ocurrence in the gun reaching the end of its useful life, it is luck and little more that the Irish DF did not have a similar tragedy with the AML90, though with different causes. Anyone who bemoans its passing out of service never had to operate in it.
    Chal 2 is a bastard child and always was. A race to be as good as Leopard 2 and Abrams when export customers come calling. Abrams seem to have a much safer turret to work in. My understanding is that gun cannot fire while the ammo storage door is open, and the design of ammo mean you aren't going to have ready use ammo lying around the crew compartment, as in this accident.
    Sad that it took a whole 20 years to realise the gun could be fired in a fatally unsafe condition.
    German 1: Private Schnutz, I have bad news for you.
    German 2: Private? I am a general!
    German 1: That is the bad news.

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  6. #4
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    Nice one. thanks for putting that up. I'd love to be able to read similiar Irish accident reports, if anyone knows how to get to them...

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoneToTheCanner View Post
    Nice one. thanks for putting that up. I'd love to be able to read similiar Irish accident reports, if anyone knows how to get to them...
    Are BoI reports even published within the DF?

  8. #6
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    10/ Charges: 4 charges were loose in the turret and were source of significant fire that followed the explosion. The inquiry established it was common in RAC to store charges loose to allow faster RoF, despite knowing it to be dangerous.
    The same type of attitude to the need to increase the speed of loading was contributory to the loss of the HMS HOOD.

    'm shocked that the black tankers coveralls are not flame retardent
    You and I had this conversation some years ago about the kit worn in Irish AFVs at the time, accident waiting to happen.

    As flashover was a relatively common ocurrence in the gun reaching the end of its useful life, it is luck and little more that the Irish DF did not have a similar tragedy with the AML90, though with different causes. Anyone who bemoans its passing out of service never had to operate in it.
    Probably because the amount of rounds expended over the service life would be relatively low compared to the Brits.
    Time for another break I think......

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  10. #7
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    There was an Air Corps Cessna Crash some years ago that never saw a public report.
    German 1: Private Schnutz, I have bad news for you.
    German 2: Private? I am a general!
    German 1: That is the bad news.

  11. #8
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    How would you get a flashover from a sealed cartridge case like the 90mm of the AML? Apart from that, how did a longer round fit into the gun?

  12. #9
    Hostage Flamingo's Avatar
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    I wonder what our sometime-resident Abrams tanker has read the report yet, and his thoughts on it...
    'He died who loved to live,' they'll say,
    'Unselfishly so we might have today!'
    Like hell! He fought because he had to fight;
    He died that's all. It was his unlucky night.
    http://www.salamanderoasis.org/poems...nnis/luck.html

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by na grohmiti View Post
    Interesting chain of events. I'm shocked that the black tankers coveralls are not flame retardent. The bloody mobile phone raises its head yet again.

    The incident reminded me of my shoot with the AML90, many moons ago, which like all AFVs was fitted with internal main gun ammo storage racks. Unfortunately, the most recent supplier of ammo to the Irish DF had provided a round which was longer than the original round, and as such could not be contained in most of the internal stowage securely . The only option available was to store your rounds in the external bin until you had space within the hull. The turret modifications had also removed room for the coax ammo storage.
    As flashover was a relatively common ocurrence in the gun reaching the end of its useful life, it is luck and little more that the Irish DF did not have a similar tragedy with the AML90, though with different causes. Anyone who bemoans its passing out of service never had to operate in it.
    Chal 2 is a bastard child and always was. A race to be as good as Leopard 2 and Abrams when export customers come calling. Abrams seem to have a much safer turret to work in. My understanding is that gun cannot fire while the ammo storage door is open, and the design of ammo mean you aren't going to have ready use ammo lying around the crew compartment, as in this accident.
    Sad that it took a whole 20 years to realise the gun could be fired in a fatally unsafe condition.
    How did a 90mm cartridge fit into the gun if it was longer than the older type of round? How did sealed cartridges cause flashovers?

  14. #11
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    The 90 is a breech loaded weapon. Newer casing was only 5mm longer, but that was enough for stowage locks not to engage.
    Flash over in the aml was from the buffer, not the round. Compressed liquids under extreme pressure etc.
    German 1: Private Schnutz, I have bad news for you.
    German 2: Private? I am a general!
    German 1: That is the bad news.

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  16. #12
    gunner at heart Archimedes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by na grohmiti View Post
    The 90 is a breech loaded weapon. Newer casing was only 5mm longer, but that was enough for stowage locks not to engage.
    Flash over in the aml was from the buffer, not the round. Compressed liquids under extreme pressure etc.
    As regards flashover, I think that the point is that because the propellant of the 90mm rounds is sealed inside a brass cartridge, it would be less likely to fuel a secondary fire than the uncased propellant charges sitting on the floor of the Challenger 2.
    Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

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  18. #13
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    Very true. There is a long history in the UK of major assets being lost due to improper cordite storage.
    German 1: Private Schnutz, I have bad news for you.
    German 2: Private? I am a general!
    German 1: That is the bad news.

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  20. #14
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    people stepping outside established procedures....

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