HC Deb 14 July 1987 vol 119 c437W
52. Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the standard of British tank international gunnery demonstrated in recent competitions; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ian Stewart

I do not believe that the performance of tanks in the artificial circumstances of a competition, such as the recent Canadian Army Trophy, is a proper indication of their capability in war. Challenger's gun gives the best penetrative performance against the tanks of a potential enemy. The tank itself is arguably the best protected in the world and has excellent mobility. It carries an advanced thermal imaging system which is much admired by our allies and ensures that Challenger can fight effectively by night and by day. Participation in international tank gunnery competitions is one useful option in the complete spectrum of training opportunities available in preparing our tank crews for war, but it is not on its own a basis for judgment of overall capability.