The British Army's main battle tank gets a 'dark mode' for night fighting

Black Night

British aerospace company BAE Systems has unveiled Black Night – a proposed upgrade for the British Army's Challenger 2 battle tank designed specifically for fighting after dark.

The tank features advanced thermal imaging tech developed by Leonardo – the same company that built the cameras used to film previously unseen leopard behavior in BBC nature documentary Planet Earth II

The cameras are mounted both front and rear, and provide extremely sharp images, even in total darkness. Instead of light, they detect heat from any object with a temperature above absolute zero (-273C).

Energy efficient

Some of Black Night's other features include a laser warning system that automatically slews the gun when targeted by enemy weapon systems, and an active protection system that automatically launches counter-explosives to neutralize incoming missiles.

The tank has also been made more energy efficient, with regenerative braking (similar to that used in electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf) in the turret, which generates energy when the gun slows down.

“The UK is home to some of the world’s finest engineering companies, who have pushed the boundaries of combat vehicle design with Black Night," said Simon Jackson, campaign leader for Team Challenger 2 at BAE Systems.

"We are providing the bulk of this upgrade from home soil, however, we have chosen the best defence companies from around the world to collaborate with also, including names from Canada, France and Germany who bring unique skills and proven technology."

BAE Systems is bidding for a contract to upgrade Challenger 2 and keep it battle-ready for the next 20 years.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)