Shropshire Star

Ukrainian ambassador taking ride in a tank at Telford manufacturer

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Kingdom is due to visit Shropshire today to see the tanks the UK is supplying for his country's war effort.

A Challenger 2 main battle tank

Vadym Prystaiko was visiting Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) in Telford where he was being taken for a drive in a Challenger 2 tank, which the Ministry of Defence is supplying for use in the war against Russia.

Mr Prystaiko joined Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin, for a tour of the Hadley Castle Works.

RBSL is a defence engineering company specialising in the design, manufacture and support of military vehicles used by the British Army and international customers, and is the Design Authority for the Challenger 2 main battle tank.

The company is upgrading 148 tanks, which will be known as Challenger 3, as part of the British Army’s programme to update its defence capability.

In January the UK Government announced it would supply Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 tanks, plus ammunition and spare parts, to help defeat Russia’s invasion.

In March Ukrainian tank crews completed training on Challenger 2 tanks in the UK and have since returned home to Ukraine.

A Challenger 2 main battle tank

During the visit, the ambassador and Mr Pritchard were meeting RBSL managing director Colin McClean and strategy and future business director Rory Breen, as well as representatives from Defence Equipment and Support.

Mr Pritchard said: “I was delighted when the Government announced that the next generation of Challenger British battle tanks would be made in Telford.

"That decision has created opportunities for new jobs, new contracts for suppliers, and new apprenticeships for the next generation of defence engineers across Shropshire."

Mr Pritchard said he fully supported the Government’s decision to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, and was pleased to welcome Mr Prystaiko to RBSL to see for himself the capabilities of the tank.

"This will help his country’s brave fight against Russia’s barbaric and illegal invasion,” he said.

Mr McClean added: “The workforce at RBSL – be they our youngest apprentice or those who have been with the business over 40 years – take great pride in what we do for all our customers.

"We have nothing but the utmost respect for the bravery of the Ukrainian people and we will do all we can to support the equipment supplied by the British Government to the Ukrainian Army.

"It is an honour to welcome Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom to our headquarters in Telford and show him both the capability and the human passion that lies behind equipment such as the Challenger 2.”