Edinburgh, UK. An £6m subcontract has been awarded to Quantic Thistle, to supply encoders for the British Army’s upgraded Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank (MBT)

The contract ensures the British Army’s Challenger 3 will have reliable and highly accurate sensors ensuring the effectiveness of the main armament.

Under the contract, Quantic Thistle (formerly Thistle Design) will supply RBSL with a Turret Displacement Unit, in support of the UK MOD's tank upgrade programme. The unit forms part of the new turret, providing precise turret position data to the vehicle’s systems.

As a UK-based SME and manufacturer, this success enhances the long-term security of the business, its employees, and Quantic Thistle’s role in both the local and wider manufacturing community, which in turn supports the UK prosperity agenda.

The work will be completed at Thistle’s manufacturing facility in Edinburgh, which is in the process of expanding production capacity to support this and several other new major contracts, resulting in a doubling in size over the next 18 months.

The contract will also support growth, including recruitment of ten additional roles and apprentices, with further recruitment planned over the next three years.

The six-year contract was signed by RBSL and Quantic Thistle at RBSL’s Hadley Castle Works in Telford, UK. 

Colin McClean, Managing Director at RBSL said:

“This contract is the latest in a series of UK supplier contracts awarded by RBSL for Challenger 3, ensuring the programme benefits from the best of British engineering and manufacturing whilst also sustaining valuable skills across the country.

“We are very pleased to welcome Quantic Thistle to the team and we look forward to working with them as the programme progresses.”

Gordon Stewart, Managing Director of Quantic Thistle said:

“Quantic Thistle has a long and proud history of designing and manufacturing bespoke sensors for key UK platforms such as Scimitar, Warrior, Ajax and indeed Challenger 2. Recently we have been building a strong relationship with RBSL and we have been fortunate to be given the opportunity to bid into this critical defence project. This is a significant and vital upgrade in capability for Challenger 3 and it aligns perfectly with our business strategy to grow our support into UK MoD, whom we have supported in land, sea, and air applications for more than 30 years. We are excited to build our relationship with RBSL and being part of the delivery of improved land capability in the UK.”

“Being awarded this contract gives Quantic Thistle an opportunity to expand our capabilities in the land domain and provides long further long-term security to the business and its people. As a UK based SME, participating in this project will strengthen our role in the social value agenda, with increased recruitment and the ability to support our local communities with careers, work experience and apprenticeships.”

“We are incredibly proud of our team at Quantic Thistle for being awarded this contract allowing us to continue manufacturing mission-critical components in key UK defence platforms,” says Ross Sealfon, President & CEO of Quantic Electronics. “We look forward to supporting their continued growth over the coming years."

Owen Thompson, MP for Midlothian, commented “This is great news for Quantic Thistle and it’s great news for Scotland. This vital defence contract will underpin Thistle’s growth and provide both skilled employment and learning opportunities for your people in Midlothian.”

About RBSL

Rheinmetall BAE systems land (RBSL) is a defence engineering company based in the UK. We design, manufacture and support military vehicles used by the British Army and international customers.

RBSL was launched in July 2019 as a new, UK-based and independent joint venture business between BAE Systems and German defence firm, Rheinmetall. 

RBSL has a proud heritage, having designed and delivered many of the Army’s armoured vehicle fleets under different business names.

We have a skilled workforce of more than 450 employees, including 250 engineers, across our UK sites in Telford, Dorset, Bristol, and near Newcastle. 

We also have a thriving Early Careers community made up of apprentices and graduates.

About Quantic Thistle

Quantic Thistle is a UK SME who design and manufacture the world’s most accurate custom encoders for mission critical motion and control applications across Land, Sea, Subsurface and Air domains, as well as critical industrial applications not only in the UK, but also in Europe and across the world. For over three decades Thistle has supplied vital components for key UK platforms such as Scimitar, Warrior, Challenger, and Ajax vehicles, Type 45, Type 26, QE Class ships, Astute and Dreadnought submarines and Hawk aircraft. While the company’s focus remains the design, prototyping and manufacture of next generation encoders, they also maintain an expertise in ‘building to print’ and reverse engineering to enable customers to maintain continuity of supply on critical legacy programs. For more information, visit

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