Leopard 2A5 of the German Army (Heer)
|Type||Main battle tank|
|Place of origin||West Germany|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Wars||Kosovo War, Turkey–PKK conflict, War in Afghanistan|
|Unit cost||2A6: US$5.74 million (2007)|
|Weight||2A6: 62.3 tonnes (61.3 long tons; 68.7 short tons)|
|Length||2A6: 9.97 m (393 in) (gun forward)|
|Width||2A6: 3.75 m (148 in)|
|Height||2A6: 3.0 m (120 in)|
|Armour||2A6: 3rd generation composite; including high-hardness steel, tungsten and plastic filler with ceramic component.|
|1× 120 mm Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun (42 rounds)|
|2× 7.62 mm MG3A1 (4,750 rounds)|
|Engine||MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled V-12 Twin-turbo diesel engine
1,500 PS (1,479 hp, 1,103 kW) at 2,600 rpm
|Power/weight||24.1 PS/t (17.7 kW/t)|
|Transmission||Renk HSWL 354|
|Suspension||Torsion bar suspension|
|Fuel capacity||1,200 litres (264 imperial gallons; 317 US gallons)|
|550 km (340 mi) (internal fuel)|
|Speed||72 km/h (45 mph)|
The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the early 1970s for the West German Army. The tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. More than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been manufactured. The Leopard 2 first saw combat in Kosovo with the German Army and has also seen action in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian contributions to the International Security Assistance Force.
There are two main development batches of the tank, the original models up to Leopard 2A4, which have vertically faced turret armour, and the "improved" batch, namely the Leopard 2A5 and newer versions, which have angled arrow-shaped turret appliqué armour together with other improvements. All models feature digital fire control systems with laser rangefinders, a fully stabilized main gun and coaxial machine gun, and advanced night vision and sighting equipment (first vehicles used a low-light level TV system or LLLTV; thermal imaging was introduced later on). The tank has the ability to engage moving targets while moving over rough terrain.
- 1 History
- 2 Design
- 3 Combat history
- 4 Variants
- 5 Technical data
- 6 Operators
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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Even as the Leopard 1 was entering service in 1965, an up-gunned version with the new Rheinmetall L44 120 mm gun was being considered to keep pace with newer Soviet designs, but this was cancelled in favour of the MBT-70 "super-tank" project developed jointly with the United States. The MBT-70 was a revolutionary design, but after large cost overruns, Germany withdrew from the project in 1969. Work on a national development was started in 1970 by Krauss-Maffei. A year later, a choice was made for it to be based on the earlier Experimentalentwicklung (later named Keiler) project of the late sixties (itself derived from the vergoldeter Leopard or "gilded Leopard"), instead of being a modified MBT-70 or Eber. The name of the design was determined in 1971 as "Leopard 2" with the original Leopard retroactively becoming the Leopard 1. Seventeen prototypes were ordered that year (only sixteen hulls were built). They had to have a maximum weight of fifty metric tons.
On 11 December 1974 a memorandum of understanding was signed with the USA for the possible joint production of a new MBT, after the Americans had bought and investigated prototype hull number seven in 1973. In view of experiences in the Yom Kippur War, a higher level of protection was demanded that the prototypes's heavily sloped spaced armour. The weight class was increased to sixty tons. Prototype turret number fourteen was changed to test a new armour configuration, taking on a blockier-looking appearance as a result of using vertical steel perforated armour; it already had been much more voluminous than the Leopard 1's turret due to a large internal ammunition storage locker in the rear bustle. The Leopard 2 thus initially used perforated armour, and not Chobham armour. PT-14 used the 120 mm Rheinmetall gun (as did the U.S. M1A1 Abrams). After this, two new prototype hulls and three turrets were ordered, one (PT-20) mounting the original L7A3 105 mm gun and a Hughes fire control system, a second (PT-19) with the same fire control system but able to "swap out" the gun for the 120 mm Rheinmetall design (and later so changed by the Americans), and one more (PT-21) mounting the Hughes-Krupp Atlas Elektronik EMES 13 fire control system, with the 120 mm gun.
In mid-1976 prototype 19 was assembled and shipped to the USA, together with hull number twenty and a special target vehicle to test the armour. The prototype was called Leopard 2AV (Austere Version) because it had a simplified fire control system. It arrived in the US by the end of August 1976, and comparative tests between the Leopard 2 and the XM1 (the prototype name for the M1 Abrams) prototypes were held from 1 September at Aberdeen Proving Ground, lasting until December 1976. The US Army reported that the Leopard 2 and the XM1 were comparable in firepower and mobility, but the XM1 was superior in armour protection. Today we know this was true as regards a hit by a hollow charge, but also against KE-attack the Leopard 2 was inferior compared to the original M1 (400~450 mm to 450~470 mm). Its more traditional multi-fuel turbodiesel engine was also more reliable, and provided similar performance with less fuel consumption, with more noise but a smaller heat signature. This type of engine also allowed for quick engine startups and shutdowns to prevent the need for long idling periods on the battlefield. Hull twenty was fitted with simulation weights; it was discovered that these equaled only the weight of a turret without armour modules fitted, invalidating performance data. After the comparative test the Leopard 2 hulls returned to Germany for further evaluation, but turret 19 remained and was fitted to the hull of prototype seven, whilst its gun was changed for the 120 mm Rheinmetall. In tests until March 1977 it was found to be superior to the 105 mm L7 mounted on the Abrams, which was confirmed by subsequent NATO tank gunnery contests.
Before tests had begun, the United States had selected the Chrysler XM1 prototype for full development. In January 1977 Germany ordered a small pre-series of three hulls and two turrets, delivered in 1978. These vehicles had increased armour protection on the front of the hull. In September 1977, 1800 Leopard 2 tanks were ordered, to be produced in five batches. The first was delivered on 25 October 1979. The Dutch army had already rejected the M1 because of its high operating costs and the refusal by the Americans to fit a Dutch version with the 120 mm gun and instead ordered 445 Leopard 2s on 2 March 1979. The Swiss ordered 35 tanks on 24 August 1983 and started license production of 345 additional vehicles in December 1987. Although hardly being a major export success in the 1980s (no tank of the latest generation was), the type became very popular in the 1990s, when the shrinking German army offered many of its redundant Leopard 2s at a reduced price. It became successful enough in Europe that the manufacturer started calling it the Euro Leopard, despite France, Britain, and Italy all operating their own MBTs. But with further non-European orders, the name "Global-Leopard" is now used instead.
Production and exports
In September 1977, the German Ministry of Defence decided to go ahead with plans for production of 1,800 Leopard 2s, to be delivered in five batches. Krauss-Maffei was again chosen as the main contractor, but this time Maschinenbau Kiel (MaK), of Kiel would be a major (45%) subcontractor. Deliveries started in 1979, and by 1982 the first batch of 380 Leopard 2; 209 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10001 to 10210) and 171 by Mak (Chassis Nr. 20001 to 20172) was completed. The earliest of these were fitted with an image intensifier, the last 80 with a new thermal night-sight system, and this was later retrofitted to the earlier models.
The first export customer were the Netherlands which received 445 vehicles between July 1981 and July 1986. The Netherlands later resold 114 of these (and one turret) to Austria, 80 to Canada in 2007, another 52 tanks to Norway, 37 to Portugal and finally 100 to Finland. Sweden also acquired 280 Leopards, 160 2A4s from German stocks, designated Stridsvagn 121, and the rest Leopard 2(S) models (designated Stridsvagn 122) similar in configuration to the Leopard 2A5 variant. Spain first leased and later bought 108 2A4 models in the interim period before 219 license-built Leopard 2A6 models (Leopard 2E) were ready to replace them. Switzerland bought 380 between 1987 and 1993. Some countries also use versions of the tank, including Poland, Denmark, Finland, Greece (license-built Leopard 2Hel), Turkey and Chile. Germany has fielded about 2,125 Leopard 2s in various versions. The design was also tested by the UK in the 1980s, which ultimately decided on the Challenger 1. The Australian Army evaluated ex-Swiss Army Leopard 2s as a replacement for its Leopard 1 tanks in 2003 but instead selected the M1A1 Abrams.
The Leopard 2 uses spaced, multi-layered composite armour throughout the design. The Leopard 2A5 and A6 models have additional armour added to the turret front, and on the hull and side skirts. Estimated levels of protection for the Leopard 2 range from 590–690 RHAe on the turret, 600 RHAe on the glacis and lower front hull on the Leopard 2A4, to 920–940 RHAe on the turret, 620 RHAe on the glacis and lower front hull on the Leopard 2A6 against kinetic projectiles. The mine-protected Leopard 2A4M and 2A6M adds an additional mine protection plate for the belly, which increases protection against mines and improvised explosive devices. All Leopard 2 variants after the Leopard 2A6 include spall liners on the inside of the tank, protecting the crew. The Leopard 2A6M CAN increases protection against rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) by including additional slat armour.
Two groups of four Wegmann 76 mm smoke mortars are mounted on either side of the turret and can be electrically fired either as single rounds or in salvos of four. They are mounted on most Leopard 2 models, with the exception of Dutch Leopard 2s, which are equipped instead with a Dutch-designed smoke mortar system with six barrels on each side. Swedish Leopard 2s utilize French GALIX smoke dispensers, similar to the system found on the French Leclerc.
The crew is also protected against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) threats, as the Leopard 2 is equipped with a NBC overpressurization system which provides up to 4 mbar (0.004 kPa) over-pressure inside the vehicle.
The Leopard 2 is equipped with a fire protection system. Four 9 kg Halon fire extinguisher bottles are installed on the right behind the driver's station. The bottles are connected to pipes and hoses and are activated automatically by the fire detection system, when temperatures rise above 82 °C (180 °F) inside the fighting compartment, or manually via a control panel in the driver's compartment. An extra 2.5 kg Halon fire extinguisher is also stored on the floor beneath the main gun.
The primary armament for production versions of the Leopard 2 is the Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun—the same gun currently used on the M1 Abrams—in either the L44 variant (found on all production Leopard 2s until the A5), or the L55 variant (as found on the Leopard 2A6 and subsequent models). 27 rounds of the main gun ammunition are stored in a special magazine in the forward section of the hull, to the left of the driver's station, with an additional 15 rounds stored in the left side of the turret bustle, and separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically operated door. If the ammunition storage area is hit, a blow-off panel in the turret roof would direct an explosion upwards away from the crew compartment. The gun is fully stabilized, and can fire a variety of types of rounds, such as the German DM43 APFSDS-T anti-tank round, which is said to be able to penetrate 450 millimeters (18 in) of steel armour at a range of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd), and the German DM12 multipurpose anti-tank projectile (MPAT). For the L55 gun, a newer APFSDS-T round was introduced to take advantage of the longer barrel, the DM-53, which is said to be able to penetrate 750 mm of RHAe armour at a range of 2,000 meters. The bore evacuator and the gun's thermal sleeve of the A4 and A5, designed to regulate the temperature of the barrel, are fabricated out of glass-reinforced plastic. The barrel has a chrome lining to increase barrel life. The main gun is capable of power elevating from +20° to −9°.
Rheinmetall has developed an upgrade for Leopard 2 tanks to give them the ability to fire the LAHAT anti-tank guided missile through the main gun; the missile can engage targets out to a range of 6,000 metres (20,000 ft).
The Leopard 2 is equipped with two machine guns, one mounted co-axially, the other on an anti-aircraft mount. On German models, the two machine guns are the MG 3 7.62 mm machine gun; on Dutch and Singapore models, these two machine guns are FN MAG 7.62 mm machine guns, and on Swiss models, they are Swiss MG 87 7.5 mm machine guns. 4750 rounds of machine gun ammunition are carried on board the Leopard 2.
The standard fire control system found on the Leopard 2 is the German EMES 15 fire control system with a dual magnification stabilized primary sight. The primary sight has an integrated neodymium yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) solid state laser rangefinder and a 120 element cadmium mercury telluride, CdHgTe (also known as CMT) Zeiss thermal sight which are both linked to the tank's fire control computer. A backup 8x auxiliary telescope FERO-Z18 is mounted coaxially for the gunner. The commander has an independent periscope, the Rheinmetall/Zeiss PERI-R 17 A2. The PERI-R 17 A2 is a stabilised panoramic periscope sight designed for day/night observation and target identification, and it provides an all round view with a traverse of 360°. The thermal image from the commander's periscope is displayed on a monitor inside the tank. Initial production tanks were not equipped with a thermal sight, due to the sight being not ready, and instead temporarily substituted the PZB 200 low light TV system (LLLTV).
The fire control suite is capable of providing up to three range values in four seconds. The range data is transmitted to the fire control computer and is used to calculate the firing solution. Also, because the laser rangefinder is integrated into the gunner's primary sight, the gunner is able to read the digital range measurement directly. The maximum range of the laser rangefinder is just less than 10,000 m with a measuring accuracy to within 20 m at this range. The combined system allows the Leopard 2 to engage moving targets at ranges of up to 5,000 meters whilst itself being on the move over rough terrain.
The Leopard 2 is propelled by the MTU MB 873 diesel engine, which provides 1,500 PS (1,103 kW) of engine output. The MTU MB 873 diesel engine is a four-stroke, 47.6 litre, 12-cylinder multi-fuel, exhaust turbo-charged, liquid-cooled engine, which has an estimated fuel consumption rate of around 300 litres per 100 km on roads and 500 litres per 100 km across country, and is coupled to the Renk HSWL 354 gear and brake system. The Renk HSWL 354 transmission has four forward, two reverse gears with a torque converter and is completely automatic, with the driver selecting the range. The Leopard 2 has four fuel tanks, which have a total capacity of approximately 1,160 litres, giving a maximum road range of about 500 km. Together, the propulsion pack is capable of driving the tank to a top road speed of 68 km/h (limited to 50 km/h during peacetime by law), and top reverse is 31 km/h. The power pack can be changed in the field in 35 minutes. The engine and transmission is separated from the crew compartment through a fireproof bulkhead. An enhanced version of the EuroPowerPack, with a 1,650 PS (1,214 kW) MTU MT883 engine has also been trialled by the Leopard 2.
The Leopard 2 has a torsion bar suspension, and has advanced friction dampers. The running gear consists of seven dual rubber-tyred road wheels and four return rollers per side, with the idler wheel at the front and drive sprocket at the rear. The tracks are Diehl 570F tracks, with rubber-bashed end connectors, which have removable rubber pads and use 82 links on each track. For use in icy ground, up to 18 rubber pads can be replaced by the same number of grousers, which are stored in the vehicle's bow when not in use. The upper part of the tracks are covered with side skirts, with the first two road wheels and idler covered by an armoured skirt.
The Leopard 2 can drive through water 4 meters (13 ft) deep using a snorkel or 1.2 meters (3 ft 11 in) without any preparation and climb vertical obstacles over one metre high.
The German Army has prioritized mobility in its Leopard 2 which is considered the fastest MBT in existence.
The German contingent of the Kosovo Force operated Leopard 2A4s and 2A5s in Kosovo.
The Dutch contingent in Bosnia-Hercegovina operated Leopard 2A4s and Leopard 2A5s at the NLD bases at Bugojno, Novi Travnik, Sisava, Knezevo, Maslovare and Suica.
In October 2003, Canada was planning to replace its Leopard C2s with wheeled Stryker Mobile Gun Systems. However, operational experience in Afghanistan, and in particular during Operation Medusa, convinced the Canadian military of the usefulness of maintaining a tank fleet. Leopard C2s were deployed to Kandahar in December 2006, but they were by then almost 30 years old, and were nearing the end of their operational life. The Canadian government decided to borrow 20 Leopard 2A6s and three armoured recovery vehicles from Germany for rapid deployment to Afghanistan. In late August 2007, the first Leopard 2s were airlifted into Afghanistan to equip Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians).
In an assault on 2 November 2007, a Leopard 2A6M hit an IED and survived without casualties: "My crew stumbled upon an IED (improvised explosive device) and made history as the first (crew) to test the (Leopard 2A6) M-packet. It worked as it should." wrote a Canadian officer in an email to German defence officials. Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier denied reports that a Leopard II tank that was struck by an IED was a write-off, insisting that the tank has been repaired and is once again in use. "The Taliban have been engaged with some of the new Leopard II tanks in several ambushes" and that as a result the Taliban "learned some very harsh lessons" and lost the battle in question "very quickly and very violently."
In October 2007, Denmark also deployed Leopard 2A5 DKs in support of operations in southern Afghanistan. The Danish tank unit, drawn from the first battalion of the Jydske Dragonregiment (Jutland Dragoons Regiment), was equipped with three tanks and one M113 armoured personnel carrier, with an armoured recovery vehicle and another tank kept in reserve. The Danish version of the Leopard 2A5 is fitted with Swedish-made Barracuda camouflage mats, that limit the absorption of solar heat, thus reducing infrared signature and interior temperature. It also has a conventional driver's seat bolted on the floor of the tank, wherereas in the Canadian 2A6M (as part of the mine-protection package) the driver's seat has been replaced by a "Dynamic Safety Seat", which is a parachute-harness like arrangement that the driver wears around his hip; in this way, the driver does not have any contact with the hull except on the pedals and is out of the shockwave area of exploding land mines or IEDs.
In January 2008, Danish tanks halted a flanking maneuver by Taliban forces near the Helmand River by providing gunfire in support of Danish and British infantry from elevated positions. On 26 February 2008, a Danish Leopard 2 was hit by an explosive device, damaging one track. No one was injured and the tank returned to camp on its own for repairs. The first fatality suffered by a crew operating a Leopard 2 happened on 25 July 2008. A Danish Leopard 2A5 hit an IED in Helmand Province. The vehicle was able to continue 200 metres (656 ft) before it halted. Three members of the four-man crew were able to escape even though wounded, but the driver was stuck inside. On site treatment by Danish medics could not save him. The vehicle was towed to FOB Attal and then later to FOB Armadillo for investigation and possible redeployment. During the same contact with Taliban forces, a second tank was caught in an explosion but none of the crew were wounded. Beginning on December 7, 2008, Leopard 2 tanks took part in Operation Red Dagger, firing 31 rounds in support of Coalition troops as they recaptured Nad Ali District. A press release from the British Ministry of Defence praised the tank's fire accuracy and mobility, claiming the Leopard 2 was a decisive factor in the coalition's success.Danish Leopard 2A5s are, as of 2013, still in Afghanistan, providing security cover for the withdrawal of British and NATO troops.
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The baseline Leopard 2, sometimes informally called the "A0" to differentiate it from later versions, was the first series manufactured version. The vehicles were manufactured from October 1979 until March 1982, altogether 380 vehicles. 209 were built by Krauss Maffei and 171 by MaK. The basic equipment consisted of electrical-hydraulic WNA-H22, a fire control computer, a laser rangefinder, a wind sensor, a general purpose telescope EMES 15, a panorama periscope PERI R17, the tower sight FERO Z18, on the tower roof as well as a computer controlled tank testing set RPP 1–8. 200 of the vehicles had a low-light enhancer (PZB 200) instead of a thermal imaging. Two chassis served as driver training vehicles.
Minor modifications and the installation of the gunner's thermal sight were worked into the second batch of 450 vehicles Leopard 2 designated the A1; 248 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10211 to 10458) and 202 by Mak (Chassis Nr. 20173 to 20347). Deliveries of the 2A1 models started in March 1982 and ended in November 1983. The two most notable changes were the modification of the ammunition racks to be identical to those in the M1 Abrams, and redesigned fuel filters that reduced refuelling time.
A third batch of 300 Leopard 2; 165 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10459 to 10623) and 135 by MaK (Chassis Nr. 20375 to 20509.) 2A1's of the third batch were built between November 1983 and November 1984, which included more minor changes that were later retrofitted to the earlier 2A1s.
This designation was given to upgraded vehicles of the first batch of Leopard 2s, brought up to the standard of the second and third batches. This modernisation gradually replaced the original PZB 200 sights in the first batch with thermal sights for the EMES 15 as they became available. Furthermore the upgrade included the fitting of filler openings and caps to the forward hull fuel tanks to allow separate refuelling, as well as the addition of a deflector plate for the periscope and a large coverplate to protect the existing NBC protection system. Finally, the tank was given new five metre towing cables with a different position. The programme began in 1984 and ended in 1987; the third, fourth and fifth batches were during this period produced with the same features. The modernised first batch can be recognised by the circular plate covering the hole where the cross-wind sensor for the fire-control system was removed.
The fourth batch of 300 vehicles; 165 by Krauss-Maffei (Chassis Nr. 10624 to 10788) and 135 by Mak (Chassis Nr. 20510 to 20644) was delivered between December 1984 and December 1985. The main change was the addition of the SEM80/90 digital radio sets (also being fitted to the Leopard 1 at the same time), and the ammunition reloading hatches being welded shut. Even with these minor changes the new batch was known as the 2A3.
The most widespread version of the Leopard 2 family, the 2A4 models included more substantial changes, including an automated fire and explosion suppression system, an all-digital fire control system able to handle new ammunition types, and improved turret with flat titanium/tungsten armour. The Leopard 2s were manufactured in eight batches between 1985 and 1992. All the older models were also upgraded to 2A4 standard. Until 1994 Germany operated a total of 2,125 2A4s (695 newly built and the rest modified older versions), while the Netherlands had an additional 445 tanks. The 2A4 was also license manufactured in Switzerland as the Panzer 87 "Leopard" or Pz 87. This version included Swiss-built 7.5 mm Mg 87 machine guns and communications equipment, and featured improved NBC protection system. Switzerland operated 380 Pz 87 tanks.
After 2000, Germany and the Netherlands found themselves with large stocks of tanks they had no need for after the Cold War. These tanks were sold to NATO or friendly armies around the world. Among these were Austria, who received 114 vehicles, Canada (107), Chile (140), Denmark (51), Finland (139), Greece (183), Norway (52), Poland (128), Portugal (37), Singapore (96), Spain (108), Sweden (160), and Turkey (354) were among the buyers of the surplus tanks.
The Pz 87WE (WertErhaltung) is planned a Swiss modification and upgrade of the Pz 87. The modification significantly improves protection through the addition of the Leopard 2A6M's mine protection kit, thicker armour on the front glacis, and a turret equipped with a Swiss-developed armour package using titanium alloy. The turret roof armour is improved and the smoke grenade launchers redesigned. Further improvements enhance survivability and combat capability, such as a turret electric drive similar to the Leopard 2A5, a driver rear-view camera, an independent weapons station for the loader, and enhanced command and control systems. The fire control system is also upgraded, using the Carl Zeiss Optronics GmbH PERI-R17A2 fire control system. A remote weapons station containing a fully stabilized Mg 64 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun is also fitted to the tank.
The Pz 87-140 is an experimental variant of the Swiss Pz 87 with a 140 mm gun and an additional armour later used on the newer production variants.
The Leopard 2A4CHL is the upgraded Chilean version of the Leopard 2A4 ordered by Chile in 2007. Upgrades include new electronics, sighting and information systems meant to elevate the Leopard 2A4's networking capability to be equal to that of the Leopard 2A6, a new suspension system and the upgrading of the tanks main gun to the L55 smoothbore cannon used on the Leopard 2A6. Other upgrades are remote weapon stations over the gunner and commander hatches fitted with the MG3 and HK GMG. The Leopard 2A4CHL also has improved roof and side turret armour and can be uplinked with Chile's battlefield control network.
The Leopard 2A4M CAN is the upgraded Canadian version of the Leopard 2A4 acquired from the Royal Netherlands Army surplus. The Leopard 2A4M CAN is specially designed for the war in Afghanistan, based on experience gained by Leopard 2 operators. The first 20 were delivered in October 2010 and with only 5 being deployed to Afghanistan at end of 2010, and operated until July 2011 when combat operations stopped. Though originally planned to be up-gunned to the L55 for consistency with the 2A6M CAN, the longer barreled guns (optimized for tank-vs-tank warfare) were found to be less than ideal in Afghanistan, therefore it was decided to retain the L44. In addition, only small areas of slat armour were added, in contrast with the fully caged 2A6M CANs. The protection of the Leopard 2A4M CAN has been further augmented with the addition of applique armour resembling that found on the most recent Leopard 2A7+ variant, but modified to fit the turret configuration of the 2A4. Of the remaining ex-Dutch Leopards, Canada will upgrade 42 for training use (though whether they will be fully upgraded to 2A4M CAN standards is uncertain) and convert 18 to Armoured Engineering Vehicles (13 firm and 5 options). Canada has also purchased 15 2A4s from Germany as Logistic Stock Vehicles (for spare parts), and in February 2011 bought 12 2A4s/Pz 87 from the Swiss to be converted to "support vehicles" (likely Armoured Recovery Vehicles).
The Leopard 2NG (Next Generation) is a privately funded Turkish upgrade by Aselsan that includes the application of modular composite armour (AMAP), upgraded optics, completely overhauled turret mechanics and a new fire control system on the work since 1995 and to be delivered by late 2011 which is intended to be used on new Altay MBT. It was developed without an order of the Turkish Army, but might meet the requirements for the modernization of the Turkish Leopard 2A4s. The old powerpack and the L/44 gun barrel are kept, but the combat weight is increased to 65 tonnes. According to the Turkish news sources, Finland is interested in getting the Turkish upgrade package to modernize their fleet of Leopard 2A4s.
The A5 introduced a wedge-shaped, spaced add-on armour to the turret front and the frontal area of the sides. These spaced armour modules defeat a hollow charge prior to reaching the base armour, and causes kinetic-energy penetrators to change direction, eroding them in the process; it does not form a shot-trap since it doesn't deflect the penetrators outwards to hit the hull or turret ring. The gun mantlet was redesigned to accept the new armour. There were also some improvements in the main armour composition. The interior received spall liners to reduce fragments if the armour is penetrated. The frontal "heavy" third of the side skirts was replaced with a stronger type. The commander's sight was moved to a new position behind the hatch and it received an independent thermal channel. The gunner's sight was moved to the turret roof as opposed to the cavity in the front armour in previous models. A heavier sliding driver's hatch was fitted. Turret controls went all-electric, increasing reliability and crew safety, as well as weight savings. The gun braking system was improved to prepare for the later mounting of the new L55 gun tube and to enable firing of more powerful ammunition, such as the DM-53 APFSDS. The A5 entered service in German tank battalions in mid-1998.
The Leopard 2(S) is a Swedish Army variant of the Leopard 2A5, which has received the local designation Strv 122. It is based on what was then called "Leopard 2 Improved" and features increased armour on the turret top and front hull, and improved command, control and fire control systems. Externally, the vehicle can be distinguished from the Leopard 2A5 by the French GALIX smoke dispensers, different storage bins, and the much thicker crew hatches. The Strv 122B, a variant equipped with modular AMAP composite armour from IBD Deisenroth, has increased 360° protection against threats like EFPs, RPGs and IEDs. The width of exactly 4 metres (13 ft) has been kept, while the weight increases by only 350 kilograms (770 lb).
The Leopard 2A5 DK is a variant of the Leopard 2A5 similar to the Leopard 2A6 with some small modifications, used by the Danish Army.
Includes the addition of the Rheinmetall 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun and other changes. All German tank battalions of the "crisis intervention forces" are equipped with the A6. Canada purchased 20 Leopard 2A6s from the Netherlands. These were delivered in 2007. Portugal also purchased 37 Leopard 2A6 from the Dutch in 2007, with delivery in 2008. In January 2014, Finland purchased 100 L2A6s, as well as munitions, simulators, and a ten-year supply of reserve parts from the Netherlands. The tanks are being delivered in batches between 2015-2019.
The Leopard 2A6M is a version of the 2A6 with enhanced mine protection under the chassis, and internal enhancements to improve crew survivability. Canada has borrowed 20 A6Ms from Germany for deployment to Afghanistan in summer 2007. The Leopard 2 Hel is a derivative of the 2A6, ordered by the Greek Army in 2003. The "Hel" stands for "Hellenic". The 170 tanks were to be delivered between 2006 and 2009. A total of 140 will be built in Greece by ELBO, which delivered the first units in late 2006.
The Leopard 2A6M CAN is a Canadian variant of the Leopard 2A6M. Significant modifications include distinctive black boxes mounted on the rear of the turret bustle, and stand-off slat armour. The first tanks configured in this variant were twenty tanks loaned from the German Bundeswehr, in an effort to increase firepower and protection given to Canadian troops operating in the south of Afghanistan. The loaned tanks are expected to retain their German MG3 machine guns, the ex-Dutch tanks are also expected to retain their FN MAG machine guns due to commonality with Canadian stocks. Due to the loaned status of the first 20 tanks, the air conditioning unit originally could not be installed as only minimal changes could be made (the crew wore cooling vests instead, and the turret's electric drive generates less heat than the hydraulic drive of the older Leopard C2). The loaned German tanks will be kept by the Canadian Forces and may be further upgraded, while ex-Dutch Leopard 2A6s were modified to German Leopard 2A6M specifications and used as restitution for the loaned tanks. Canadian Leopard 2s in Afghanistan were later fitted with air conditioning units and Saab's Barracuda camouflage mats which also serve to reduce solar loading by 50 percent.
The Leopard 2E is a derivative of the 2A6, with greater armour protection, developed under a program of co-production between the defence industries of Spain and Germany. The program was developed within the frame of collaboration decided in 1995 between the Defence Ministries of both countries, in which also was included the cession of use by a period of five years of 108 Leopard 2A4 from the German Army to the Spanish Army. However, this cession was extended up to 2016, and after that those tanks will be the sole property of the Spanish Army, as has been made public on 24 January 2006, then having been paid a total of 15,124,014 euros in ten yearly installments, giving the Spanish co-ownership from 2006. In 1998, the Spanish government agreed to contract 219 tanks of the Leopard 2E line, 16 recovery tanks Leopard 2ER (Bufalo) and 4 training vehicles. They chose Santa Bárbara Sistemas as the main contractor. The program, with a budget of 1,939.4 million Euros, includes also the integrated logistical support, training courses for crew instructors and maintenance engineers and driving, turret, maintenance, aiming and shooting simulators. Deliveries of the first batch began in 2004 and should complete in 2008.
Leopard 2 PSO
This new variant Leopard 2 PSO (Peace Support Operations) is designed specially for urban warfare, which had been encountered in peacekeeping operations with increasing frequency. Therefore the Leopard 2 PSO is equipped with more effective all-around protection, a secondary weapons station, improved reconnaissance ability, a bulldozer blade, a shorter gun barrel (for maneuvering on urban streets at the expense of fire range), non-lethal armament, close-range surveillance ability (through camera systems), a searchlight and further changes to improve its perseverance and mobility in a built-up non-wide open area. These features are not too dissimilar to the Tank Urban Survival Kit for the American M1A2 Abrams.
The Leopard 2A7+ was first shown to the public during the Eurosatory 2010, featuring the label "Developed by KMW - tested and qualified by German MoD". The Leopard 2A7+ has been tested by the Bundeswehr under the name UrbOb (urban operations).
The Leopard 2A7+ is designed to operate in low intensity conflicts as well as in high intensity conflicts. The tank's protection has been increased by modular armour; the frontal protection has been improved with a dual-kit on the turret and hull front, while 360° protection against RPGs and mine protection increase the survivability of the tank in urban operations. It can fire programmable HE munitions and the turret mounted MG3 has been replaced with a stabilized FLW 200 remotely controlled weapon station. The mobility, sustainability and situational awareness have also been improved.
The first unit was received by the German Army on December 10th 2014
|This section is outdated. (September 2012)|
As the 1990s began, Rheinmetall began developing a 140 mm smoothbore cannon as a future tank cannon. This was intended to counter new developments in Soviet-bloc armoured fighting vehicles, most especially persistent rumours that the next-generation Soviet main battle tank would be armed with either a 135 mm or 152 mm cannon. This program was contemplated as the third stage in the KWS program of modernizing Leopard 2 tanks. KWS I was the replacement of the L44 120 mm cannon with the 55-calibre model, KWS II was a modernization program that became the Leopard 2A5, and KWS III was the development of a new turret including a 140 mm smoothbore weapon system and an automatic loader, which would have resulted in the reduction of the crew size to 3 soldiers. The final project design contained a lateral loading mechanism and had the main gun moved in the left turret side. Ammunition load for the main gun was 32 rounds, which were stored in a large ammunition bunker, covering the full turret rear. Moving the ammunition out of the crew's compartment would have resulted in a higher survivability in case of a penetration. The planned protection level was to be equal to the Leopard 2A5 or better. Command and control of the tank was supposed to be improved by the introduction of the ISIS system in its latest version. The KWS III was not adopted then, but development continued on the 140 mm weapon system, with Rheinmetall coordinating with Royal Ordnance from the UK and GIAT from France. To test out the weapon's capabilities, the 140 mm gun was mounted to a Leopard 2. The tank was not equipped with the new turret armour of the KWS III improvement program, nor with an automatic loader, and it also still had the electro-hydraulic turret drive. To cope with the extra weight of the main gun, counterweights were added to the turret rear. The tests were partially successful, with the gun showing superior penetration power, but also some difficulties with the handling.
Engineering and driver training tanks
- Bergepanzer BPz3 Büffel (Gr. Buffalo)
- The BPz3 armoured recovery vehicle includes both a bulldozer and a crane with integral winch, allowing it to approach damaged vehicles, even over rough and fought-over terrain, and tow them to safety. It is equipped with a machine gun for local self-defence, a smoke grenade launcher, and NBC protection. Like the tank, it is powered by a 1,500 PS (1,479 hp, 1,103 kW) diesel engine. In service with Germany (where it is also designated Büffel or Bergepanzer 3 for Salvage Tank 3), the Netherlands (who co-developed it and call it Buffel), Austria, Canada, Greece, Singapore, Spain (where it is called Leopard 2ER Buffalo), Sweden (in modified form as the Bgbv 120), and Switzerland.
- Panzerschnellbrücke 2
- This vehicle, created by MAN Mobile Bridges GmbH, is an armoured vehicle-launched bridge developed from the Leopard 2 tank chassis. It is designed to carry a folding mobile bridge, which it can "launch" across a river. Once emplaced, the bridge is sturdy enough to support most vehicles, even Leopard tanks. When the crossing is complete, the bridge-layer simply hooks up to the bridge and re-stows it.
- Panzerschnellbrücke Leguan
- This modular system combines a bridge module created by MAN Mobile Bridges GmbH with a tank chassis. The Bundeswehr is testing the Leguan on Leopard 2 chassis.
- Pionierpanzer 3 Kodiak
- A combat engineering vehicle conversion of the Leopard 2, the Kodiak is used by Swiss Army, and is on order for the Dutch army and Swedish army. While equipped with a bulldozer, excavator, and dual capstan winches, the Pionierpanzer 3 has no turret but a Remote Weapon Station is fitted. It rides on the Leopard 2 chassis with a built-up forward superstructure. The vehicle is used primarily for clearance of obstacles (including minefields). The Dutch version will have additional bomblet protection for the crew compartments. Spain may procure 24 examples for the Spanish Army from converted Leopard 2A4 hulls. One vehicle has been trialled in Spain.
- Driver Training Tank (Fahrschulpanzer)
- The Leopard 2 Driver Training Tank, as the name implies, is a non-combatant Leopard 2 for instructing soldiers in the finer points of handling the tank. The turret is supplanted by a weighted and fixed observation cab with forward and side-facing windows and a dummy gun. The instructor rides in this cab, with override controls for critical systems, and space is provided for two other students to observe.
- Leopard 2R
- Heavy mine breaching vehicle developed by Patria for the Finnish Army, based on the Leopard 2A4. A total of ten vehicles were converted. The vehicles are equipped with a mine-plough or a dozer blade, and an automated marking system.
- Leopard 2L
- Armoured vehicle-launched bridge developed by KMW and Patria for the Finnish Army. Ten Finnish 2A4 tanks were re-built to carry the LEGUAN bridge.
|Description||Leopard 2A4||Leopard 2A5||Leopard 2A6/A6M|
|Engine:||MTU-12-cylinder-Diesel engine MB 873-Ka 501, with two exhaust turbochargers|
|Capacity:||47,600 cm3, RPM: 2,600/min|
|Power output:||1,500 PS (1,479 hp, 1,103 kW)|
|Transmission:||Hydro-mechanical control, reversing and steering gear HSWL 354 with combined hydrodynamic-mechanical service brake, 4 forward, 2 reverse|
|Suspension system:||Torsion bar spring mounted support roller drive with hydraulic dampers|
|9,670 mm||10,970 mm|
|Width:||3,700 mm||3,760 mm|
|Height:||2,790 mm||3,030 mm|
|Ground clearance:||540 mm|
|Wading depth without preparation:||1,200 mm|
|Wading depth with snorkel:||4,000 mm|
|Trench passability:||3,000 mm|
|Climbing ability:||1,100 mm|
|Empty weight:||52 t||57.3 t||57.6 t
A6M 60.2 t
|Combat weight:||55.15 t||59.5 t||A6 59.9 t (maximum mass; 61.7 t),
A6M 62.5 t
|Maximum speed:||71 km/h; backwards 31 km/h|
|Fuel capacity:||1,160 liters (limited to 900 liters when not in battle)|
|Fuel consumption and operating range:||
Road: ca. 340 l/100 km, ca. 340 km
|Rotation time (360°):||10 seconds|
|Armament:||Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun L/44 and 2 machine guns||Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun L/55 and 2 machine guns|
|Turret weight:||16 t||21 t|
|Turret rotation time:||360° in 9 seconds (electric)|
- Austria: The Austrian Army acquired 114 Leopard 2A4s from surplus Dutch stocks plus one turret. In 2014 only 56 Leopard 2A4s are still in service, the rest was sold to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) defence company.
- Canada: The Canadian Army acquired 100 Leopard 2A4 tanks from the Netherlands in 2007. Twenty Leopard 2A6M were borrowed from the German Army beginning in mid-2007 to support the Canadian deployment in Afghanistan, with the first tank handed over after upgrading by KMW on August 2, 2007, and arriving in Afghanistan on August 16, 2007. Two Bergepanzer 3 Büffel were loaned from the German Army for use with the Canadian deployment in Afghanistan. An additional fifteen Leopard 2A4 tanks were purchased from the German Army for spare parts. An additional 12 surplus Pz 87 were purchased from Switzerland in 2011 for conversion to protected special vehicles. The Canadian Army will be able to deploy 59 tanks (40 2A4M CAN and 19 2A6M CAN) supported by 13 to 18 AEVs, 12 ARVs and 15 Logistic Support Vehicles.
- Chile: The Chilean Army acquired 132 Leopard 2A4s upgraded to the Leopard 2A4CHL standard (plus 8 to be used as spares) from German stocks in 2007. In April 2013, Chile began negotiations to purchase 100 Leopard 2A5 tanks from surplus German stocks, as well as modernization kits to upgrade all its current Leopard 2A4s up to A5 standard.
- Denmark: The Royal Danish Army operates 57 Leopard 2A5DK (equal to Leopard 2A6 minus the L55 gun) and 6 Leopard 2A4 (for spares) from German stocks.
- Finland: The Finnish Army originally bought 124 2A4s from surplus German stocks in 2003. 12 have been converted into bridge-laying and combat engineering tanks. 12 tanks have been disassembled for use as spares, leaving 100 operational tanks. In 2009 the Finnish Army bought 15 more German surplus Leopard 2A4s for spare parts of existing fleet Finland currently has 139 Leopard 2s. On 16 January 2014, Finland agreed with the Netherlands to purchase 100 used Leopard 2A6NL tanks for approximately €200 million.
- Germany: The German Army has operated about 2,350 Leopard 2s of all versions. Large numbers have been sold to other countries after the end of the Cold War or placed in storage.
- Greece: The Hellenic Army operates 353 Leopard 2s (183 ex-German 2A4s and 170 newly built Leopard 2A6 HEL vehicles)
- Indonesia: Indonesia sought and obtained approval for the purchase of 104 used Leopard 2A4 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks, along with 4 Büffel ARV (Bergepanzer), 3 Leguan AVLB bridge-laying tanks (Brückenlegepanzer) and 3 Kodiak AEV (Pionierpanzer). About 61 of Leopard 2A4 will be upgraded to Revolution standard by Rheinmetall. 50 Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles would also be acquired as part of the deal. In September 2013, the Indonesian Army received the first two Leopard 2A4 tanks and 2 Marder 1A3 infantry fighting vehicles. A total of 24 German Leopard tanks will arrive at Tanjung Priok by August 2014.
- Norway: The Norwegian Army operates 52 ex-Dutch Leopard 2A4s, designated A4NO. The Norwegian Leopards are currently upgraded to 2A5 standard.
- Poland: The Polish Land Forces operate 128 Leopard 2A4s and ordered further 14 Leopard 2A4 and 105 Leopard 2A5. All Polish Leopard 2 tanks serve with the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade based in Świętoszów. In March 2013, Polish Ministry of National Defence announced that further similar numbers of Leopard 2 tanks will be bought to establish a second brigade. 22 November 2013 The Polish Defense Ministry has acquired 119 tanks from the German Army. These include 105 Leopard 2A5 tanks and 14 2A4 variants. All acquired Leopard 2A4 tanks are to be upgraded to Leopard 2PL standard. First 11 Leopard 2A5 arrived in Poland on 16 May 2014.
- Portugal: The Portuguese Army has 37 ex-Dutch Leopard 2A6s in service.
- Singapore: The Singapore Army acquired a total of 96 ex-German Leopard 2A4s, including 30 spare tanks. A number were upgraded with additional AMAP composite armour in 2010 by IBD Deisenroth and ST Kinetics and renamed Leopard 2SG in October 2010. By 2013, it was reported that Singapore had taken delivery of a total of 182 Leopard 2A4s.
- Spain: The Spanish Army operates 327 Leopard 2s (108 ex-German Leopard 2A4s and 219 new-built Leopard 2A6+ (Leopard 2E). Spain offered its Leopard 2A4 for comparative tests to be conducted by the Peruvian Army for possible acquisition. By September 2013, the Leopard 2A4 had been disqualified by Peru due to logistical complexities.
- Sweden: The Swedish Army operates 120 Leopard 2(S) (local designation Strv 122) and has operated 160 leased ex-German Leopard 2A4s (Strv 121). Only the Strv 122s are still in active service.
- Switzerland: The Swiss Army purchased 380 2A4s designated Pz 87, for Panzer 87. 35 of these were bought from Germany while the remaining ones were license manufactured locally. Beginning in 2006, 134 of these tanks have been modernized, 42 were sold back to Rheinmetall, and 12 were turned into de-mining and engineer vehicles. The remaining tanks are in storage.
- Turkey: The Turkish Army received 354 Leopard 2A4s.
- Former operators
- Netherlands: The Royal Netherlands Army has operated 445 Leopard 2s. 330 of these were updated to 2A5 standard in 1993, and later, 188 of these were converted to 2A6 standard. Many Leopard 2s were sold after the end of the Cold War. On 8 April 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced that the last remaining tank division will be dissolved and the remaining Leopard tanks sold due to large budget cuts. On 18 May 2011, the last tank fired the final shot at the Bergen-Hohne Training Area. They were due to be delivered to the Indonesian Army, which planned to purchase the entire Dutch stock of Leopard 2A6. However, the deal was scrapped after opposition from the Dutch Parliament. The Dutch Army offered its formerly operated Leopard 2A6s for comparative tests to be conducted by the Peruvian Army for possible acquisition. By September 2013, the Leopard 2A6 had been disqualified by Peru due to logistical complexities. The Leopard 2s were eventually sold to Finland in a deal signed in January 2014 for €200 million with deliveries to start from 2015 to 2019.
- Qatar: The Qatari government was interested in buying up to 200 Leopard 2 tanks from KMW. The deal depended in part on an approval from the German Bundessicherheitsrat (Federal Security Council). Qatar signed a contract for 62 Leopard 2A7+ tanks in April 2013. Deliveries are to commence in late 2014 or early 2015 and be completed in 2018.
- Saudi Arabia: The Saudi Arabian government is seeking to buy Leopard 2A7s (total of 600-800 desired). In early July 2011, German press reported that the Bundessicherheitsrat (Federal Security Council) approved the sale by KMW of more than 200 units of the 2A7+ tanks to Saudi Arabia. This news was met with criticism both inside and outside of Germany, because of the autocratic nature of the Saudi Arabian state and its involvement in repressing popular protests in neighboring country Bahrain. Criticism also came from within the Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition, and, later from within KMW. In June 2012, reports surfaced that Saudi Arabia had raised the number of tanks it is interested in to 600-800. So far a contract has not been finalized, and the issue is debated both in the German public and in Germany's federal parliament. On 13 April 2014, a German newspaper reported that the deal for Leopard 2 tanks for Saudi Arabia was likely to be cancelled due to opposition from the Social Democrat Economy Minister.
Tanks of comparable role, performance and era
- Arjun MBT : Indian main battle tank
- Challenger 2: British main battle tank
- Ariete: Italian main battle tank
- AMX Leclerc: French main battle tank
- Type 99: Chinese main battle tank
- Type 96A: Chinese main battle tank
- Main Battle Tank 3000: Chinese main battle tank
- T-80: Soviet main battle tank
- T-90: Post-Soviet Russian main battle tank
- T-84: Post-Soviet Ukrainian main battle tank
- Type 90 Kyū-maru: Japanese main battle tank
- Type 10: Japanese main battle tank
- M1 Abrams: US main battle tank
- K1 88-Tank: South Korean main battle tank
- Merkava: Israeli main battle tank
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