The Leopard 2 is, undoubtedly, one of the most sucessfull projects of the last generation of main battle tanks, with over 3,200 units produced. The Leopard 2 is in service with the armies of Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain. The Finnish Army is buying 124 and the Polish Army 128 used Leopard 2A4 tanks from Germany.
In March 2003, the Hellenic Army of Greece ordered 170 Leopard 2 HEL (a version of the 2A6EX), for delivery between 2006 and 2009. The first 30 tanks are being assembled by KMW, the remainder by ELBO of Greece. The first locally built tank was delivered in October 2006. In August 2005, Greece placed an order for 183 used Leopard 2A4 and 150 Leopard 1A5 tanks from the Bundeswehr reserves. In November 2005, an agreement was signed for the sale of 298 German army Leopard 2A4 tanks to Turkey. Deliveries are planned for early 2006-07.
The German Army is upgrading 225 2A5 tanks to 2A6 configuration, the first of which was delivered in March 2001. The Royal Netherlands Army has ordered the upgrade of 180 of its 2A5 tanks to 2A6 configuration, the first of which entered service in February 2003.
Spain has ordered 219 Leopard 2E (a version of the 2A6 with greater armour protection), 16 recovery tanks (CREC) and 4 training vehicles. The first 30 are being built by KMW and the rest are being license-built in Spain by General Dynamics, Santa Barbara Sistemas (GDSBS). The first tank was handed over to the Spanish Army in June 2004 and deliveries should complete in 2008. Another variant is the Leopard 2(S), which has a new command and control system and new passive armour system. 120 Leopard 2(S) have been delivered to the Swedish Army. Deliveries concluded in March 2002.
In March 2006, Chile signed a contract for the acquisition of 118 Leopard 2 tanks from the German Army. The acquisition package will consist of 93 refurbished Leopard 2A4 tanks together with 25 spare tanks and supporting equipment. Canada is going to buy 100 Leopard 2A4 from the Netherlands for the long-term requirements of the Canadian Forces, and should be delivered to Canada soon after completion of the government-to-government agreement. The Dutch army retains a fleet of 110 Leopard 2A6 tanks.
In April 2007, Canada purchased up to 100 Leopard 2 tanks from the Dutch Army and leased 20 Leopard 2A6M tanks from the German Army. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG delivered the first of the leased 2A6M tanks, which has been upgraded with improved mine protection and slat armour, in August 2007. The tank was deployed to Afghanistan later in August 2007. The Dutch army retains a fleet of 110 Leopard 2A6 tanks.
In December 2006, it was announced that Singapore is to buy 66 refurbished Leopard 2A4 tanks from the German Army, plus 30 additional tanks for spares. The tanks will enter service with the Singapore Army in 2008.
In October 2007, Portugal purchased 37 Leopard 2A6 tanks from the Dutch Army, to be delivered 2008–2009.
The development of the Leopard 2 MBT can be traced back to a project started in the 1960's. At this time Germany and the United States were still working on the MBT-70 program, so this project had a very low priority.
While Germany and the United States were developing the MBT/KPz-70, their agreement did not allow a parallel national tank program, but when the Leopard 1 MBT was introduced into service in 1965 Porsche was awarded a contract to develop improved components to increase its combat effectiveness to the standard demanded by the MBT/KPz-70. This program lasted until 1967, when the contract expired, and became known as 'Vergoldeter Leopard' or 'Gilded Leopard'.
When the first cracks appeared in 1967 in the German/American cooperation program for joint development of the MBT/KPz-70, the German Ministry of Defense decided to continue and to increase the development of the 'Vergoldeter Leopard', which later became known as 'Keiler' (Wild Boar).
The Leopard2A1,the first Version of the Leopard2
In the 1970's and 80's the Leopard2 was the most advanced Tank in the World,with his new Lenght 44 Gun it was also the most powerfull.
The Rheinmetall L44 Gun was the most Powerfull Tankgun at his time,later used in the american M1A1/A2 Abrams,Japanese Type 90,South Korean K1A1 and the Israeli Merkava Mark III and IV.
The thermal sight for the gunner's EMES 15 primary sight was not ready during production of the first batch, though all vehicles were prepared to be so equipped at a later stage. To provide an improvised night fighting capability for first batch vehicles, the Panzer-Ziel-und-Beobachtungsgerät (PZB) 200ow light TV system (LLLTV) was temporarily fitted to 200 Leopard 2 The EMES 15/FLT-2 fire control system consists of:
- gunner's primary sight with mirror stabilized in azimuth and elevation
- laser transmitter and receiver
- thermal imaging system and eye piece assembly
- commander's and gunner's control units
- commander's display unit
- computer control unit
- commander's joy-stick hand control
- digital ballistic computer, which calculates the relevant data for a firing solution
- cross wind velocity sensor (first batch only)
- gun elevation sensor
- laser electronics box
- cant angle sensor
- interconnecting cable set
Two SEM 25/SEM35 radio sets are fitted behind the commander in the rear right of the turret bustle. The radio antennae are mounted to the left and right behind crew stations.
In a modern world the pressure for modernization is a matter of course, but in the field of military technology it is a bitter reality. With the appearence of modern and capable Soviet tanks such as the T-64 B and T-80 B, equipped with a high-performance 125 mm smoothbore gun capable of firing guided missiles, the development of an even better Leopard 2 was demanded. However, cooperation between nations over their tank industries can be difficult. After the cancellation of a joint French-German tank development project in November 1982, Germany extended the concept phase for a Leopard 3 in March 1983 to last until 1996. Several alternatives had to be examined, including production of additional Leopard 2, improvement of the Leopard 2, development of a new turret for the Leopard 2 with a crew of four or with a crew of three with an automatic loader, or still the development of an entirely new hull and turret.
The development of improved components for the Leopard 2 was finally favoured, and in 1989 the Leopard 2 KVT (Komponentenversuchsträger - component trial vehicle) was built and tested. This vehicle was fitted with additional armor, spall liners in the fighting compartment, a new electrically-driven sliding hatch for the driver, new hatches for the commander and loader, and increased reactive and passive armor on the turret roof. The EMES-15 was raised and received an armored housing, and the PERI-17, now including an independent thermal sight channel, was relocated to the left rear of the commander's section. This prototype had a total weight of 60,500 kg. After the trials, this vehicle was converted into the IVT (Instrumentenversuchsträger - experimental vehicle for instruments) and joined the IFIS (integrated command and information system) development program carried out between 1988 and 1992, which researched in cooperation with the US the more efficient way to the management and use of gathered information. After evaluation of the development tests with with the KVT, two prototypes were built in 1991 by Krauss-Maffei for the improvement program, known as KWS.
The overwhelming political changes within the Eastern Block, and the resulting decreasing defense budgets definitely modified the improvement program. An alternative improvement program was initiated, divided into three stages, and known as KWS I, KWS II, and KWS III (the Roman numerals do not denote chronological order).
Leopard2A6 - KWS I
A Leopard2A6 of the German Army,crossing a River
The Leopard 2 A6 is protected by third generation composite armor, with the additional reinforcement to the turret frontal and lateral armor with externally mounted add-on armor modules. In the event of weapon penetration through the armour, a spall liner reduces the number of fragments and narrows the fragment cone. The spall liner also provides noise and thermal insulation. The reinforcement provides protection against multiple strike, kinetic energy rounds and shaped charges.
The Leopard 2 A6 is one of the best protected main battle tanks in the world,with the same Protection Level against KE like the U.S. M1A2 SEP,but far more Protection against CE.
The Leopard2A6 also use the new Rheinmetall L55 Gun,the Gun is 1.30Metres longer as the older L44 is.The longer barrel give it higher Range,Firepower and Accuracy.
The new Gun is 23,5% Longer as the L44,but have 33% more Firepower.
Here you can see the difference between the L44 and the L55 Gun
Same caliber of 120Mm,but 11 caliber lenghts more (1.30Metres)
A Canadian Leopard2A6M in Afghanistan,it also use those Add-on Armor against RPG's and is equipped with the Anti Mine Package
The Leopard2A6M use the Anti Mine Package,it was also tested Succesfull by the German Army.
It first Combat it hat in Afghanistan with the Canadian Army,when one Leopard2A6M drove about a IED Field.
The Tank had no Damage on his Armor,the Anti Mine Package worked as it should.
A Canadian officer send in an email to German defence officials :“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.”
Leopard2A6EX aka HEL
The Leopard2A6EX,buyed by the Hellenic Army which call it Leopard2A6HEL
The Leopard2A6EX was a special made Leopard2A6,with better frontal Armor and better Hull Armor.
Equipped with the L55 Gun it is one of the most powerful Tanks in the World.
The new Armor give it better Protection against Top Attack Missiles (Like the American Javelin).
But it is not equipped with the Anti Mine Package
The Leopard2A6E showing it's firepower!
The Leopard2A6E (E for Espania) is the Spanish version of the Leopard2A6.With a special Suspension.
It is equipped with the L55 Gun,but like the Leopard2A6 HEL not with the Anti Mine Package.
The Stridsvagn 122B with the Rheinmetall L55 Gun,it is also equipped with ERA Armor at the Front,more in the Text.
The Stridsvagn 122 is the swedish Version of the Leopard2A5 and A6.
With ERA Add-on Armor,which give it more Protection as the Leopard2A6 have and the L55 Gun it is arguably the best Version of the Leopard2.And it use the Anti Mine Package
ERA stands for Explosiv Reactiv Armor,first used by the Russian Army,many Countrie's use ERA (Israel,Sweden,South-Korea,Russia,China,USA and arguably Pakistan and India).
ERA give more Protection against KE and CE.
Leopard 2 PSO Technology Demonstrator - New threats call for new responses.
The political security situation of the 21st century has changed from what it was. The world is no longer divided into east and west, the German armed forces and their allies in NATO are no longer just there to deal with the war on two fronts and the potential enemy has become militarily unpredictable. Today conflicts are spread around the globe, are usually confined to regions and are often the result of states collapsing politically. The threat does not necessarily come from an army; it could come from organized fundamentalists, terrorists and even from individuals. For peacemaking and peacekeeping deployments, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is designing the LEOPARD 2 for Peace Support Operations (PSO). Military assertiveness and sustainability, highly mobile and extremely well protected, it is a tank that is also suitable for use against single targets and optimally so in both built-up and non-built-up terrain. KMW will be presenting the first demo LEOPARD 2 PSO - mainly financed from its own funds - at the 2006 Eurosatory.
The Leopard2A7+,the most advanced Version of the Leopard2 and also the best protected.
The Leopard2A7+ is a mix between the Leopard2A6M,Stridsvagn 122 and Leopard2 PSO.
Equipped with the L55 Gun,new Armor (arguably ERA+NERA,NERA is Non Explosive Reactive Armor,far better as ERA is),the Shield of the Leopard2 PSO,the anti mine package of the Leopard2A6M and the Stridsvagn 122 and it is the first Leopard with equipped Active Protection System (Arguably AMAD-ADS).
With new Gunner and Commander Visionsystems,a 360° Camerasystem,new Suspension.
1 Prototyp is build,but not Pictures aviable.The Picture at the Top is animated.
It also have a 40mm granate launcher.
MTU MB 873 12-Cylinder-Diesel 1103 kW (1500 HP) is one of the best Tank engines in the World.
The 1500HP Engine give the Tank a great Power to Weight Ratio of 24,2Horse Power per Ton.
Used by the Korean Army in their K1,K1A1 and K2 Tanks,it is also in build in the Israeli Merkava Mark IV.
It give the Tank a maximum Range of 550Km,for a Tank at this weight,its very High!
If the Engine Burn due to a Hit or an Failure,it have a self gushing system.
The Leopard2 is one of the most Powerfull Tanks in the World.
It can fire Anti Tank Guided Missiles,High Explosive Anti Tank and Kinetic Energy Rounds.
Here are the Informations of the Rounds:
L44 120mm DM-13 390mm at 2km,430mm at 1km (1979)
L44 120mm DM-23 470mm at 2km,500mm at 1km (1983)
L44 120mm DM-33 550mm at 2km,585mm at 1km (1987)
L44 120mm DM-43 590mm at 2km,640mm at 1km (1994)
L44 120mm DM-53 700mm at 2km,750mm at 1km (1996)
L55 120mm DM-53 810mm at 2km,860mm at 1km (2001)
L44 120mm DM-63 750mm at 2km,790mm at 1km (2006)
L55 120mm DM-63 810mm at 2km,860mm at 1km (2006)
L55 HEAT N/A
L44 HEAT N/A
|LEOPARD 2A6 MAIN BATTLE TANK - SPECIFICATIONS|
|Weight||62 metric tons|
|Armament||1 x Rheinmetall 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun|
|1 x coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun|
|1 x 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun|
|Maximum speed||72 km/h|
|Maximum range||500 km|
|Powerplant||MTU MB 873 multi-fuel, 1500 hp|
|Transmission||Renk HSWL 354|
|Gunner's sight||Rheinmetall Defence Electronics EMES 15 with thermal channel and laser rangefinder|
|Commander's sight||Rheinmetall Defence Electronics PERI-R17A2 with thermal channel|
Almost all versions of the Leopard2 have other protection levels,here is the list of the "official" protection levels
Tank vs KE (mm) vs CE (mm)
Leopard 2A1-A3 Turret: 550 Turret: 810
Glacis: 350 Glacis:520
Lower front hull: 350 Lower front hull: 520
Leopard 2A4 Turret: 590-690 Turret: 810-1290
Lower front hull:600 Lower front hull:710
Leopard 2A5 Turret: 850-930 Turret: 1730-1960
Lower front hull:620 Lower front hull:750
Leopard2A6 Turret: 920-940 Turret: 1850-2055
Glacis: 620 Glacis: 780
Lower front hull:620 Lower front hull:780
Leopard2A6EX Turret: 940-980 Turret: 1890-2100
Glacis: 660 Glacis: 810
Lower front hull:660 Lower front hull:810
Stridsvagn 122 Front at all:700-1100 Front at all: 840-2200