Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank (Germany)The development of the Leopard 1 originates from the decision to formulate an operational requirement for a new main battle tank (MBT) to replace the M47 and M48 tanks supplied by the United States that were both available in quantity and relatively cheap. The M47 however, was very much an interim design, a fact that even the US Army had recognised as the vast majority of M47 tanks were exported. The operational requirement was finalised in 1957 for a 30-ton MBT with a power-to-weight ratio of 30 hp/tonne, and air-cooled multi-fuel engine, either torsion bar or hydro-pneumatic suspension, a width (overall) that should not exceed 3150mm, sufficient armour to withstand close range hits from 20mm shells and have a main gun that could penetrate 150mm of sloped armour. The design programme commenced with France and Germany signing a co-operative agreement to develop a common tank, and were joined in 1958 by Italy. Three design teams (two German and one French) began work on the design and the first wooden mock-ups were completed in 1959, followed by the first prototypes in 1961. Rheinmetall had tried to develop an indigenous 105mm to replace the 90mm gun used in the original designs. However, the excellent British 105mm L7 rifled gun (which was fitted to the Centurion and M60 tanks and retrofitted to the M48) was already available and the programme was dropped for sound cost and logistical reasons. Late in 1962, 1,500 105mm L7 guns were purchased for the new tank and small adjustments were necessary (such as sloping the gun breech to meet the requirement of a main gun depression angle of 9 degrees) with the modified gun being designated L7A3. Competitive trials between the early prototypes led to the A I (Team A, Number 1) design being chosen for further development, the B I (Team B, Number 1) design having been delayed until September 1961 while the Team ironed out the problems with a number of the complex components. The improvements suggested in the trials were incorporated into the enhanced design (A II - known internally to the design team as Porschetyp 773). Armour protection was increased, as was the overall width to accommodate a new Mercedes-Benz MB 838 ten-cylinder mutli-fuel engine (830hp) and slight revisions of the chassis and internal layout increased the total weight to 36.2 tonnes. The A II had a revised Wegmann-Rheinmetall turret which were equipped with the 105mm L7A3 gun and a ranging machine-gun instead of the coincidence rangefinder. The design was evaluated at Panzer-Lehrbataillon (tank training battalion) 93 attached to the Kampftruppenschule 2 (the German armour school in Munster) and the coincidence rangefinder was reinstated. The French in the meanwhile were working on their prototype of the AMX-30 at the Atelier de Construction d'Issy-les-Moulineaux. Fifty A II tanks were ordered for trials and were built by MaK (16), Luther & Jordan (17) and Jung-Jungenthal (17). These trials and acceptance tests were conducted in June 1963 and comparision tests between the French and German prototypes were conducted between August and October 1963 at the Mailly de Camp, Bourges and Satory (France), transferring to Meppen (Germany). The trials were conducted under Italian supervision. The German tank had the edge over the French tank, but an abrupt change in defence policy meat that the French would be unable to buy any new tanks before 1965 which brought an end to joint development work. Both countries decided to pursue a national development and procurement programme, with the Italians deciding to buy the American M60. On the 1 October 1963, the tank was named 'Leopard', appropriate given Germany's wartime tanks, the Panther and Tiger. Unit trials were carried out in late 1964 and early 1965 at Munster. The design was vindicated in the trials and the tank was accepted for service with the initial full-scale production of 1,500 Leopards commencing in 1965. The Leopard 1 was built in a total of six batches ('Lots') by Krauss-Maffei AG in Munich with a number of tanks being built by Krupp MaK in Kiel as well. The first production batch of Leopard 1s (numbering 500 vehicles built between September 1965 and July 1966, Fahrgestell Nr. 5001 - 5999) replaced the ageing M47 tanks in the German I Corps. The second production batch (with minor revisions) of 600 tanks was built between July 1966 and July 1967 (Fahrgestall Nr. 6001 - 6999) and delivered to the German I and III Corps. The third batch (again with a few minor revisions) was built between July 1967 and August 1968 (Fahrgestall Nr. 7001 - 7999) and numbered 500 tanks. They were also delivered to the German I and III Corps. The fourth batch included vehicles that were designated for export. The Fahrgestall Nr. were 8001 - 8999 for the Bundeswehr vehicles and 12001 - 12999 and 13001 - 13999 for the export models. In 1970 a modernisation programme was started to enhance the combat effectiveness of the current fleet. This included improvements to the fire control system, full stabilisation and thermal sleeve for the main gun, side-skirts, new tracks, a new snorkel for deeper fording and passive image intensification. The designation was revised to Leopard 1 A1.
The Leopard 1 A1 has an all-welded steel hull. The driver is located on the front right of the hull and has a single-piece hatch with three periscopes, the centre one of which can be replaced by an image intensification unit. The turret is of all-cast steel armour and has the commander and gunner on the right with the loader on the left. The commander has eight periscopes for all-round observation, one of which can be replace with an image intensification unit, the gunner has the main sight and a single periscope and the loader two periscopes. A TRP 2A zoom periscope is mounted in front of the commander's hatch and has magnifications of x 4 and up to x 20. The gunner has a TEM 2A rangefinder that can be used in stereoscopic or coincidence modes. It has a magnification of x 16 and is mechanically linked to the main gun. The gunner also has a TFZ 1A telescope mounted coaxially with the main gun that has a magnification of x 8. Above the main armament is a XSW-30-U infra-red / white searchlight which can be stored at the rear of the turret when not required. The engine is housed behind a fireproof bulkhead and is a MTU MB 838 CaM-500 10-cylinder multi-fuel unit developing 830hp at 2,200rpm. There are seven rubber-tyred road wheels with an idler at the front, drive wheel at the rear and four track-return rollers. The first, second, third, sixth and seventh road wheel stations have hydraulic shock absorbers. The steel reinforced rubber skirts increase ballistic protection against HEAT warheads and mitigate the dust cloud that sometimes arises when a vehicle is on the move. The Leopard 1 has an NBC system of an overpressure type and also mounts an automatic fire control system, heater and hull escape hatch. The Leopard 1 can ford to a depth of four metres. The main armament consists of the widely used British 105mm L7A3 rifled tank gun and can fire all standard 105mm tank rounds produced by the UK, USA, Israel, France, Germany and Canada. The 1 A1 carries sixty rounds with forty-two in the hull and eighteen in the turret. According to Krauss-Maffei, the first round hit probability was significantly increased by the fitting of the Krupp-Atlas fire control system. These 1 A1A1 and 1 A1A2 tanks were redesignated 1 A5 (as mentioned later). A 7.62mm MG3 machine-gun (based on the excellent wartime MG42) is mounted coaxially with the main armament and another is mounted on the turret roof for air defence. The tank carries some 5,000 rounds of ammunition for these weapons. It also has four 76mm smoke grenade dischargers mounted on either side of the turret.
The fifth batch of Leopards was built between 1972 and 1974 and included 232 tanks with a cast steel turret with thicker armour (designated 1 A2) and 110 tanks fitted with a welded turret with spaced armour and a wedge-shaped gun mantlet (designated 1 A3). The 1 A2 tanks mainly went to the 6th Panzer Division, which was based in Schleswig-Holstein and trained with the Danish Army. The 1 A3 tanks mainly went to the 10th and 12th Panzer Divisions. The 1A2 / 1A3 had Fahrgestell Nr. 14001 - 14999. The combat weight had risen to 42.4 tonnes. The sixth and final batch were delivered in 1974 and were designated the Leopard 1 A4. This version had the turret from the 1 A3 but received a new integrated fire control system which included the PERI R12 stabilised sight for the commander, EMES 12A1 stereoscopic rangefinder and ballistic computer for the gunner. The new system took up extra space in the turret and so the ammunition load was reduced to 55 rounds with thirteen rounds in the turret. A second round of modernisation occurred between 1975 and 1977 with all those tanks from the first and fourth batches being retrofitted with extra armour from Blohm and Voss, wedged shape gun mantlet and new air intake filters. The designation was changed from 1A1 to 1 A1A1. From 1980 the PZB 200 passive image intensification system entered service with the Bundeswehr and when the Leopard 2 received their thermal imagining system, a significant number of Leopard 1s were fitted with the cast off PZB 200s. Those tanks in the first to fourth batches (1 A1A1) that received them were redesignated 1 A1A2 while those in the fifth batch were redesignated A2A1 (cast turret) and A3A1 (welded turret). No sixth batch tanks received the PZB 200, and these were eventually phased out of service. In the mid-1980s a major upgrade programme for the Leopard 1 was introduced to give it a better chance in taking on the more modern Soviet tanks that had been appearing for sometime (T-64B, T-72B, T-72M1 and T-80B). It was decided that the Leopard 1 would receive a new fire control system (the Krupp-Atlas Elektronik EMES 18 which incorporated a thermal imaging system, laser rangefinder and ballistic computer), new ammunition and a strengthened torsion bar suspension system and shock absorber mountings. In the end, some 1,225 tanks from the first to fourth batches (Leopard 1 A1A1) would be converted, starting in 1987 and the new tank would be designated Leopard 1 A5. The tank was also fitted with a new servo-hydraulic turret control system by SRK. Following this, all Leopard 1s received the new SEM 80 / 90 digital VHF radio. This necessitated a new set of designators, the progression of which are listed below:
|Batch||Original Designation||Early 1970s/ 1st Mod||Late 1970s/ 2nd Mod||1980 PZB 200||1980s Upgrade||SEM 80/90 Radio|
|1-4||1||1 A1||1 A1A1||1 A1A1|
|5 (cast)||-||1 A2||-||1 A2|
|5 (welded)||-||1 A3||-||1 A3|
|6||-||1 A4||-||Phased out|
The Leopard 1 was been exported widely and is in service with Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Norway and Turkey. The Netherlands has withdrawn it from service (having bought the Leopard 2 as a replacement) and has passed a number to Greece and Chile. Germany still has some 500 tanks in service, mainly in eastern Germany (the former GDR) with the rest being passed to other countries including Norway (92), Turkey (230), Greece (245) and Denmark (110). All have minor modifications to suit local conditions, for example the Belgium Leopards had the MG3 machine guns replaced with the 7.62mm FN MAG machine gun and the SABCA Fire Control System (adopted by Australia and Canada too). In 1996 Canada decided to perform a major upgrade of their fleet which entailed the fitting of the complete 1 A5 turret by the German company GLS, a subsidiary of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. There are armoured recovery, armoured engineer, bridgelayer, driver training, armoured combat engineer vehicle and Gepard air defence vehicle versions.
(1 A1A1) Hull length: 7.09m. Hull width: 3.41m. Height: 2.76m. Crew: 4. Ground Clearance: 0.44m. Weight: 42,400kg (combat). Ground pressure: 0.88kg/sq.cm. Max speed: 65km/h. Max range (internal fuel): 600km (on road). Armament: 105mm L7A3 rifled gun, 1 x 7.62mm MG3 machine gun coaxial, 1 x 7.62mm MG3 machine gun mounted on turret roof.
Foss, Christopher. 'Leopard wins Greek tank shoot-out' in Jane's Defence Weekly, 31 May 2000, p. 3.
Foss, Christopher. 'Spain selects 120mm L/55 gun to arm its MBTs' in Jane's Defence Weekly, 1 December 1999, p. 12.
Main Battle Tank Development Concept Of German Army (Part 1)
In recent years, the leading military and economic powers of NATO have increased their activities in analysing possible directions for the development and use of the combat vehicle arsenal (CVA) of the ground forces in future wars. For this purpose, the experience of combat application of such equipment in past wars is studies and generalised, new tactical methods for conducting CVA combat operations in open terrain and in urban conditions with complex infrastructure, including the joint use of robotic complexes, and various options for the modernisation of armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) are developed.
A characteristic feature of the activities carried out at the present stage is the transition from theoretical research, which was started in certain areas in the 1990s, to the practical implementation of many complex and expensive programmes for the development and modernisation of CVAs. Some of this work has already moved from the field of R&D to the creation of experimental and demonstration models, and in some cases, to serial machines. In the course of research work on CVA samples, modern technologies are being introduced to increase their combat capabilities.
Materials published abroad today on current trends in the development and application of CVAs present a wide range of views, sometimes contradictory, both by the leadership and the military-industrial complex (MIC) of the Alliance countries and individual authors.
For example, some foreign experts identify in these publications the following fundamental provisions that will have a decisive influence on the reforms being carried out of the ground forces and the direction of further improving the combat effectiveness of the CVAs: “in the wars of the future, mass use of tanks is not expected” but at the same time, it is believed that “mass use of tanks, AIFVs, APCs are not excluded when performing certain tactical tasks, for example, when attacking poorly prepared anti-tank defences” further, experts say that “large-scale tank battles are no longer intended to play a decisive role for a positive outcome of a ground operation” “the time of mass tank battles in open terrain has passed, and in the future we should expect the use of tanks mainly in operations in urban conditions.
This will require improvement of both the design of combat vehicles and the tactics of their use” “the main use of tank units of the ground forces will be time-limited operations, involving rapidly changing ways of conducting combat operations, decisive manoeuvres by forces and means of the modular organisational structure of the military formations in close cooperation with units of other arms and services of the armed forces”.
At present, the above views have not yet been widely adopted in all NATO countries, but they have already been reflected in a number of military doctrines and policy documents of some European states, which have become the basis for reforming the basic provisions of the concept of developing the weapons systems of the ground forces of these states.
The concept of development of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) was particularly deeply affected by ground forces reform processes. The number of heavy armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) in the forces of many NATO member countries has become noticeably reduced, and despite numerous statements by foreign experts that “MBTs will remain in service with the Alliance until 2045-2050”, their modernisation programme has become sidelined, and work on creating a new generation of tanks in most of these countries has been completely frozen.
The dominant position in almost all foreign countries during this period was assigned to programmes for the development and production of light combat weight (up to 30 tons) and medium (30 to 40 tons) tracked and wheeled AFVs.
When equipping such combat vehicles, preference was given to powerful cannon and rocket weapons that could provide both fire support for existing infantry units and combat armoured targets and fortified ground structures.
Work priority areas were the development and improvement of AFVs, which are intended for use in localities as part of peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations. It is characteristic that in such NATO countries as France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, a bid was made to equip the ground forces mainly with wheeled light and medium-weight AFVs (AIFV, APC, ARV), as well as tank support vehicles and other combat equipment based on them. However, in other participating countries (USA, Germany, Great Britain), they try not to give such preferences to the wheelbase and develop both tracked and wheeled versions of the AFVs.
The German military leadership, as follows from the publications of foreign military media, actively supports the reform of its ground forces, including the transformation of the CVA system. The directive document “Main Directions of German Defence Policy”, approved by the government in May 2011, continues to have a significant influence on the formation of new views. In this document, in particular, it is noted that “an armed attack on the territory of the country in the near future should be considered unlikely.
The most important task of the German ground forces at the present stage is to participate in operations for the crisis settlement of the international situation”. This document has more than once had a decisive impact on the level of funding for the development and production of armoured and tank weapons and equipment at enterprises in the country, for example, in the case of allocation of quite significant amount of funds intended for R&D, carried out in order to modernise the existing fleet of armoured vehicles and the development of a new generation of AFVs.
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The following works are planned for the near future:
- replacing the fleet of outdated MBTs with modernised ones (Leopard-2A7/A8) (it is expected that by 2019, the tank battalions and motorised infantry brigades will have 232 Leopard-2A7 tanks, but the ground forces command has already made an additional request for another 84 such vehicles)
- development of new models of CVAs that meet the nature of content of future wars to a greater extent that before (within the framework of these R&D, the creation of a number of modifications continues: AIFV Puma, the APC Boxer, the ARV Fennek, the ACV Wiesel), as well as work on the creation of a new generation of MBTs, called the Leopard-3 (third series), and other types of tanks
- the application of fundamentally new technologies and promising materials for the development and modernisation of the components of the existing and future CVA fleet.
A distinctive feature of the current stage of development of the German CVA from other NATO countries was the work on the creation of a new generation of MBT. Previously, the solution to this problem did not go beyond R&D, sketching and technical design. Experts explained this by the fact that in the course of the work carried out quite a powerful potential for the creation of a new generation tank was created, but due to the foreign policy conditions in the world at that time, as well as for economic and other erasons the decision on this complex and expensive issue was temporarily postponed, and more attention was paid to the priority development at that time.
An important reason was also the conceptual uncertainty of design features depending on the intended nature and content of future wars, as well as the choice of rational directions for the development of a new generation of MBTs in these conditions.
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In recent years, the relevance of such work has increased due to the appearance of the Russian high-tech, highly secure and equipped with the latest generation of onboard electronic equipment T-14 Armata and modernised T-90 tanks in the proposed theaters of military operations.
Currently, German military experts argue that the technical appearance of the Leopard-2 tank and is main combat properties at the time of its creation were optimised in advance to solve problems in a large-scale war. But to use it in local wars and armed conflicts, in urban combat or in the fight against terrorist groups and organisations, it is necessary to adjust individual combat properties and specify a number of TTCs.
For these reasons, the German Ministry of Defence has put forward for specialists in the MIC and firms – manufacturers of equipment requirements to improve the MBT development concept and to study the feasibility of creating specialised types of CVAs, such as a tracked tank support vehicle (TTSV, which is currently in the technical design stage, can be created on the basis of the Leopard-2 tank, options for its development are being considered on the basis of the Puma and Marder AIFV), a wheeled TTSV (which is at the stage of creating a prototype, is being developed on the basis of the APC Boxer with a turret, weapons and instrument complex from the Puma AIFV, it is possible to adopt for service by 2024) a vehicle for urban combat (at the stage of creating a prototype, the layout is based on the American 155-mm self-propelled howitzer M109, but with a Swiss 120-mm gun), a medium tank (at the stage of demonstrating a pre-production model, created on the basis on the modernised AIFV Marder with a 105-mm standard NATO gun). Work is underway to evaluate the effectiveness of these new types of ACVs in future wars on simulation models and experimental exercises.
The military conflicts of recent years have convincingly proved that an enemy equipped with modern and fairly effective anti-tank weapons acts against tanks both in open areas and in urban conditions. In these conditions, the MBT and other armoured vehicles (AIFVs, APCs) are “…unsuitable for such scenarios of combat use and do not provide the required protection for the crew”.
Most operations conducted in urban environments resulted in large irretrievable losses of tanks, AIFVs and personnel, even if these AIFVs were equipped with equipment aimed at improving the effectiveness of their use for urban combat.
According to German military experts, currently the country’s ground forces do not have a universal combat vehicle (including the Leopard-2 MBT and the Puma ARV) for conducting offensive operations both in open terrain and in urban conditions, when the enemy has a large number and variety of reconnaissance and anti-tank weapons, has wide opportunities for maneuvering fire and movement, is protected by walls of city buildings and field fortifications.
In addition, after an analysis of existing urban warfare in other states with the use of armed forces, developers were required to equip AFVs with special weapons and ammunition in order to minimise the destruction of urban infrastructures.
Consequently, a number of comprehensive R&D activities are planned in Germany, aimed at creating innovative technologies for the CVA of the future. In April 2017, the commander of the German ground forces, Lieutenant General J. Vollmer in the conversation “About the future of the German ground forces”, said to the correspondent of the magazine “Military Technology” that in the long-term, in the interests the armoured and tank weapons and systems, scientific research has been directed at creating high-energy laser and electromagnetic weapons of high power, the main ground combat system, protective nanosteel and nanocomposite materials, ground-based robotics, active and passive protection systems, powerful generators and more.
It should be noted that attempts to create a new generation of CVAs have been made in the leading NATO countries many times over the past few decades, but due to the lack of relevance of projects, the appearance of other higher-priority works, or as a result of changes in the military-political situation in the world and insufficient funding, most projects have remained unrealized.
For these reasons, the full technical profile of the new generation of MBT has not yet been finalised in any of the participating countries.
It is known that for the development of a new tank, the ground forces command and the management of the German machine-tool companies plan to use a significant scientific and technical reserve that was created in previous years. In the period from 1980 to 2018, more than a dozen projects were developed in the country to modernise tanks and create a new generation of MBTs, which reflected the following main concepts.
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First, assumed an evolutionary path of development of the existing tank of the Leopard-2 series, based on industrially developed technologies and partially on new ones.
This concept has consistently led to the creation of more and more advanced modifications.
Second, it provided for the creation of a new generation of MBTs, based mainly on newly developed and partially on existing technologies. In accordance with these concepts, projects for the creation of the Leopard 2A8 MBT and the new Leopard-3 series are currently under development.
MBT Leopard 2A8. The decision to release a new modification of the tank, which received the designation Leopard 2A8 (in some sources, the tank is designated as Leopard-2A7V), was made by the command of the German army and the management of KMW in 2013.
Several versions of layout solutions were worked out: on the basis of modifications of the A7 and A7+ tanks, as well as on the basis of the demonstration model of the Leopard-2 Revolution tank.
The versions differ from each other mainly by the armouring schemes. Deliveries of serial Leopard 2A8 tanks to the troops are planned to be carried out in stages until 2025.
It is expected that in the next five to seven years 104 Leopard-2 tanks will be upgraded to the A8 (A7V) standard, of which 68 are Leopard-2A4, 16 are 2A6 series and 20 are 2A7. According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the upgrade package together with additional services will amount to 118 million euros. One Leopard 2A8 tank is estimated by experts at the level of 8-8.5 million dollars. Small-scale production of its foreign counterpart, the American M1A2 SEP V3 tank, will amount to 8.5-9 million dollars.
The relatively high costs of MBT development has become currently one of the main limiting factors for their mass production. Small annual production volumes of new and modernisation of existing machines (not more than 10-20 tanks per year) reflects the general trend of CVA development of leading NATO countries and testify how the technical difficulties and high costs of using particular technologies, and the insufficient funding of the development programmes, so the leadership of the MIC of NATO countries invests more not in production but in the development of innovative technologies to ensure the future creation of a new generation of CVAs in the short term.
For example, due to the high cost of work associated with the use of new technologies, only 30 tanks out of 100 A8 modifications are planned to strengthen the anti-mine protection of the sides and bottom of the hull. Earlier it was reported that the troops already have 70 Leopard-2A6M MBTs with similar design improvements. Moreover, for economic reasons, it was decided to postpone until 2020 the implementation of a set of measures aimed at improving the effectiveness of the use of Leopard 2A8 tanks in urban areas.
Foreign information materials indicate that the Leopard 2A8 tank is planned to be created as a universal combat vehicle intended for use in high-intensity conflicts (large-scale war), in local wars, peacekeeping, anti-terrorist and special operations.
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Modifications of the A7 and A8 tanks are planned to remain in the military until 2035-2040. German experts see the feasibility of such a decision in the fact that it will require a long-term in-depth study of individual technologies for a new promising tank. Under the current conditions, the development of the A8 modification will ensure that the Leopard-2 TTC is maintained at the required level for the specified period of time, and the designers will be provided with the necessary reserve of time to solve complex and knowledge-intensive tasks when creating new technologies.
The Main directions of improving the combat capabilities of the Leopard 2A8 MBT. The R&D directions taken in order to create the A8 modifications give the following ideas of its tactical and technical characteristics.
The combat weight is 63 to 67 tons, crew of 4 people. Layout of all compartments (combat, control, engine and transmission) with minimal changes in the design of the hull and turret, compared to the Leopard 2A7 series tank.
The specific capacity is 22.4-23.8 HP/t with an MTU engine with a capacity of at least 1,500 HP.
The vehicle is planned to be adapted as much as possible to conduct combat operations both in open terrain and in urban conditions. To maintain the TTC of such a vehicle at the required level until 2035-2040, it is planned to conduct a number of complex R&D aimed at developing its combat properties, namely: firepower, security, mobility, command manageability.
Fire power. Several options for the tank cannon armament are under development: first – with a 120-mm cannon with a shortened barrel (L44) which meets the increasing demands of warfare in an urban environment second – with a 120-mm (L55A1) smoothbore gun of the Rheinmetall company, which allows the new tanks to be equipped with the sub-calibre armour-piercing projectile KE2020, which is to enter into service by 2022 third – with a 130-mm (L51) smooth-bore gun (from the same company), which is planned to be installed on upgraded models after 2020. The decision to equip the tank with guided weapons is expected to be made after receiving the results of complex fire tests of the 130-mm gun.
All Leopard 2A8 tanks will be equipped with a remote detonation system and multi-functional programming of the 120-mm high-explosive DM12 projectile response time, which will allow these projectiles to be used against bunkers and heavily fortified field structures. This system will also be used to fight helicopters, infantry in open terrain and lightly armoured targets.
More than 2,500 such shells have already been ordered. In addition, all A8 tanks will be able to use DM11 high-explosive shells with a programmable fuse. The DM63 remains the main armour-piercing sub-calibre projectile. The use of the DM12 shells and the advanced fire control system (AFCS) increases the firepower of the tank, especially when firing at enemy infantry in shelters.
It is also planned to finally switch to the use of electronic panoramic surveillance system “through the armour”, when the display of the surrounding space around the machine will take place on the screens of panoramic monitors installed at the crew workstations.
The vehicle commander workstation is planned to be equipped with a new stabilised panoramic sight RTWL-B of the Karl Zeiss company. It has the same design and characteristics as the sight on the German AIFV Puma.
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The scope kit includes an ATTICA thermal imaging device with day and night thermal imaging channels of the third generation, a laser rangefinder and a day-vision television camera.
The commander’s sight can be used with the upgraded EMESs gunner’s sight, which will provide the crew with high search and strike capabilities when firing from the tank when stationary and on the move.
The detection range of ground and air targets is planned to be increased to 5,000 m. A two-channel SPECTUS periscope viewing system will be installed in place of the driver-mechanic, which will combine two channels (visual and opto-electronic) in one observation channel. It is planned that all Leopard 2A8 tanks will be equipped with the automatic detection and tracking system AZEV (Reinmetall).
Protection. The tank is planned to be equipped with additional modular passive armour to strengthen the protection of the front sector of the hull and turret, as well as the sides and roof of the turret, the standard set of which will include protection of the bottom from mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In addition, lattice armour or light cellular packages will be installed to protect the aft part of the tower and the hull from rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades. This protection has already been tested in combat on Canadian and Danish Leopard-2 tanks in Afghanistan.
The protection of the Leopard 2A8 tank will be enhanced with new additional armour on top of the front part of the roof of the hull and turret. This version of tank protection has already been tested in combat conditions (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and, as tests have shown, provides a reduction in the damaging effect of manually operated and unguided anti-tank weapons launched from the upper floors and roofs of buildings.
To reduce the visibility of the tank in the parking lot and in motion, it is planned to include the improved camouflage thermal control system Barracuda from the Swedish company Saab in the equipment set of the vehicle.
Maneuverability. The power unit will probably remain unchanged, although the possibility of installing a new engine with a capacity of about 1,650 HP (at the R&D level) is being considered.
The power of the autonomous power auxiliary power plant (APP) of the company Steyer is planned to increase to 40-50 HP.
The tank will have a significantly improved chassis (reinforced torsion shafts, improved brakes, new tracks installed and upgraded hydraulic system for pulling tracks from the driver’s seat). In addition to providing improved mobility, the goal of these measures is to increase the potential for improving security through additional booking, which will lead to an increase in the combat weight of the vehicle to approximately 70-75 tons.
Command manageability. The tank will be equipped with an upgraded onboard information and control system, which will increase the level of automation and “intellectualisation” of combat and work processes that occur during firing, movement, as well as survivability and improve command management (especially inter-object interaction).
All crew displays are to display information from the standard battle control system. All electronic instruments and communication systems will be connected to each other via the CANBUS data bus, which will provide the crew the information on flat-panel displays installed at the commander’s, gunner’s and driver’s workstations.
How the Leopard 1 was born?
West Germany was accepted into NATO in 1955. The country had to develop new tank, and they worked closely with the French for a common battle tank that will justify tanks and make logistical sense to both nations and NATO. The two countries joined forces in 1956. Before the Leopard 1, the two countries used the Patton tank that was limited by the 90mm main gun armament. The new project was called “Standard-Panzer”. Germany provided a “wish list” of requirements in 1957, including the excellent British L7 105mm main gun, as well as standard NBS protection, excellent cross-country performance from a diesel engine, and resistance to 20mm ant-tank projectiles.
Three German companies were involved in the initial proposal and a single French company. In 1958, Italy joined the project
The first tank was produced in 1965 and entered service. Allied countries like Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Greece, Australia, and the Netherlands ordered units of the tank. The tank featured a German version of the revolutionary British L7 rifled gun. The main focus was on mobility and agility. The tank had a relatively light armor, but could reach 65 km/h.
Leopard 1 was used in the Bosnian War, the Turkey-Kurdish conflict, and the War in Afghanistan. Apart from these conflicts, the Leopard 1 has not seen much action.
Germany Delivers First Upgraded Leopard 2A4HU Main Battle Tanks to Hungary
The Hungarian armed forces have taken delivery of their first Leopard 2 tanks, which will be used for training. German Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn traveled to Hungary for the handover ceremony. They are designed to replace the Russian-made T-72 tanks that were previously used by the Hungarian Army. The Hungarian Ministry of Defense has signed a contract with Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann for 44 new Leopard 2A7+ main battle tanks and 24 PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. The contract is worth more than $565 million and included in addition 12 used Leopard 2 A4 tanks for training purposes. The new Leopard 2A7+ variant expected to be delivered to Hungary starting from 2023. Hungarian Armed Forces Leopard 2A4HU Main Battle Tank
The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s for the West German Army. The main battle tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. It is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon, and is powered by a V-12 twin-turbo diesel engine. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and 12 other European countries, as well as several non-European nations, including Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Singapore, and Turkey. There are two main development batches of the tank: the original models up to Leopard 2A4, which have vertically faced turret armour.
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 an improved turret with flat titanium/tungsten armour. The Leopard 2s were manufactured in eight batches between 1985 and 1992. All the older models were 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. Hungarian Armed Forces Leopard 2A4HU Main Battle Tank
The Leopard 2A7+ is designed to operate both in low intensity and 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. The modular armour’s system components were first used by Canada in Afghanistan. It can fire programmable HE munitions and the turret mounted MG3 has been replaced with a stabilised FLW 200 remotely controlled weapon station. The mobility, sustainability and situational awareness have also been improved. Hungarian Armed Forces Leopard 2A4HU Main Battle Tank
The CAFVS became the Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle Training Centre after the outbreak of war.
Vickers Valentine Mark VI
Canadian Production Valentine Mk VI
The first tanks fielded in Canada in the Second World War were sixteen Mark VI "Valentine" tanks. The Mark VI was a British design, built exclusively in Canada, and had a Browning machine gun in place of the British Besa model co-axial machine gun.
1917 Model Renault
The Canadian AFV Training Centre purchased 15 Renault tanks from the United States that were about to be sold for scrap. At right, Colonel F.F. Worthington is shown inspecting Renault FT light tanks supplied by the United States Army to the Canadian Armoured Fighting Vehicle Training Centre (Canadian Army Training Centres and Schools), Camp Borden, Ontario, Canada, October 1940.
An improved version of the Ram called the Grizzly was planned during 1942 very similar to the American M4 (see below), this vehicle would mount a 75mm or high velocity 76mm main armament. By mid-January 1943, an order for 80 percent of the materials needed to produce 1200 Grizzlies had been placed, with hopes that the vehicles would be assembled by February 1944. During the summer of 1943, however, discussions between Canadian and British authorities settled the matter of using U.S. Shermans for all four Canadian armoured brigades overseas (as well as the two armoured reconnaissance regiments, who would go into action outfitted as armoured regiments). Tank production in Canada was to shift to production of 50 Grizzlies per month (to a maximum of 250), and 150 Sexton self-propelled guns per month. The Grizzly was eventually abandoned as a medium tank and plans to convert the 250 chassis to self-propelled anti-aircraft guns was initiated 188 hulls were eventually built but decline in German air power led to the anticipated 360 vehicles not being needed. Few turrets were actually completed and none were ever used to engage a German aircraft. 3
Leopard 1 [ edit | edit source ]
The Leopard project started in November 1956 in order to develop a modern tank, the Standard-Panzer, to replace the Bundeswehr's United States-built M47 and M48 Patton tanks, which, though just delivered to West Germany's recently reconstituted army, were rapidly growing outdated. On 25 July 1957 the detailed specifications were released the new design needed to weigh no more than thirty metric tons, have a power-to-weight ratio of thirty horsepower per ton, be able to withstand hits by 20 mm rapid-fire guns on every side as well as operate in a battlefield contaminated with chemical weapons or radioactive fallout, the then-standard baseline for combat with the Warsaw Pact. In addition the main armament had to consist of a 105 mm caliber weapon (the new British L7A3 105 mm gun was selected), carrying at least as many rounds as current US tank designs. Mobility was the priority while firepower came second armour was seen as less essential, as it was believed no real protection against hollow charge weapons was possible anyway.
France was very interested in the design as its own AMX 50 project had just failed. In June 1957, West Germany and the French Fourth Republic signed an agreement to develop a common tank, designated in German Europa-Panzer. Three German (Arbeitsgruppe A, B and C) and one French design team would be included in a competition, with each team producing two prototypes each. In September, 1958 Italy joined the development program. Several prototypes were entered for testing in 1960. Among the prototypes were Porsche's Model 734 from team A, sporting a cast turret and that of team B (Rheinmetall) whose cast turret was somewhat higher. Team C from Borgward, designing a very futuristic tank, failed to have a prototype ready in time.
Even before these first prototypes were finished, it had (in 1959) been decided that a second phase with improved designs would be started: Team A had to build 26 phase II Prototypes for testing, team B six. Only two tanks of the required six would actually be constructed by team B.
The Porsche Prototype II was eventually selected as the winner of the contest in 1963 this didn't come as a surprise: it had already been decided in 1961 to build a preseries of fifty vehicles based on this design production of these was started that very year. This "0-series" was modified with a new cast turret and several hull changes to raise the rear deck to provide more room in the engine compartment, and move some of the radiators to the upper sides of the hull. Before mass production of the standard version started it was also decided to add an optical range-finding system for better long-range gunnery, which required the turret to be somewhat taller, and added "bumps" on either side of the turret to mount the optics for triangulation. In 1963 France and Germany had decided to each build their own tank Germany continued with the Leopard, while France built the similar AMX-30.
Production was set up at Krauss-Maffei of Munich from early 1964 onward, with deliveries of the first batch between September, 1965 and July, 1966. The Leopard was soon being purchased from Germany by a number of NATO members and other allies including in chronological order Belgium (1968), the Netherlands (1969), Norway (1970), Italy (1971), Denmark (1976), Australia (1976), Canada (1978), Turkey (1980) and Greece (1981). Germany has a strict export policy for military equipment Greece, Spain and Chile, while still dictatorships, purchased the French AMX-30.
Leopard 1A1 [ edit | edit source ]
After the first batch was delivered the next three batches were the Leopard 1A1 model, which included a new gun stabilization system from Cadillac-Gage, allowing the tank to fire effectively on the move. The 1A1 also added the now-famous "skirts" along the sides to protect the upper tracks, and a new thermal jacket on the gun barrel to control heating. A less important change was to use rectangular rubber blocks fastened to the treads with a single pin instead of the earlier two-pin "shaped" versions. The rubber blocks could be easily replaced with metal X-shaped crampons for movement on ice and snow in the winter.
Between 1974 and 1977 all of the machines in the first four batches were brought to the same Leopard 1A1A1 standard, and given additional turret armor developed by Blohm & Voss. A further upgrade in the 1980s added leftover image-intensifier night sights which were being handed down from the Leopard 2 as they were themselves upgraded. The PZB 200 image intensification system was mounted in a large box on the upper right of the gun, creating the Leopard 1A1A2. A further upgrade with SEM80/90 all-digital radios created the Leopard 1A1A3.
Leopard 1A2 [ edit | edit source ]
Leopard 1A2 crossing a river at night.
The first 232 tanks of the fifth production batch was delivered as the Leopard 1A2 between 1972 and 1974. The A2 included a heavier and better armored turret, and therefore did not receive the B&V armor add-ons as did the earlier machines. They did receive the other upgrades however—the Leopard 1A2A1 received the PZB 200, the Leopard 1A2A2 the digital radios, and the Leopard 1A2A3 got both.
Leopard 1A3 [ edit | edit source ]
The next 110 vehicles in the fifth batch were fitted with a new welded turret incorporating spaced armor and a wedge-shaped gun mantlet, creating the Leopard 1A3. Although the level of armor area density was equivalent to the A2's new welded version, the internal volume was increased by 1.2 m³ and the effective protection level was increased by half. The improved TRP 2A independent sight was installed for the commander. Upgrades were identical to the 1A2 models, the Leopard 1A3A1 with the night sights, Leopard 1A3A2 with the new radios, and the Leopard 1A3A3 with both.
Leopard 1A4 [ edit | edit source ]
The Leopard 1A4 formed the sixth batch of 250 vehicles, delivery starting in 1974. The 1A4 was externally similar to the 1A3, but included a new computerized fire control system and the new EMES 12A1 sighting system to aim it. In addition the commander was provided with his own independent night sighting system, the PERI R12. The new equipment used up space and the ammunition load was reduced to 55 rounds, of which 42 were stored in the magazine to the left of the driver.
Leopard 1A5 [ edit | edit source ]
In 1980 a research program was undertaken to study further improvements to the Leopard 1, providing it with a completely modern fire control system and fully effective night/bad-weather vision system. This was going to require even more room than the larger turret from the 1A3/1A4 models, so the decision was made to base the upgrades on the earlier models which were no longer competitive.
The resulting Leopard 1A5 was based on 1339 vehicles of the Leopard 1A1A1 model. The turrets were again modified for the 1A5, with a larger section at the back, both in order to store all of the new equipment, as well as to move more of the ammunition into the rear turret, as opposed to the left side of the driver where it had traditionally been stored. The storage locker extended the turret almost to the rear of the tank when the gun was facing forward. The new turret was also able to mount the newer 120 mm gun from the Leopard 2 if desired, although this option has not been used.
After trials the Krupp-Atlas Elektronik EMES 18 fire control system was selected in December 1983, developed from the EMES 15 used on the Leopard 2. The EMES 18 included two new sights on to the top of the turret, and no longer required the "bumps" as did the earlier optical systems. A crucial part of the upgrade was the introduction of more effective ammunition, including new APFSDS rounds.
The Leopard tank could also be fitted with bolt-on lexan armour panels, which have increased the effectiveness of the armour. These "modified" tanks have proved themselves in the field.
The first modified vehicle was delivered in early 1987. Since then almost all users of the Leopard 1 have also applied similar changes to their own vehicles, and in most ways the 1A5 can be considered the "standard" Leopard 1 today.
Leopard 1A6 [ edit | edit source ]
A single 1A1A1 was also modified with additional armor on the turret and had the 120 mm gun as the Leopard 1A6. The project was ended in 1987, as the Leopard 2 was in widespread service at this point and the 1A5 offered a reasonable upgrade path for a fraction of the cost.
Other modifications [ edit | edit source ]
Armoured engineering vehicle "Dachs" (Badger) German Army.
Bergepanzer 2 (Armoured recovery vehicle) GE Army.
Bridgelayer "Biber" (Beaver) with armored vehicle-launched bridge.
Simultaneous to the production of the battle tanks a number of engineering, bridging and recovery vehicles was developed, as well as a number of versions used in the anti-aircraft role.
In the Netherlands, there is an improved version equivalent to the A5 called "Leopard 1 Verbeterd" (improved), the same version is used by the Chilean Army.
The most well known Leopard variants are the Engineer Vehicle Bergepanzer and the Anti-Aircraft Gun Gepard. The equivalent of the Gepard is the ZSU-23-4. There was also a British SPAAG version called Leopard Marksman, which was equipped with the Marksman turret.
The Canadian Land Forces operate the Beaver bridgelayer, Taurus ARV, and Badger AEV, all based on the Leopard 1.
The United Kingdom's Royal Marines operate a vehicle known as the Hippo BARV (or Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle. The Hippo is a conversion by ALVIS Moelv of a Leopard 1A5 chassis. The main alteration has been the replacement of the turret with a raised superstructure which resembling the wheelhouse of a boat. The original 830 hp (634 kW) diesel engine has been retained but the gearing of the transmission had been lowered, reducing the vehicle's road speed to 32 km/h (20 mph), but increasing tractive effort to 250 kN (56,000 lbf). Other modifications include the addition of working platforms, a nosing block, raised air intakes and an Auxiliary power unit this has raised the weight of the vehicle from 42.5 tonnes to 50 tonnes. The Hippo has a fording depth of 2.95 m (10 ft) and can pull vehicles up to 50 tonnes weight or push off from the beach a 240 tonne displacement landing craft.
Gilded Leopard, Eber and Keiler [ edit | edit source ]
Almost as soon as the Leopard was introduced into service in 1965, Porsche was awarded a contract to study further improvements to the existing design, while waiting deliveries of the MBT-70 in the mid-1970s. This original Gilded Leopard (vergoldeter Leopard) program expired in 1967 with no production order. In that year it had already become obvious that the MBT-70 would be a failure. The agreement between the USA and the BRD forbade any national development of an MBT apart from technological experimentation, so a new tank project was begun under the designation of Experimentalentwicklung or "experimental development", two prototypes of which were built.
When the MBT-70 program was ended a further contract was offered under the name Boar (Eber), with an emphasis on using as many technologies from the MBT-70 as possible, but without the problematic combined gun - rocket launcher. Two prototype vehicles were constructed using a new chassis from Porsche with the road wheels from the MBT-70 and the original Leopard engine, combined with a new Wegmann turret mounting the MBT-70's Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun (although some also mounted the original 105 mm). These were considered promising enough that seven more were ordered, this time powered by the MTU engine designed for the MBT-70. When this happened the Experimentalentwicklung team went public with their alternative design which they called the Keiler (a synonym of Eber). In 1971 the minister of defence, Helmut Schmidt, decided to abandon the Eber-project and build seventeen prototypes of a Leopard 2, based on the Keiler design, which had a turret with spaced sloped armour. The maximum weight was to be fifty metric tons.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1950s and '60s generation tanks were badly beaten by wire-guided missiles, and it was realized that dramatically improved armor protection was needed. The decision was made to allow the tank to increase its weight to the next classification, Military Loading Class 60 (tonnes), and a new design effort was started, with the spaced armour replaced with a much denser perforated armour assemblage. The new design would go on to augment and after the Cold War sometimes replace the Leopard in many countries' armies.
The commander’s station of the Leopard 2A7+ MBT incorporates a new PERI RTWL stabilised glass optical periscope for day and night reconnaissance over long distances. The periscope consists of a third-generation Attica thermal imaging device, a daylight CCD camera, an image fusion function, fibre optical gyros, and an eye-safe laser range-finder.
The gunner’s station is fitted with an EMES 15 stabilised main sight and a FERO Z18 auxiliary sighting telescope. The driver is provided with a combined thermal imager / image intensifier night vision for front and rear view.
KMW’s MBT Leopard 2 support systems and tank engine
A programme has been put in place to replace the H-WNA improved hydraulic system with E-WNA, which is an electrical weapon follow-up system. The replacement with the E-WNA provides the following advantages: the turret has no pressurised hydraulic fluid, lower noise level and lower power consumption and heat generation, improved reliability and lower maintenance and service requirements, saving in operating costs, and good long-term storage properties.
The crew compartment is equipped with a fire and explosion detection and suppression system which has been licensed by the company Deugra Ges. fur Brandschutzsysteme of Ratingen, Germany, from the UK company Kidde-Graviner of Slough, Berkshire. A fireproof bulkhead separates the fighting compartment from the engine compartment at the rear of the vehicle.
The engine is the MTU MB 873 diesel engine, providing 1,100kW (1,500shp), with a Renk HSWL 354 gear and break system. An enhanced version of the EuroPowerPack, with a 1,210kW (1,650shp) MTU MT883 engine, has been trialled on the Leopard 2.
Development of the Leopard 1 main battle tank began in 1956 and took about 10 years. The first trials began in 1961. Vehicle entered service with the Bundeswehr in 1965. Production ceased in 1984 and it was replaced by the Leopard 2. However the Leopard 1 was a very successful design. Over 4 000 of these MBTs were built in Germany. Another 720 were license-produced in Italy. Despite its age the Leopard 1 is still in service with a number of export operators.
The Leopard 1 has a welded hull and cast turret. Armor of this tank is relatively thin. Germans estimated that contemporary Soviet T-62 tank could penetrate frontal armor of the Leopard 1 at a range of 1 800 meters. Newer Soviet T-72 tank could penetrate it at a range of over 3 000 meters. The tank is fitted with NBC protection equipment for the crew.
Despite its relatively thin armor, the Leopard 1 packed a formidable punch. This MBT is armed with the British L7A3 105 mm rifled gun. It was a standard NATO tank gun, used on contemporary tanks, such as American M60 Patton and French AMX-30. This gun is loaded manually. Ammunition includes APDS, APFSDS, HEAT and smoke rounds. Germans estimated that the Leopard 1 could penetrate frontal armor of the Soviet T-62 tank at a range of 400 meters with APDS round and 1 500 meters with APFSDS round. Frontal armor of the newer T-72 tank could be penetrated by APFSDS round at a range of 800 meters.
Secondary armament consists of coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and another roof-mounted 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun.
Vehicle is powered by the MTU MB 838 Ca M500 multi-fuel diesel engine, developing 830 horsepower. The whole powerpack, including engine and transmission, can be replaced in field conditions within 20 minutes. The torsion bar suspension consists of seven road wheels, with the drive sprocket at the rear and idler at the front. The Leopard 1 is fitted with a deep wading kit and after preparation can ford water obstacles up to 4 m deep. A dozer blade can be attached at the front of the hull.
Leopard 1A1 was fitted with a new gun stabilization system allowing to fire effectively on the move. It was also fitted with side skirts, new thermal sleeve on the gun barrel and some other minor improvements.
Leopard 1A2 had better turret armor protection, improved NBC protection system and new night vision equipment.
Leopard 1A3 had new welded turret with composite armor and wedge-shaped gun mantlet.
Leopard 1A4 is externally similar to the 1A3, but included new computerized fire control system, and new sighting system.
Leopard 1A5 was developed in early 1990s. It was fitted with modern fire control system and improved night vision equipment. A total of 1 300 of the Leopard 1A1 and 1A2 MBTs were upgraded to this level.
Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, fitted with two 35 mm guns.
Bergepanzer armored engineering vehicle.
Some countries made local upgrades to their Leopard 1s to extend their service lives.
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Top 10 Main Battle Tanks
Often we receive many questions which is the best main battle tank in the world. Which is the greatest modern MBT and why. Our Top 10 analysis is based on the combined score of protection, firepower, accuracy and mobility. None of the tanks listed here have seen combat against each other during military operations yet. And even though some things, such as armor composition, are kept in high secrecy, we know a lot about these machines. Data on their protection, firing range, accuracy, capabilities of their fire control systems, and so on are widely available. So we know capabilities of each of these tanks. This analysis is based on specifications and available data.
All of the tanks mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating. However crew training of the tank is also an important factor, as performance of the actual tank depends from the crew performance.
This list do not contains tanks that are currently under development, at the prototype stage or tanks that never reach production. The only exception here is the Russian Armata which was produced in small numbers for testing and evaluation, but is not yet produced in quantity.
Currently top 10 best tanks in the world are these:
It is a recent version of the proven and successful Leopard 2 design. It has additional armor and updated electronics.
The Leopard 2A7 is well protected against conventional and urban warfare threats, such as RPG rounds and IEDs.
This tank has better accuracy and longer range of fire comparing with other tanks due to its powerful gun and advanced fire control system. During numerous international tank challenge competitions the Leopard 2 series tanks outperformed American M1A2 SEP, British Challenger 2, French Leclerc and some other tanks in terms of overall performance.
This MBT is powered by a proven multi-fuel diesel engine, developing 1 500 hp. Despite increase in weight vehicle has increased mobility due to improved suspension components. Cross-country performance is similar to other Leopard 2 series tanks.
German Army ordered a first batch of 20 Leopard 2A7 MBTs, upgraded from Leopard 2A6. Deliveries commenced in 2014. German army plans to upgrade 50 to 150 tanks to the 2A7 standard. Qatar ordered 62 of these MBTs and Saudi Arabia more than 200.
Currently the Black Panther is one of the most advanced main battle tank in the world, outclassing anything North Korea or China have. Furthermore it is the most expensive main battle tank to date. Deliveries of the K2 Black Panther tank commenced to the South Korean Army in 2016. As of 2017 at least 100 tanks were delivered. South Korean requirement is for around 300 of these new tanks. These will eventually replace the older K1 tanks.
This tank uses composite armor of undisclosed type and explosive reactive armor modules. It is claimed that front armor withstands direct hits from 120 mm tank rounds, fired from L55 guns. Its protection level is broadly similar to that of the M1A2 Abrams, considering that the K2 is much lighter. The Black Panther tank is also completed with an active protection system and countermeasures system, that further increase its survivability on the battlefield.
This new South Korean tank is armed with the latest German 120 mm/L55 gun, similar to that used on the German Leopard 2A6 and 2A7. This tank has a very advanced fire control system with can spot, track and fire automatically at visible vehicle-size targets, and even low-flying helicopters, without needing any input from a human operator. The K2 also uses advanced munitions.
The Black Panther is fitted with a powerful diesel engine. It is fast and has a state-of-the-art hydropneumatic suspension.
The M1A2 SEP is a successor to the M1A2 Abrams. This tank has incredible technology and armor. Also it has seen combat. It is one of the most feared MBTs.
The M1A2 SEP offers significant protection against all well-known anti-tank weapons. This main battle tank uses advanced armor, reinforced with depleted uranium layers.
Its firepower and accuracy are slightly inferior to that of the Leopard 2A7 or the South Korean K2 Black Panther due to a shorter 120 mm/L44 smoothbore gun. Yet it still packs a formidable punch.
Its complex gas turbine engine offers good performance, but requires tremendous amount of maintenance, logistical support and is thirsty on fuel.
A number of older M1, M1A1 and M1A2 tanks were upgraded to this standard. The tank can be also fitted with a Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK), that improves survivability in urban environment. T o date very few Abrams tanks have been destroyed in combat.
The M1A2 SEP is in service with United States Army (at least 900). It is planned that this tank will remain in service beyond 2050. The M1A2 SEP has not been exported yet. However the previous M1A2 has been supplied to Kuwait (218) and Saudi Arabia (373).
It is a very capable tank. The Challenger 2 has the latest Chobham armor and is one of the most protected MBTs in the world today. It offers very high level of protection against direct fire weapons.
This British tank is armed with a very accurate 120 mm rifled gun. Its gun is rifled as opposed to smoothbore guns used by all other modern MBTs. Its maximum aimed range is over 5 km. Currently the Challenger holds the record for for longest tank-to-tank kill.
Engine of the Challenger 2 is less powerful than of its Western rivals. Also it is not as fast as other MBTs. However this tank is famous for its mechanical reliability.
The Challenger 2 is in service with United Kingdom (386) and Oman (38).
The Armata is a new Russian main battle tank of new generation. Pre-production tanks were first publicly revealed in 2015. In 2018 Russian MoD ordered a first batch of these new tanks. Exact order numbers were not disclosed but it is likely that around 60 tanks were ordered. First production tanks were planned to be delivered during the same year. Once in service, the Armata will gradually replace the ageing T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks that become increasingly out-dated.
The Armata is a clean sheet design with a number of advanced features. It shares little common with the current T-90. Also the Armata is much bigger than its predecessor.
Its specifications are classified, however the Armata might be one of the most protected tanks in the world. It has newly-developed base armor, made of steel, ceramics and composite materials. Also Armata has a new Malakhit add-on explosive reactive armor. It has been reported that Armata will be fitted with a new Afghanit active protection system, that is currently being developed. However in 2018 it appeared that there are setbacks with development of the Afghanit. However by 2018 prototypes of this system were not completed and were not ready for testing. The tank has a new countermeasures system that reduces the chance of being hit by enemy ATGW with semi-automatic guidance.
This tank is operated by a crew of 3 men. All crewmembers are seated side-by-side in a well protected armored cell, located at the front of the hull. It is the first production MBT with such crew layout. The tank can operate even with penetrated armor, as far as the crew cell is intact.
The Armata is also a world's first production MBT with completely unmanned turret. It is armed with a new 125 mm smoothbore gun that is more accurate than the previous Russian tank guns. This tank can launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary projectiles. The gun is completed with an autoloader. This tank has a hunter-killer capability.
It has been reported that this tank is fitted with a diesel engine, developing 1 200 hp.
Introduction of this new Russian MBT created a stir in the West. Now a number of countries, such as Germany and UK are looking to upgrade their tanks, or develop new designs in order to counter the threat posed by this new Russian tank.
The Merkava Mk.4 is the latest Israeli main battle tank. It is a successor to the previous Merkava Mk.3. The Merkava Mk.4 was adopted in 2004.
It is one of the most protected tanks in the world. This MBT has an unusual design with a front-mounted engine which gives the crew additional protection and chance to survive if the tank is knocked-out. Improved Merkava Mk.4 Meil Ruach tanks are fitted with a combat-proven Trophy active protection system, which destroys incoming anti-tank missiles and rockets. This tank is also well protected against air-launched guided missiles and advanced top attack anti-tank weapons.
The Israeli tank is armed with indigenous 120 mm smoothbore gun. The Merkava Mk.4 is equipped with new fire control system, that includes some very advanced features. One of them is a high hit probability firing against low-flying helicopters using conventional munitions.
Mobility of the Merkava Mk.4 is rather average due to excessive weight, even though it is fitted with a powerful engine.
All Merkava series tanks have a rear compartment which can be used to carry troops and cargo under armor. It can carry up to 10 troops when ammunition is unloaded.
The Merkava Mk.4 is in service with Israel. A total of 360 of these tanks have already been built and another 300 have been ordered by Israel Defense Forces. For a long time these tanks were not available for export. However in 2014 it was reported, that Israel will export a number of these tanks to an undisclosed customer.
The Japanese Type 90 tank was developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in cooperation with German Krauss-Maffei and MaK tank manufacturers. It has a number of external similarities with the German Leopard 2. The Type 90 was officially adopted by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces in 1989. Full scale production commenced in 1992. At the time it was one of the most advanced and in fact the most expensive production MBT. Original Japanese army requirement was for 600 of these tanks, however only about 340 were built due to high unit price. This tank was never exported, as at the time Japan laws did not allow export of military equipment.
This MBT is armed with German Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun, which was produced in Japan under license. It fires all standard NATO 120 mm tank rounds. Unusual feature of the Type 90 is that this tank was fitted with a bustle-mounted automatic ammunition loading system. At the time only Soviet and Chinese tanks had autoloaders, but these were not used on Western tanks. The autoloader allowed to reduce the crew to 3 men, as there was no need for the loader.
This Japanese tank has a fire control system with independent commander's sight.
Another unusual feature of this tank is that it has a hydropneumatic suspension. It allows this MBT to "kneel", or "lean", giving a number of advantages.
In 2012 a new Type 10 tank was adopted by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces. However it is much smaller and lighter than the Type 90. Even though it is much more technologically advanced, in fact currently it is one of the most advanced tanks in the world, it has inferior protection. Its main role is to support infantry with its firepower, rather than to combat enemy tanks.
This French main battle tank entered service in 1992. Overall it is a successful design. A number of design features of the Leclerc were later used on other Western tanks. The Leclerc was used during a number of peacekeeping and military operations.
The This French tank has advanced composite armor with add-on modular armor. Protection level can be tailored to the threat. Turret and hull roof was designed to withstand top-attack munitions. However in terms of protection the Leclerc can not match tanks such as the US M1A2 Abrams or the British Challenger 2.
This tank is armed with a 120 mm/L52 gun. This MBT is operated by a crew of three and is fitted with a bustle-mounted automatic ammunition loading system. It has a high hit probability against both stationary and moving targets. Also it has a hunter-killer engagement capability. It is claimed that the Leclerc can engage 6 targets, located 1.5 - 2 km away, within one minute with a hit probability of 95%. That's impressive result.
This tank is fitted with a battlefield management system. It automatically reports to command post tank's location, quantity of ammunition and fuel left.
This tank has good mobility due to its 1 500 hp engine and hydropneumatic suspension.
Currently it is in service with France (406) and the United Arab Emirates (388).
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine continued development of a T-80UD main battle tank. Their latest version of this tank is the Oplot-M.
The Oplot-M is fitted with explosive reactive armor of new generation. This MBT inherited from its predecessor automatic ammunition loading system. Ammunition is stored in the main compartment, rather than a separate compartment with a blow-out panels. It is a significant drawback of this tank, as once the armor is penetrated it is likely that the ammunition will detonate killing the crew and destroying the tank.
This latest Ukranian tank is not as accurate against long-range targets as its Western rivals. However this tank can launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions. These have a maximum range of 5 km.
The Oplot-M has an independent commander's sight with thermal vision, which gives the tank a hunter-killer engagement capability.
This Ukrainian tank is superior to the Russian T-90 as it has more advanced add-on armor, more powerful engine and superior fire control system. However it outperforms the latest Russian Army's T-90M only in terms of more powerful engine.
The Oplot-M completed Ukrainian Army trials. However it did not entered Ukrainian Army service due to limited funding. The only operator of this tank is Thailand. Currently the Oplot-M is produced in small numbers. Ukrainian Army operates a small number of older and less capable Oplot tanks.
The T-90 is currently the only tank produced in quantity in Russia. It is not as sophisticated as its Western rivals, however it uses proven technology and is cost effective. Currently it is the most commercially successful main battle tank on the global market. Also it is one of the cheapest among modern MBTs. The T-90 is currently in service with Russia (approximately 700), Algeria (305), Azerbaijan (20), India (620), Turkmenistan (40) and Venezuela (50
100). The T-90M is its latest version, which is used by the Russian Army since 2019. It has a number of improvements over the original T-90.
The T-90 has a small profile which makes it a harder target to hit. Significant drawback of the T-90 is ammunition stored in the main compartment due to its carrousel-type autoloader. Once the hull is penetrated onboard ammunition detonates by killing all the crew and destroying the tank. This drawback is common to all Soviet, Russian, Ukrainian and recent Chinese MBTs. Western tanks have a separate compartment in the turret bustle with a blow-out panels.
The T-90 is not as accurate against long-range targets, however it can launch anti-tank guided missiles in the same manner as ordinary munitions.
The latest T-90M uses a significantly improved fire control system than the original T-90. It has advanced sights with thermal vision, as well as panoramic commander's sight, which would allow to detect and engage targets faster. Though most other modern tanks use this system already.
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