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Leopard 2

Main battle tank

Leopard 2 MBT

The Leopard 2 main battle tank entered service with the German Army in 1979

 
 
Country of origin West Germany
Entered service 1979
Crew 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 55.15 t
Length (gun forward) 9.67 m
Hull length 7.72 m
Width 3.7 m
Height 2.48 m
Armament
Main gun 120 mm smoothbore
Machine guns 2 x 7.62 mm
Elevation range - 9 to + 20 degrees
Traverse range 360 degrees
Ammunition load
Main gun 42 rounds
Machine guns 4 750 x 7.62 mm
Mobility
Engine MTU MB-837 Ka501 diesel
Engine power 1 500 hp
Maximum road speed 72 km/h
Range 550 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 1.15 m
Trench 3 m
Fording 1 m
Fording (with preparation) 4 m

 

   Development of the Leopard 2 main battle tank began in 1970. In those days a clash between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was possible and the German Army needed a well protected MBT, which was superior to the models introduced in the Eastern Block. The first prototypes of the Leopard 2 were completed in 1972. In 1977 Bundeswehr initially ordered 1 800 of these main battle tanks to replace the Leopard 1. First production batch of 30 tanks was completed in 1979 and the Leopard 2 was adopted by the German Army the same year. At the time of its introduction the Leopard 2 was a very advanced and successful design. By 1993 German Army operated a total of 2 155 of these MBTs. This vehicle was also exported worldwide. Export operators are Netherlands (445 tanks), Poland, Switzerland (380 tanks, known as the Pz.87), Sweden (160), Spain (650), Turkey, and some other countries.

   Fire control system, armament, ammunition, transmission and tracks of the Leopard 2 are similar to the US M1 Abrams main battle tank, to simplify maintenance.

   This MBT has a welded hull and turret. Composite armor of the Leopard 2 tank is similar to British Chobham. It offers good protection against armor-piercing rounds and ATGWs. Vehicle is fitted with NBC protection system and automatic fire suppression systems.

   The Leopard 2 main battle tank is armed with a fully-stabilized Rheinmetall RH-M-120 120-mm smoothbore gun. Vehicle carries 42 rounds for the main gun. 15 rounds are stored in the turret bustle, while the rest are carried in front of the hull. The turret bustle is separated from the fighting compartment and has a blow-out panels. The Leopard 2 normally uses two types of ammunition - the APFSDS-T and HEAT-MP-T rounds. The APFSDS-T round penetrates around 450 mm of rolled homogenous armor equivalency at 2 000 m range. Since its introduction some generations of APFSDS-T rounds were developed and used by the German Army. Germans estimated that their Leopard 2 tank could penetrate frontal armor of the Soviet T-72 tank at a range of 2 000 meters and frontal armor of the T-62 tank at a range of over 4 000 meters. The HEAT-MP-T round is effective against both soft and hard targets.

   Secondary armament consists of two 7.62 mm machine guns. One of them is coaxial, while another is mounted on top of the roof.

   The Leopard-2 has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver. One interesting feature about this main battle tank, that it has an escape hatch in the floor behind the driver.

   This main battle tank has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.

   Vehicle is powered by MB-837 Ka501 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 500 horsepower. The Leopard 2 can be fitted with a deep wading kit. After preparation it can ford water obstacles up to 4 m deep.

 

Variants

 

   Leopard 2A1, has improved armor protection. A number of components were improved in order to make them more reliable.

   Leopard 2A2, fitted with improved sights.

   Leopard 2A3, fitted with improved communications equipment and improved parking brake.

   Leopard 2A4, fitted with new digital fire control system and improved turret with more armor. It was the most widespread version of this tank. Its production commenced in 1985 and ceased in 1992. All the previous models were upgraded to this standard. It was produced in Switzerland under license as the Pz 87. It looks like the Leopard 2A4 saw its first combat debut in 2016 during Turkish operation in Syria. A number of these tanks Turkish were lost to anti-tank guided missiles. A comparison test was recently made in Poland in order to compare reliability of their Leopard 2A4 tanks with Polish PT-91 Twardy tanks (improved variant of the Soviet T-72). It appeared that tanks with similar mileage (19 000 km) showed different results. Distance between failures of the Leopard 2A4 tank was 174 km and it took on average 1.3 days to repair the tank. On the other hand distance between failures of the Polish PT-91 was only 25 km and it took on average 3.2 days to repair the tank. So despite its age the Leopard 2A4 can be seen as a rather reliable combat vehicle, that is easy to keep in operational order.

   Leopard 2A5 is a radically improved version. It was introduced in 1990. By 1998 a total of 225 German Army Leopard 2 main battle tanks were upgraded to the 2A5 standard. At that time the Leopard 2A5 was referred as the best main battle tank in the world.

   Leopard 2A6 is another radically improved version with improved armor protection and a longer 120 mm/L55 gun. It has longer range and is more accurate than the Leopard 2A5. This tank is in service with Germany, Canada, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

   Leopard 2A7 a proposed upgrade package for existing MBTs, which includes additional armor, additional cameras for long-range surveillance, advanced command and control equipment and some other improvements. Bundeswehr plans to upgrade about 50 - 150 Leopard tanks to the 2A7 standard. Currently it is one of the best main battle tanks in the world.

   Leopard 2 PSO, a version optimized for urban and peacekeeping operations. It was developed as a private venture. This MBT has increased protection against improvised explosive devices and anti-tank missiles and rockets.

   PzH-2000 self-propelled howitzer.

   Buffel armored recovery vehicle.

   Kodiak engineering vehicle.

   PBS 2 armored bridgelayer.

   crew training vehicle.

 

Video of the Leopard 2 main battle tank

 
Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Leopard 2 MBT

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Personal appeal from Andrius Genys

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