United Arab Emirates to donate 80 French-made Leclerc tanks MBTs to Jordan

According to a post published on September 15, 2020, by French blog Blablachars, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), users of the Leclerc Main Battle Tank (MBT) for more than 20 years, have decided to donate 80 of these tanks to Jordan. In 1993, the UAE  has signed a contract with the French Company Giat Industries (now Nexter Systems) for the purchase of 436 combat vehicles, including  388 Leclerc MBTs, two driver training tanks, and 48 armored recovery tanks based on the Leclerc MBT chassis. 
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UAE Leclerc MBTs during a dynamic combat demonstration.  (Picture source: Army Recognition)

This number should allow Jordan to equip two of the four tank battalions belonging to its 3rd Armored Division. This large unit is in fact made up of two brigades: the first one – the 40th Armored Brigade (King Hussein) – comprises the 2nd Tank Battalion (Royal Tank Battalion) and the 4th Tank Battalion (Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein); the second brigade – the 60th Armored Brigade (Prince Hassan) – comprises the 3rd Royal Tank Battalion and the 5th Royal Tank Battalion. These two brigades were transferred to the Jordanian central command in 2018, Blablachars recalls. All these units are equipped with older tanks such as the Tariq (Centurion), the M60 A1, the Al Khalid (Chieftain), or the Al Hussein (Challenger1).

This transfer from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Jordan could allow the creation of new synergies around the upgrading of the Leclerc MBT in the three user countries, which are now the United Arab Emirates with a little over 300 units, Jordan with these 80 tanks, and of course France with 200 tanks, Blablachars concludes.

The Leclerc MBT is the backbone of the UAE armed forces which is in service since 1994. In 2003, France's Giat Industries signed a contract to upgrade hundreds of Leclerc tanks it has supplied to the UAE within a $4 billion deal signed 10 years ago. In early 2011, French Company Nexter signed an agreement with the International Golden Group from UAE to supply Azur up-armour kits for the Leclerc MBTs of the UAE Armed Forces.  The AZUR kit consists of additional protection in the form of side skirts of composite material, bar armor on the rear of the hull and turret to protect against rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and extra protection for the engine.

Leclerc main battle tanks of the United Arab Emirates were deployed in combat operations in Yemen (near Aden) as part of the Saudi-led coalition. It is estimated that 70 Leclerc MBTs were deployed by the UAE in Yemen, 15 of them equipped with the AZUR package.

French-made Leclerc is one of the most modern main battle tanks in the world. The tank is armed with a GIAT (Nexter) CN120-26 120mm smoothbore cannon which has a chamber the same size as that of the 120 mm smoothbore gun fitted to the Leopard 2, M1A1 and M1A2. The turret is equipped with an automatic loader that contains 22 rounds of ready-use ammunition normally loaded from outside through a small hatch in the back of the turret bustle. With this system, the tank can fire at a rate of 10 to 12 rds./min. 

The Leclerc MBT has a crew of three including a driver, commander, and gunner. The hull and turret of the Leclerc MBT are of welded steel construction to which the composite armor is added; this provides a very high degree of protection against both KE and CE attack. The armor package of the tank is of modular design so that it can be easily replaced or upgraded with the latest generation of new armor.

The Leclerc MBT is powered by a SACM V8X-1500 Hyperbar diesel developing 1,500 hp coupled to a SESM ESM 500 fully automatic transmission with five forward and two reverse gears and hydrostatic transmission. It can run at a maximum speed of 72 Km/h with a maximum cruising range of 450 km with internal fuel that can be extended to 550 km with external fuel tanks.