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Ukrainian Soldiers Enhance Protection of Donated Leopard 2 Tanks Against Russian Threats

Ukrainian soldiers have been reported to make crucial upgrades to the German-made Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks, a contribution from Germany, Poland, Spain, Canada, and some other European countries aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense capabilities following the invasion of the country by Russian troops. Recent pictures of the warfront show these armor improvements designed to increase the protection of the tanks against the evolving threats in the Ukrainian conflict zone and new Russian threats.
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Captured leopard 2A6 near Bakhmut (Picture source: Russian Telegram Channel Милитарист )

The Leopard 2A6, a main battle tank developed by Germany, represents a significant evolution in armored warfare technology, boasting enhanced capabilities and armament that make it one of the most formidable tanks in modern military operations. Its main armament consists of a 120mm Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun, which offers an extended barrel length compared to its predecessors, resulting in improved accuracy and increased muzzle velocity. This allows the Leopard 2A6 to engage targets at greater distances with high precision.

Regarding protection, the Leopard 2A6 benefits from composite armor that includes advanced materials such as tungsten and plastic filler with ceramic components. The tank can be further outfitted with additional armor modules to increase protection against shaped charges and kinetic energy penetrators. Its defensive suite is rounded off with smoke grenade launchers and an automatic fire suppression system, providing comprehensive protection against various threats.

According to battlefield needs, Ukraine has begun outfitting its Leopard 2A6 tanks with specialized anti-RPG (Rocket-Propelled Grenade) grids. These grids, designed to augment the tanks' existing armor, function by detonating incoming RPGs before they can strike the main armor body, significantly reducing the potential damage from such attacks. This adaptation reflects Ukraine's innovative approach to asymmetrical warfare, where RPGs often pose a significant threat to armored vehicles in close-quarters combat or urban environments.
By integrating these anti-RPG grids, Ukraine not only increases the Leopard 2A6's resilience against anti-tank weaponry but also showcases its commitment to adapting cutting-edge defensive technologies to protect its assets and personnel amidst ongoing conflicts.

Anti-RPG grids are not the only enhancements Ukraine has made to its Leopard tanks. Several weeks ago, the capture of an abandoned Leopard 2A4 tank in an anti-tank ditch unveiled the addition of Kontakt-1 reactive armor bricks, showcasing Ukraine's multifaceted approach to upgrading its armored vehicles.

Kontakt-1 is an Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) system developed by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and early 1980s to enhance the protection of armored vehicles against anti-tank rocket and missile threats. This system consists of explosive-filled plates attached to the exterior of a tank or armored vehicle's hull and turret. When struck by a shaped charge, such as those found in rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), the explosive in the plate detonates. This detonation disrupts the incoming warhead's jet, significantly diminishing its ability to penetrate the vehicle's primary armor.

Kontakt-1 was among the first generations of ERA technology and marked a significant advancement in armored vehicle protection at its introduction. It was designed to be retrofitted on existing vehicles, providing them with an added layer of defense without requiring comprehensive redesigns. This system has been applied to a wide range of Soviet and Russian armored vehicles, including main battle tanks such as the T-72, T-80, and some variants of the T-64, enhancing their survivability on the modern battlefield.

Through these upgrades, Ukraine not only enhances the operational capabilities of its armored forces but also sends a strong message about its determination and adaptability in the face of the evolving battlefield.

leopard 2A4 ERA

Abandoned leopard 2A4 with KONTAKT-1 armor (Picture source: Russian Telegram Channel Cheburashka’s War Room )

Defense News July 2023

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