Leopard 2A8 MBT
Main Battle Tank - Germany
The Leopard 2A8 Main Battle Tank (MBT) represents the newest modernized variant in the Leopard 2 family of tanks manufactured by the German companies KMW (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann) and Rheinmetall. This tank is equipped with a cutting-edge armor protection system, believed to incorporate multi-layered armor from the newest generation. It is a improved version of the Leopard 2A7. A demonstrator showing the idea of the Leopard 2A8 was displayed in May 2023 during IDET, an international defense exhibition that was held in Brno, Czech Republic. On May 24, 2023, the German government confirmed the purchase of 18 Leopard 2A8 to replace Leopard 2A6 donated to Ukraine with an option for an additional order of 105 Leopard 2A8 tanks. In a statement published on May 24, 2023, the Czech Ministry of Defense announced that it has authorized Defense Minister Jana Černochová to negotiate the possibility of joining Germany in the purchase of 70 Leopard 2A8 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
Note: The images featured in this article are of a demonstrator model, offering a glimpse into the future design of the Leopard 2A8.
Leopard 2A8 variants:
- No variants at this time
The Leopard 2A8 tank is fitted with a three man turret armed with a 120 mm/L55 smoothbore gun. The L55 gun is produced by the German company Rheinmetall AG. It's an upgraded version of the L44 gun that was initially installed in earlier versions of the Leopard 2 tank. The L55 is known for its greater length, which 1.3 meters longer than the L44 is allowing the L55 to achieve higher muzzle velocities, and thus, improve accuracy, range, and penetration. It can fire a variety of munitions, including APFSDS (Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot), HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank), and multipurpose ammunition. The gun can also fire the DM11 ammunition. One of the unique features of the DM11 is its ability to be programmed to detonate at a specific point in its trajectory. This programming can be done either at the point of firing or in-flight, and it's controlled by the tank's fire control system. This feature makes the DM11 highly versatile and effective in a wide range of scenarios. It can be used against lightly armored vehicles, infantry in the open or in cover, as well as against fortifications or buildings. By programming the round to explode above ground or at a specific point after penetrating a target, it can have a significantly greater effect than conventional high-explosive rounds. The second armament of the Leopard 2A8 includes one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun mounted to the left side of the main armament.
|Front view of the Leopard 2A8 tank demonstrator with the driver at the front right side|
|Design and protection|
The layout of the Leopard 2A8 is similar to the previous version of the Leopard 2 with with the driver at the front right side of the hull, the turret in the middle, and the engine at the rear. It has a crew of four including the driver, the gunner, the loader, and the commander. The driver has three periscopes for visibility. The central periscope can be replaced with a passive night vision periscope for operations in low-light conditions. The driver enters and exits the tank through a single-piece hatch. The turret houses the remaining three crew members: the commander, the gunner, and the loader. The commander and the gunner are located on the right side of the turret, while the loader is on the left. The commander and loader have their hatches for entry and exit. The design of the turret is slightly modified by the integration of new armor and the addition of an APS system. The front of the hull has been also fitted with improved armor.
The Leopard 2A8 variant boasts enhanced armor protection, elevating its defensive capabilities significantly. This modernized model employs the latest generation multi-layered armor, an intricate fusion of steel, tungsten, composite filler, and ceramic components, all contributing to its robust defensive structure. Moreover, it comes equipped with an additional passive armor kit, further fortifying its defenses. Advancements in protective measures are particularly apparent in areas such as the turret roof and the underbelly of the tank, enhancing protection against mine detonations. A notable addition to the Leopard 2A8's defense system is the incorporation of a variant of the renowned Israeli Trophy Active Protection System (APS), colloquially referred to as the EuroTrophy. This cutting-edge system further bolsters the tank's resilience, adding an active, responsive layer of defense against incoming threats.
A crucial element of the Trophy APS is its radar system. Providing 360-degree coverage, this radar is proficient in detecting incoming threats. Its sophisticated design allows for the simultaneous tracking of multiple targets, from which it collects initial data about each threat's velocity and trajectory. One radar is mounted on each side at the front and rear of the turret. Following the radar's threat detection and tracking, a 'countermeasure device' swiftly comes into play. This subsystem fires a dense cloud of explosively formed penetrators (metal pellets) that neutralize the incoming threat at a safe distance from the vehicle. The boxes containing the countermeasure devices are mounted on each side of the turret.
|The radar of the Trophy APS Active Protection Systems is mounted on each corner of the turret.|
|The Leopard 2A8 is powered by a robust 1,600 hp engine, an upgrade from the 1,500 hp engine employed in its predecessors. The shift to newly-constructed hulls in the Leopard 2A8 model might have a connection to this enhanced engine, perhaps suggesting a design adaptation to better accommodate the increased horsepower. The tank can reach a top road speed of 70 km/h. Fuel efficiency and large-capacity tanks equip the Leopard 2A8 with an estimated operational range of roughly 450 kilometers without needing to refuel, an advantageous feature for sustained operations in distant or remote areas. |
Maneuverability is a key strength of this model. With its ability to ascend gradients of up to 60 % and traverse side slopes of 30 %, the Leopard 2A8 is adept at handling diverse and challenging terrains. Vertical obstacles up to approximately 1.15 meters pose no hindrance, and the tank is capable of crossing trenches of around 3 meters. When it comes to water obstacles, the Leopard 2A8 showcases impressive fording capabilities. It can safely traverse water depths of about 1 meter without any preparation. With necessary preparations, the tank can ford water bodies of up to 4 meters deep, a testament to its versatile and adaptable design.
The Leopard 2A8, like its predecessors in the Leopard 2 series, utilizes a torsion bar suspension system. Torsion bar suspensions are a common type of tank suspension due to their durability and relative simplicity. In this system, each wheel is individually attached to a bar under tension. When the wheel moves up or down (such as when going over rough terrain), the bar twists to absorb the shock. The suspension system comprises seven dual rubber-tired road wheels and four return rollers per side, with the drive sprocket at the rear and the idler at the front. The tracks are of a die-cast, rubber-padded type. The design of the Leopard's suspension and wheels allows for excellent off-road capabilities. The tank can negotiate steep hills, trenches, and vertical obstacles, while the torsion bar suspension provides a balance of performance and comfort for the crew. The upper parts of the suspension are protected by armor plates.
|The suspension on each side consists on each side of seven dual rubber-tired road wheels and four return rollers per side, with the drive sprocket at the rear and the idler at the front.|
|The Leopard 2A8 features advanced optics, fire control systems, and combat equipment to improve its combat effectiveness, targeting, and crew safety. The tank's optics are some of the best available. It includes a commander’s panoramic periscope, which allows for 360-degree visibility, and it's equipped with third-generation thermal imaging modules for both the commander and gunner, which enable high-resolution vision in various lighting conditions, including at night and in adverse weather. The Leopard 2A8 is equipped with a sophisticated fire control system (FCS) that offers high first-round hit probability, even when the tank or the target is moving. This system includes a laser rangefinder, a ballistic computer, and the capacity to feed meteorological data into the firing solution. The FCS also allows the Leopard 2A8 to engage moving targets while on the move, with a high degree of accuracy. |
The Leopard 2A8 is also equipped with an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) that allows systems to run and charge the battery when the main engine is not running. This can reduce fuel consumption and increase the tank's endurance in the field.
The Leopard 2A8 comes equipped with an NBC overpressurization system, offering substantial protection for the crew against nuclear, biological, and chemical threats. This advanced system maintains an internal pressure of up to 4 millibars (4.0 hPa) higher than the external environment, creating a safer habitat within the tank.
A robust fire protection system also forms part of the Leopard 2A8's safety features. Located behind the driver's station on the right, there are four Halon fire extinguisher bottles, each weighing 9 kg. Connected through an intricate network of pipes and hoses, these extinguishers spring into action either when the internal temperature surpasses 82 °C (180 °F), detected by the automatic fire detection system, or manually through a control panel within the driver's compartment. Additionally, a spare 2.5 kg Halon fire extinguisher is conveniently stored beneath the main gun, ensuring multiple layers of fire safety.
|120 mm / L55 smoothbore cannon, 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and Trophy APS countermeasure launcher.||A new generation of active and passive all-around armor providing protection against modern ATGW Anti-Tank Guided Weapons and RPG Rocket Propelled Grenades threats.|
|Germany, Czech Republic||65,000 - 67,000 kg|
|Germany||70 km/h on the road|
|Collective NRBC system, power pack preheating, crew compartment heater, a fire extinguishing system, electric bilge pumps, thermal imaging system, auxiliary power unit, crew compartment cooling system, panoramic sight for the commander||450 km|
|4||Length: 7.7 m; Width: 4.0 m; Height: 3.0 m|
Pictures - Video