Leopard 2A6 MBT
Main Battle Tank - Germany
The Leopard 2A6 is one of the latest generations of the main battle tanks from the family of German Leopard. The Leopard 2A6 was developed and manufactured by the German Defence Company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann based on the Leopard 2A5 main battle tank. The Leopard 2A6 entered into service with the German army in 2001. The first version of the Leopard 2 tank was produced for the first time in 1979 and is in service in Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Turkey. We can easily identify the Leopard 2A6 compared to the Leopard 2A5, due to the use of the Rh 120 L55 cannon for the Leopard 2A6 which is one meter longer than the Rh 120 L44 mounted on the Leopard 2A5. In terms of its usage and deployment, the LEOPARD 2 is a truly international weapons system. More than 3,000 LEOPARD 2's currently in service with eleven nations have so far been delivered by KMW as the prime contractor. The LEOPARD 2 is also produced on an international scale, with cooperation programs under the lead responsibility of KMW proving extremely successful and offering future user countries a guarantee of extensive production work share for their respective domestic industries. The LEOPARD 2 is the result of consistent further development of German tank technology, starting with the LEOPARD 1 and based on the experience of international Swedish LEOPARD 2 Strv 122 MBT users. Hence, the very high availability of the system and its low life cycle costs. With its superior firepower - the result of an optimum combination of firepower, protection, mobility and C3I capabilities - the LEOPARD 2 is setting standards on a global scale. The LEOPARD 2 is characterized by its modular design extending all the way to the assembly and component part levels. This, along with the performance reserves, for instance of the suspension and propulsion systems, facilitates modernization and upgrading. On January 24, 2023, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz approved the delivery to Ukraine of German-made Leopard 2A6 Main Battle Tanks.
Leopard 2 main variants:
- Leopard 2: the first version of the vehicle
- Leopard 2A1: A number of minor modifications and the installation of the gunner's thermal sight, and new ammunition racks.
- Leopard 2A2: New thermal sight, deflector plate for the periscope and a large cover plate to protect the existing NBC protection system.
- Leopard 2A3: The main change was the addition of the SEM80/90 digital radio sets (also being fitted to the Leopard 1 at the same time), and the ammunition reloading hatches being welded shut.
- Leopard 2A4: 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.
- Leopard 2A5: The A5 introduced wedge-shaped, spaced add-on armour to the turret front and the frontal area of the sides. There were also some improvements in the main armour composition. The tank interior received spall liners to reduce fragments if the armour is penetrated. The frontal "heavy" third of the side skirts were replaced with a new, stronger type.
- Leopard 2A6: Includes the addition of the Rheinmetall 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun and several other changes. The Leopard 2A6M is a version of the 2A6 with enhanced mine protection under the chassis, and several internal enhancements to improve crew survivability.
- Leopard 2PSO: designed especially for urban warfare, which had been encountered in peacekeeping operations with increasing frequency. Therefore the Leopard 2 PSO is equipped with more effective all-around protection, a secondary weapons station, improved reconnaissance ability, a bulldozer blade, a shorter gun barrel, non-lethal armament, close-range surveillance ability (through camera systems), a searchlight and further changes to improve its perseverance and mobility.
- Leopard 2A6EX: A further development of the Leopard 2A6, the private venture Leopard 2A6 EX has been developed for the export market and has several additional improvements including an auxiliary power unit, air conditioning unit, and improved armour protection.
- Leopard 2A7: is designed to operate in low-intensity conflicts as well as in high-intensity conflicts. The tank's protection has been increased by modular armour; the frontal protection has been improved with a duel-kit on the turret and hull front, while 360° protection against RPGs and mine protection increase the survivability of the tank in urban operations. It can fire programmable HE munitions and the turret mounted MG3 has been replaced with a stabilized FLW 200 remotely controlled weapon station. The mobility, sustainability and situational awareness have also been improved.
Superior firepower is guaranteed by the 120 mm smoothbore gun of the LEOPARD 2. The development of the L 55 gun, a more powerful, longer version of the main armament, and newly developed types of ammunition provide better penetrating power and permit target engagement at longer ranges, thereby underlining the position of the LEOPARD 2 as the pacemaker of tank technology. The main armament of Leopard 2A6 includes the 120mm L55 smoothbore gun which was developed by Rheinmetall Munition of Ratingen, Germany to replace the shorter 120mm L44 smoothbore tank gun on the first version of Leopard 2. The L55 Smoothbore has a length of 6.6 m and is 1.32m longer than its predecessor, the L44 used on the Leopard 2A4 and Leopard A5. With the improved kinetic energy ammunition DM53, the L55 gun can fire to a range of 5,000 m. Of the 42 rounds of ammunition carried, 27 are stored to the left of the driver, 15 on the left side of the turret bustle and separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically driven door. A 7.62 mm Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun is mounted coaxially to the left of the main armament and a similar weapon can be mounted on the loader's hatch. Mounted on either side of the turret are two banks of four smoke grenade dischargers. The gunner has a dual-magnification stabilized EMES-15 sight with an integrated laser range finder and thermal image unit (WBG) which are linked to the fire-control computer. The fire-control computer successively calculates the angle of sight and lateral angular lead for the main armament. The Leopard 2A6 is also equipped with a laser range finder which can acquire targets at a maximum range of 9,900 m.
|Design and protection|
The layout of the Leopard 2A6 is conventional with the driver compartment at the front on the right side, the turret in the centre with the commander and gunner on the right and the loader on the left and the power pack at the rear of the hull. The standard hull of the Leopard 2 has spaced multilayer armour. The Leopard 2A6 is fitted with improved armour protection over the frontal arc with the turret front having a distinctive arrowhead shape. This provides a significant increase in protection against both kinetic and chemical energy attacks. The turret interior has been fitted with spall liners. The side skirts also incorporate composite improved armour. The new externally mounted armour panels can be removed with onboard equipment and can be replaced by armour modules with a higher level of protection.
Well-Balanced Protection Both primary and secondary protection of the system has been the subject of continuous product improvement to protect crew and equipment against even the most advanced types of ammunition. A combat effectiveness improvement programme currently covering more than 500 German and Dutch LEOPARD 2s as well as the highly advanced Swedish, Spanish and Greek LEOPARD 2 main battle tanks and additional product improvement programmes as the LEOPARD 2 A6 EX prove that the system will maintain its unchallenged position until well into the 21st century.
|The Leopard 2A6 is motorized with an MTU MB 873 diesel engine, providing 1,100kW (1,500shp), with a Renk HSWL 354 gear and brake system. The torsion bars suspension of Leopard 2A6 consists on each side of seven dual rubber-tired road wheels with the idler at the front, the drive sprocket at the rear and four track-support rollers. . The front third of the top of the track is covered by special armoured boxes which can be rotated upwards both for maintenance and to reduce the overall width of the vehicle for rail travel.|
|The Leopard 2A6 is equipped with a land navigation system from the company LITEF of Bonn, Germany which is a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman (formerly Litton) of the USA. The hybrid navigation system consists of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and an inertial navigation system. 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 Leopard 2A6 has a thermal sight whose image is transmitted to a monitor inside the turret. This allows the commander and gunner to engage targets under all weather conditions and also allows them to operate as a hunter (commander) and killer (gunner) team. The rear part of the hull is equipped with a TV camera.|
|One 120mm L55 smoothbore gun, one coaxial 7.62mm machine gun and one anti-aircraft 7.62 mm on the top of the loader hatch||Standard-spaced multilayer armour, improved armour protection over the front turret and the turret interior has been fitted with spall liners|
|Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Turkey||62,000 kg combat conditions|
|Germany||72 km/h maximum road speed|
|Infrared night vision, NBC protection system.||500 km|
|4||Length: 7.70 m; Width: 3.70 m; Height: 3.00 m|
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