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Greece unveils new Leopard 1HEL Main Battle Tank with European collaboration.

| Defense News Army 2024

On April 22, 2024, the Greek company EODH, in collaboration with Belgian-Spanish DUMA and German KNDS (formerly Krauss-Maffei Wegmann), unveiled the Leopard 1HEL, an upgraded version of the Leopard 1A5 main battle tank featuring a modular upgrade package. The upgrade aims to modernize this aging German main battle tank and has been presented as an option for the Greek Army, which is the largest user of this tank type globally.
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The Greek Leopard 1HEL upgrade mainly brings enhanced firepower, advanced protection systems, and improved mobility to the aging German Leopard 1A5 tank. (Picture source: EODH)

According to EODH, several other countries operating the Leopard 1A5 have also expressed interest in this upgrade. In addition to the Leopard 1A5, EODH and its partners are also finalizing a similar modernization package for the M60 series tanks, indicating a broader strategy to provide modernization solutions across different models of tanks. This approach is intended to prolong the service life and improve the operational efficiency of these aging tanks, as several nations are in search of comprehensive and cost-effective modernization solutions for these military assets.

The Leopard 1HEL modernization package, increasing the total weight of the tank to 46 tons, brings several improvements to the Leopard 1A5. With a new 1,000-horsepower engine, upgraded drivetrain, and suspension systems, the Leopard 1HEL is expected to achieve higher on- and off-road speeds and better obstacle-crossing capabilities. Additionally, the tank now includes features such as an engine air filtration unit with automatic cleaning, strengthened powertrain components to handle increased torque and combat weight, and final drives adapted for compatibility with the upgraded gearbox. The option for a new one-piece rubber crawler aims to improve suspension performance and reduce weight, while the introduction of hydropneumatic wishbones enhances suspension performance and optimizes interior space. Automatic crawler tensioners, controlled from the driving position, ensure proper tension for improved traction, and a new battery and power management system enhance operational efficiency and reliability.

The proposed upgrade involves updating the tank's turret and hull with advanced systems and technologies while retaining the 105mm cannon, which is supplemented by next-generation ammunition to enhance its performance. The use of a large stockpile of existing ammunition is a key aspect of the upgrade, contributing to its viability as a cost-effective solution.

The upgraded firepower of the Leopard 1HEL tank primarily focuses on the implementation of a new Fire Control System (FCS) and Gun Control System (GCS), which provide an advanced targeting and engagement framework. Key features include a fully stabilized main sight for the gunner, aligned parallel to the tank gun, and a separate, fully stabilized independent panoramic periscope for the commander, both featuring the same optical sensors for precise targeting. Additionally, enhancements such as a long-range thermal imaging camera, a day camera with a continuous zoom lens, and a digital laser rangefinder and laser designator contribute to improved precision in gun barrel alignment.

Greece unveils new Leopard 1HEL Main Battle Tank with European collaboration 925 002

The new Remote Weapon Station (RWS) on the Leopard 1HEL enhances the tank's combat capabilities by allowing independent engagement of both aerial and ground targets. (Picture source: EODH)

The modernization efforts also encompass the integration of a Remote Weapon Station (RWS) equipped with a 12.7mm M2 machine gun and an integrated Early Warning Anti-Drone system. The fire control circuits are re-engineered to allow the commander to activate or deactivate each weapon system, providing the ability to override the gunner and engage both aerial and ground targets independently. Enhanced target tracking capabilities and a dynamic orifice reference system are included to improve targeting precision. Technological integrations like the Dynamic Orifice Reference System, Automatic Target Tracking, and data integration from web weather sources and GPS further augment the tank’s operational capabilities.

The protection and survivability of the Leopard 1HEL are structured around a complete package of both passive and active protection systems, which include an array of sensors and countermeasures.

Technologically, the Leopard 1HEL features multifunctional LCD touch screens and wired control panels, facilitating efficient data sharing among the crew and enabling quick role switching. The commander is equipped with the capability to dynamically control each weapon system, allowing for rapid adaptation to combat scenarios, including the deployment of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), loitering ammunition, and an organic drone for enhanced detection and targeting.

The Leopard 1HEL has been upgraded to a fully digitized, network-centric combat platform that integrates a sophisticated array of sensors and weapons systems. These enhancements are coordinated through the use of artificial intelligence, aimed at supporting the operational demands of modern warfare. The system's architecture facilitates connectivity with both manned and unmanned units, including UAVs, UGVs, and loitering munitions, through secure, high-speed data links. This integration enables the sharing and exchange of real-time tactical situational data, supporting operations that range from individual soldiers to larger formations such as tactical battle groups and brigades.

Incorporated within the Leopard 1HEL is an advanced Battlefield Management System (BMS) that utilizes artificial intelligence to aid operators in managing the complexities of modern combat. This system is designed to reduce the operational burden on crew members by automating routine processes and enhancing the speed of decision-making, thereby supporting the efficiency of combat operations.

Communication and interconnection capabilities have been significantly improved with a digital intercom system featuring noise-canceling headsets compatible with up to three Combat Network (CNR) transceivers, an external communications system with a software-driven V/UHF transceiver for voice and command and control communications, and a SATCOM transceiver for expanded communication reach. A secure, high-speed radio data system is included for controlling drones and robotic vehicles, while the communication server is engineered to meet C5I requirements by automatically selecting the best communication channel to ensure secure and continuous data transfer.


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