At best, the German KF51 Panther is an improved Leopard 2 tank

It is based on the German "Leopard 2" tank's shell, engine, and transmission, but has a new turret, 130mm L52 smoothbore gun, and instruments.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Amin Papperger, CEO of the German military company Rheinmetall, stated that the KF51 “Panther” main combat tank could be supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces after Germany agreed to provide Ukraine with new tanks. In June 2022, the tank debuted at the European International Defense Exhibition. If the German government approves the delivery, production of the new tank will begin within 15 to 18 months.

Chinks in KF51 armour

This tank can be considered new with certain caveats. The KF51 is based on the German “Leopard 2” tank’s shell, engine, and transmission. The tank’s turret, 130mm L52 smoothbore gun, and instruments are all new. Panther’s combat weight is just 59 tons compared to Leopard 2A6 M’s 62.5 tons. Panther belongs to the third generation with fourth-generation technology. 

Panther, unlike Leopard 2, is crewed by three people. Within the chassis are two crew stations, one of which houses the driver. One extra station is available for the company commander, a drone operator, or a wingman pilot. Sensor and weapon control assignments can be rapidly passed between crew members. Each workstation can take over tasks and roles from the others with no loss of capability. The turret and weapon control systems are integrated into the chassis-based workstations; future improvements could include unmanned turrets and remotely operated Panthers.

The Israeli Hero-120 loitering missile launcher and a proprietary quadrotor reconnaissance aircraft are both novel components.

The tank was most likely built as a radical upgrade to the existing Leopard 2 tank, of which 3,563 were produced. The old “Leopard 2” was dismantled at the factory, and new engines, gearboxes, turrets, and equipment were put in the hull – and the KF-51 was born.

German designers attempted to improve tank combat performance. If the “Leopard 2” has a range of 3000-3500 metres, the new 130mm cannon has a range of 6000-7000 metres.

The Russian T-90 “Breakthrough” tank, by comparison, can fire at a range of 5,000 metres. As a result, existing German tanks are vastly inferior to new Russian tanks and must be updated. As a result, calling the KF-51 an enhanced version of “Leopard 2” is more appropriate.

In brochures, the performance of modern European tanks was frequently overstated. The KF-51 is also referred to as the best and most protected tank.

Combat experience indicates that any tank may be hit and destroyed. The Leopard 2 has armour similar to the KF-51 and has fought in Afghanistan and Syria against opponents who do not have modern tanks or anti-tank weapons. As a result, the Taliban destroyed 6 Danish tanks and 3 Canadian tanks in Afghanistan, while 10 Turkish tanks were destroyed or severely damaged at the battle of al-Bab in Syria, out of 30 tanks involved in the battle. Half of them were hit by anti-tank-guided missiles from the Soviet era.

There’s no reason to believe the KF-51 would perform any better against more sophisticated tanks and anti-tank missiles than it did in Afghanistan and Syria.

The KF-51 also has a flaw: a gap between the frontal hull and the turret that takes up around 20% of the frontal surface. This is also a vulnerability of the M1A1 Abrams. After being hit by a high-explosive fragmentation bullet, this gap would generate an explosive force between the tank body and the turret, causing the rotating structure to shatter, the turret to jam, or the turret to explode.

Can it make a difference in Ukraine?

As mentioned above, Rheinmetall has stated that production will begin 15 to 18 months after the German government’s decision, or approximately a year and a half later. Following that, the first batches will take at least six months to manufacture. Then there’s the training of Ukrainian tank crews, the delivery of tanks to Ukraine, the deployment of tank units, and the attainment of combat readiness.

Even if the German government supports the company’s request today, it will take around three years for the Ukrainian army’s first KF-51 units to reach combat readiness. As a result, this new German tank may have yet to make it to the battlefield.

From 1979 through 2015, the “Leopard 2” tank was produced at an average pace of 98 units per year. If the KF-51 is built from the hull of an old Leopard 2 tank, with the engine, gearbox, and a new turret and equipment installed, Rheinmetall could create 120-150 new tanks every year or 60-70 tanks every six months. It is insufficient for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to have any realistic chance of success.

Read how KF-51 Panther compares against the Russian fourth-generation T-14 Armata tank.


  1. you can compare this and the Abrahams to Russian tanks with the same design flaw you can see what happened to Russian tanks in the Ukraine they have their turrets blown off. But look at a Challenger2 tank the turret slopes up at the front from the main body so any hits will be directed up over the tank. plus the whole turret is as close to the body as possible I reckon a gap of 3 to 4 inches. The new Challenger3 will probably turn out to be the best MBT in the world with it armour, new turret, new barrel, new power house and the new Israeli trophy system only flaw is the number that’s getting converted.

    • you’ll have to dethrone the new Israeli Mcabi tank that is superior to that of the new challenger in all aspects including protection

  2. Some good points but honestly some horrible mistakes. Good point: The KF51 will likely have no impact on the war itself (but can provide security afterwards).

    The “range” is honestly completely bullshit, the Bundeswehr claims a maximum of 5000m. Effective combat range is obviously drastically lower and depends on many different factors. Hilariously enough, you more or less followed the Rheinmetall claim of 50% increased range / transferred energy. Because 5000m*1.5 = 7500m which more or less fits your arbitrary range of 6000m-7000m.

    The supposed combat performance is complete nonsense too, of course. Insurgency warfare differs vastly from a conventional conflict (I know, controversial statement). Therfore, you cannot conclude the performance in a high intensity symmetrical war to Afghanistan.

    But even if you concentrate on insurgency warfare, the KF51 incorporates passive armor, explosive reactive armor and active protection systems. The Strikeshield (APS) technology was demonstrated to be effective in close spaces, ie urban environments.

    The Leopard 2 (don’t state the version you reference for extra credibility, yay) does have similar armor to the KF51. Fuck me, that’s beyond stupid to say.

    The supposed gap is honestly just a horrible analysis on your part. The turret wedge is not a structural part of the turret of the Leopard 2A5 onwards and there is no reason to believe that this changed with the KF51. So if an explosion were sufficient to damage the turret, it would most likely simply blow away the hinges of the wedge…

    The production numbers are straight out of your ass or meaningless, too. Past production cannot predict current or future capacities, especially if the manufacturer is different. Averaging production over all those years is idiotic, we can see that production was much higher at times and much lower at other periods. In any case, production will not start or remain at whatever number you chose, if we look at past references and current programs. At the very least, you would need to provide a timespan of which you took the average.

    How you concluded the maximum amount of tanks produced per year is beyond me.

    Otherwise, the KF51 is only a technology demonstrator. Changes are bound to happen.

    There is more to criticize, but whatever.

    To summarise, the KF 51 is as much as an upgrade to the Leopard 2 as conducting fundamental research would be to your role as journalist. Nothing short of revolutionary.

    Wedge =/= turret:


    Advertisement from Rheinmetall:

  3. There is a reason that the Panther would perform better: the turkish, danish and canadian Leopards had armour from the 80s and 90s. Rubbish article from a Putler Troll.

  4. Indians are still but-hurt that they wer’re scre*ed over by the Russians with the T-90 hoax. I’m sorry but you’ve bought some T72s that we’re renamed to T-90S because their performance in Chechnya was so disastrous..How many billions your government paid for those wannabe modern tanks? HAHAHA! And the funny part is that the tanks that we’re supposed to be exported to India are now getting wrecked in Urkaine.

  5. I’m not sure the author of this article can even spell AFV.
    Given that even Rheinmetall Landsysteme only claim the KF51 an upgraded Leopard 2, this is hardly news.

  6. Blatant pro Russian propaganda.Its sad to see a country like India reduced to being a cheerleader for Putin.Russia,or India has nothing that comes close to the “Panther”,it would wipe the floor with anything either can field,except perhaps for the mighty “Arjun”..The Panther crews would be disabled by laughing at such a complete waste of time and money

  7. Joseph,

    it seems that your article is more about your strange and odd grudge against free Western democracies than about reasonably good attempt on honest journalism.

    I’m afraid that it lacks facts and reeks of, well, I don’t honestly know, inferiority complex?

    You may either start seeing a therapist that may or may not help you to find out the origins of your axe grinding or maybe help you understand why supporting a murderous regime is morally wrong for a Buddhist.

    Either way, all Russian military technology relies on Western components and the deals made by India to counterbalance Chinese military should take into consideration the inferiority of Russian products.

    I hope you will learn how to deal with your anti-freedom demons and improve your journalistic skills.

    All the best.

  8. As a matter of course, no one here has mentioned one of the most horrific aspects of armored warfare. And that is that the crew members are incinerated, killed by concussion and fragmentation and mutilated when an anti tank shell, missile or RPG penetrates the tanks armor. The deaths and injuries sustained by tankers are horrific an d hideously grotesque.
    While people discuss armored fighting vehicles, they rarely mention this reality of modern armored warfare.A very disturbing macabre ending that occurs to the losing vehicles crew members..


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