One of the most popular and potent tanks of Western origin is the Leopard 2 tank from the German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW). It is the only tank being manufactured at the moment in Europe.
Germany will donate 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks and a recovery tank on the same platform to the Czech army in the upcoming months. Additionally, the Czech government is getting ready to negotiate the purchase of about 50 brand-new Leopard 2A7 tanks.
As the German army lacks any older tanks suitable for donation, the donated tanks will come from the reserves held by German companies. The tanks undergo technical evaluations and repairs before delivery to ensure full functionality. The German government will pay for the cost of upgrading the tanks and providing ammunition and support gear. The modernization of the A4 version to the A7 version is also scheduled for after 2025, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
In recent years, the German Bundeswehr (Army) has been operating similarly. All of the original A4 tanks the German army has been using since the 1980s and 1990s were modified to the A6, A7, and A7V levels. KMW is modernizing older models of the Leopard 2 tank and building new tanks for foreign customers as part of the ongoing technological development of the tank’s design and enhancement of its performance and combat abilities.
This is good news for the Czech army because if new tanks are bought from KMW, it will have access to far more technologically advanced equipment than what is currently used by NATO and non-Alliance armies. Future tanks for the Czech Army could resemble the Leopard 2A7 demonstrator recently on display at Eurosatory 2022.
The first Leopard 2 tank, whose production started in 1979, eventually became the default tank for the Bundeswehr, other members of the North Atlantic Alliance, and other nations. Over many years, KMW created several revisions and improvements that kept the tank at the cutting edge of engineering. Even the most recent Leopard 2A7 model, which the German military began using in 2014, is not the last in the series. For instance, the Leopard 2A7V iteration was developed a few years ago and tailored to the needs of the Bundeswehr, or the Leopard 2A7+ version, which was improved based on suggestions from a few foreign customers.
KMW’s latest Leopard 2A7 demonstrator tank
KMW Eurosatory 2022 Leopard 2A7 demonstrator tank has new components that improve its combat abilities, mobility, and crew protection in response to the latest threats on the modern battlefield. The size and placement of the crew, as well as the fundamental design of the tank, have not changed. The commander, gunner, and loader work in the turret, as is customary with all German armoured vehicles, while the driver occupies the front portion of the body on the right. The demonstrator, therefore, continues using the manual cannon loading system. The main gun is an enhanced variation of the 120 mm calibre, 55 mm long A1 type of the trusted L55 tank gun. The cannon can fire modern armour-piercing projectiles, programmable universal high-explosive ammunition, and the new APFSDS anti-armour stabilized ammunition.
The Leopard 2 tank carries a total of 42 pieces of ammunition, just like earlier iterations of the Leopard 2. A 7.62 mm coaxial light machine gun, installed to the cannon’s left, serves as the backup weapon. The tower now houses a brand-new remote-controlled Kongsberg Protector RWS weapon station with a 12.7 mm M2 heavy machine gun. This protects the tank from nearby ground threats and surveillance drones.
The demonstrator on display at Eurosatory has new modular armouring on the hull and turret that significantly improves the resistance against APC shells and anti-tank guided missiles. The crew in the tower is shielded from all sides by the modules of the new armour. On the hull, they are mostly in the front and on the sides.
Additionally reinforced was the body’s floor, providing the crew with even greater protection from the explosions of anti-tank mines and improvised explosive devices. The German-made EuroTrophy hard-kill category active protection system, an alternative to the Israeli Trophy system, has also recently increased the tank’s resistance. Compared to the earlier versions of the A5, A6, and A7, the tower’s shape has changed somewhat since the installation of the EuroTrophy system modules. The roof of the tower also received the effectors of this defence system. The Puma infantry fighting vehicle’s PERI RTWL command periscope is a new addition to the demonstrator’s equipment. In addition to a laser radiation warning system, it is equipped with a comprehensive observation system, a third-generation infrared camera, a laser rangefinder, and new gyroscopes with optical fibres.
The demonstrator’s maximum combat weight is up to 64.4 t. A powerpack with a twelve-cylinder, liquid-cooled MTU MB 873 Ka-501 diesel engine with two turbochargers and a maximum output of 1100 kW at 2600 rpm propels this weight. A fully automatic Renk HSWL 354 transmission with four forward and two reverse gears that can be selected from the driver’s seat transfers its power to the drive wheels. The cooling system of the powerpack has been enhanced compared to earlier Leopard 2 iterations.
Additionally, the tank has a 20 kW auxiliary power unit. The demonstrator of the most recent Leopard 2A7 model has a 400 km driving range and can travel at a top speed of 60 km/h on paved roads. It can climb a gradient as steep as 60%. The lateral tilt may be as high as 30%. The tank can also pass through trenches that are 3 metres wide and up to 1 metre in height.