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German Army To Receive 104 Modified Leopard Battle Tanks

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German Army To Receive 104 Modified Leopard Battle Tanks

Leopard 2A5. Source: Bundeswehr

Based on BMPD’s article

On September 27, 2017 German Rheinmetall group reported that it had been contracted to modify 104 Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) into more advanced Leopard 2A7V MBTs for the German Army (the Bundeswehr) for 118 million euros. The MBTs are to be delivered in 2020.

68 Leopard 2A4 MBTs, 16 Leopard 2A6 and 20 Leopard 2A7 are the ones to be modified. Although only 20 2A7s are now employed by the Bundeswehr.

68 Leopard 2A4 MBTs will be bought out from the Swedish Army, and 16 Leopard 2A6 MBTs similarly will be bought out from the Netherlands Army.

This plan was announced by German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen in April of 2016 as a part of the plan to have the Bundeswehr strengthened by 2020. One of the priorities of this plan is increasing the number of MBTs from 225 to 320.

According to the HEER2011 plan, the Bundeswehr tank park has only 225 Leopard 2 advanced tanks in its employ since 2012: 155 Leopard 2A6 units, 50 Leopard 2A6M units and 20 modified Leopard 2A7 units. 176 of those units are part of the tank battalions (44 units per battalion), and 49 of those are training units. The Bundeswehr also has two reserve tank battalions not supplied with tanks that are “borrowing” the tanks of active battalions for training. The new tanks will be used to reactivate these battalions.

After delivering 104 modified Leopard 2A7V tanks (including the 20 modified Leopard 2A7 units) the Bundeswehr will still have 105 Leopard 2A6 and 50 Leopard 2A6M tanks. 11 more Leopard 2A5 tanks are to be returned from storage in Krauss-Maffei Wegmann company mainly for testing purposes.

Leopard 2A7V is a Rheinmetall group developed modification of Leopard 2A7 unit and the competitor to KMW suggested modification Leopard 2A7+. In the end the Army chose Leopard 2A7V. V stands for “Verbessert” — modified, and at the same time the index A7V is a historical homage to a hundred year anniversary of the first German tank A7V.

According to earlier Rheinmetall reports, Leopard 2A7V tanks must have been supplied with 120mm L55A1 cannons, but now only 68 modified Leopard 2A4 tanks will receive the update from their old L44 cannons; the rest 36 Leopard 2A6/A7 tanks will remain with their L55 cannons intact.

The L55A1 cannon has been in Rheinmetall development since 2004 as an initiative with government support and is an update to the L55 cannon surmounted on Leopard 2A6/A7. L55A1 is supposed to have more barrel pressure (700 MPa as opposed to 670 MPa of the L55) and the barrell life of 1500 shots (ammo type not specified) with a modified ejector, and an advance K900 stopper system. This pressure distinction does not make that much of a difference with DM53 armor-piercing rounds (starting speed of 1750 m per second with 575 MPa pressure) and DM63/63A1 (speed of 1720 m per second) compared to L55 cannon, though it would prove useful for the anticipated Rheinmetall KE2020 armor-piercing rounds around 2022. By means of using new amorce, a better aerodynamic form and a cobalt wolframite core, the destructive ability of KE2020 would be 20% more than DM63/63A1.

Besides the L55A1 cannon, Leopard 2A7V should add a climate control system, a 17 kW auxiliary Steyr M12 diesel generator, a Thales SOTAS voice conversation system, an IFIS battle control system, a better commander aim device and pointer system using Airbus ATTICA thermal viewers, a Saab Barracuda multispectral camouflage coating system, a better anti-mine defence system, MKM (Munitionskommunizierungsmodul) programming system for programmable demolition rounds DM11. All the rest (including armour) must be equivalent to Leopard 2A7 level. It’s not clear exactly which of these modifications are in the contract judging from Rheinmetall report. The only confirmed thing is the DM11 rounds system.

The first two 2A7V demo prototypes should be handed over to the Bundeswehr for testing in the Q3 2018.

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