Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank
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Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank
Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank

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The Leopard 2 is, undoubtedly, one of the most sucessfull projects of the last generation of main battle tanks, with over 3,200 units produced. The Leopard 2 is in service with the armies of Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain. The Finnish Army is buying 124 and the Polish Army 128 used Leopard 2A4 tanks from Germany. In August 2005, Greece placed an order for 183 used Leopard 2A4 and 150 Leopard 1A5 tanks from the Bundeswehr reserves. In November 2005, an agreement was signed for the sale of 298 German army Leopard 2A4 tanks to Turkey. Deliveries are planned for early 2006-07.
The German Army is upgrading 225 2A5 tanks to 2A6 configuration, the first of which was delivered in March 2001. The Royal Netherlands Army has ordered the upgrade of 180 of its 2A5 tanks to 2A6 configuration, the first of which entered service in February 2003. In March 2003, the Hellenic Army of Greece ordered 170 Leopard 2 HEL (a version of the 2A6EX) for delivery between 2006 and 2009.
Spain has ordered 219 Leopard 2E (a version of the 2A6 with greater armour protection), 16 recovery tanks (CREC) and 4 training vehicles. The first 30 are being built by KMW and the rest are being license-built in Spain by General Dynamics, Santa Barbara Sistemas (GDSBS). The first tank was handed over to the Spanish Army in June 2004 and deliveries should complete in 2008. Another variant is the Leopard 2(S), which has a new command and control system and new passive armour system. 120 Leopard 2(S) have been delivered to the Swedish Army. Deliveries concluded in March 2002.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH has developed a mine protection system for the Leopard 2, following a concept definition by an international working group from Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, under the lead of the German procurement agency BWB. An order placed in September 2003 involves the modification of 15 Leopard 2A6 tanks for the German Army and ten Leopard 2A5 (Strv 122) for Sweden. The first mine-protected tank was delivered in July 2004.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH latest development of the Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank series is a new technology demonstrator model intended for peacemaking and peacekeeping deployments, the Leopard 2 PSO (Peace Support Operations). The Leopard 2 PSO was officially presented at the 2006 Eurosatory.

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History
The development of the Leopard 2 MBT can be traced back to a project started in the 1960's. At this time Germany and the United States were still working on the MBT-70 program, so this project had a very low priority.
While Germany and the United States were developing the MBT/KPz-70, their agreement did not allow a parallel national tank program, but when the Leopard 1 MBT was introduced into service in 1965 Porsche was awarded a contract to develop improved components to increase its combat effectiveness to the standard demanded by the MBT/KPz-70. This program lasted until 1967, when the contract expired, and became known as 'Vergoldeter Leopard' or 'Gilded Leopard'.
When the first cracks appeared in 1967 in the German/American cooperation program for joint development of the MBT/KPz-70, the German Ministry of Defense decided to continue and to increase the development of the 'Vergoldeter Leopard', which later became known as 'Keiler' (Wild Boar).

Krauss-Maffei of Munich was chosen as the main contractor, with Porsche involved in the development of the chassis and Wegmann in that of the turret. In 1969 and 1970 two prototypes (ET 01 and ET 02), both powered by the 10 cylinder MB 872 engine, were built for further evaluation. In late 1969, with the end of the development program for the German/American tank, the German Office for Defense Technology and Procurement initiated a study to save at least the majority of the MBT/KPz-70 development program. This was an attempt to combine parts of the abandoned MBT/KPz-70 program with components of the experimental tank, and became known as 'Eiler' (Boar) but never reached prototype status.

In early 1970, the German Ministry of Defense recommended the development of the 'Vergoldeter Leopard' to be continued with the adoption of the MTU engine developed for the MBT/Kpz-70 in order to take advantage of the further experience that had already been acquired with it. Another seven vehicles were ordered, with Krauss-Maffei again chosen as the main contractor.
The prototypes looked at first glance very much like the Leopard 1 A4, but with a wedge-shaped bow and an exhaust grille moved to the rear plate. The roadwheels came from the MBT/KPz-70, and the return rollers from the Leopard 1. The engine also came from the MBT/KPz-70, a 12 cylinder MTU MB-873 Ka-500 water-cooled multi-fuel four-stroke engine, together with its 20 kW generator, gearbox, air filters, and the cooling and braking systems, forming a compact group that could be easily replaced in 15 minutes. Ten of the seventeen turrets built were fitted with a 105 mm smooth bore gun while the remaining seven had a 120 mm smooth bore gun, both designed and produced by Rheinmetall.
When the first analysis of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 became available, it became clear that increased armor protection would be a decisive factor in the future. The outcome was a decision of upgrade the Leopard 2 to MLC 60 (Military Loading Class 60 tons), which would allow increased armor, and to modify one of the turrets with a new multi-layer type of armor. This resulted in a breakthrough in the Leopard 2 program and the first step towards the Leopard 2 AV.

During 1973, negotiations began between the United States and Germany to standardize certain components of both nations main battle tanks of the eighties. As a result of this, by 1976 it was agreed to study how Leopard 2 could be modified to meet US performance and constraints. Based on the altered German and US military demands, Porsche, Krauss-Maffei, and Wegmann designed and built the Leopard 2 AV (Austere Version).

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Modifications included the new multi-layered (much like the British developed "Chobham" armor, which consisted of layers of steel and ceramics) armor on the hull and a new turret with a less sophisticated fire control system. Two chassis and three turrets were built, and were ready in 1976. The first prototype had a turret with a Hughes fire control system and a L7A3 105 mm main gun. The second one was equipped with the same gun, but provisions were made to allow a quick adoption of the Rheinmetall 120 mm smooth bore main gun. The third turret had a German fire control system, including the EMES 13, and was to be used in the German test program. An additional turret was built and was identical as the third, but had the Rheinmetall 120 mm smooth bore main gun installed from the beginning.
The Leopard 2 AV was originally intended to be tested as the same time with the XM1, but the German modification program took longer than expected. The US Army therefore proceeded with the evaluation of the XM1 prototypes built by Chrysler and General Motors, and ultimately decided to launch full-scale development of the Chrysler design.
However, the German prototypes arrived in the US by the end of August 1976 and comparative tests between the Leopard 2 AV and the XM1 prototypes were done at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, lasting until December 1976. The US Army reported that the Leopard 2 AV and the XM1 were comparable in firepower and field mobility but the XM1 was superior in armor protection, and so the XM1 was selected. After the comparative test the Leopard 2 AV prototypes were returned to Germany for further evaluation tests.

In September 1977 the German MoD formally decided to go ahead with plans for production of 1,800 Leopard 2, which were to be delivered in five batches. From the original group of companies bidding for the contract, Krauss-Maffei was chosen as the main contractor and systems manager. MaK became sub contractor and production was to be shared between the two companies on the basis of 55% for Krauss-Maffei and 45% for MaK. Wegmann, as turret integrator, received full responsibility for coordination the integration of the EMES 15 fire control. The EMES 15 fire control was developed by Hughes in cooperation between Krupp Atlas Elektronik, with the 120 mm smooth bore high-performance main gun supplied by Rheinmetall with the turret.
Without doubt, at the time of its introduction (1979), the Leopard 2 was the most advanced tank in the world. The Germans succeeded in designing a tank with high success in all three areas of tank design: mobility, firepower, and armor protection.
Until then, tank designers had only been able to achieve two of these objectives at once. The British Chieftain, for instance, had a pretty good gun and good armor, but very poor mobility. At the other end of the scale was the French AMX-30, which had good mobility, an adequate gun, but weak armor.

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Series Production
A total of 380 Leopard 2 were built in the first batch, 209 by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 10001 to 10210) and 171 by Mak (chassis nbr. 20001 to 20172), with the first six delivered in 1979 to Kampftruppenschule 2 in Münster. Another 100 were delivered in 1980 and 229 in 1981, replacing the M48A2G in units among I (GE) Corps. The first Leopard 2 went to Panzerbattalions 31, 33 and 34 of 1 Panzerdivision, with partially parallel delivery to Panzerbattalions 81, 85 and 84 of 5 Panzerdivision. The Leopard 1s then in service were passed to the Panzerbattalions of the Panzergrenadier Divisions, were they replaced the M48A2G. By 1982 production was running at 300 a year, with the last first batch Leopard 2 delivered in March of that year.
The combat weight of the Leopard 2 is 55,000 kg, empty weight being 52,000 kg, and its hull has spaced multi-layer armor. The running gear consists of seven dual rubber-tyred road wheels and four return rollers per side, with the idler wheel at the front and drive sprocket at the rear.
Torsion bar suspension is employed, with advanced friction dampers provided. The Diehl 570F tracks, with rubber-bashed end connectors, have removable rubber pads and use 82 links on each track. For use in icy ground, up to 18 rubber pads can be replaced by the same number of grousers, which are stored in the vehicle's bow when not in use. The first four sessions of the side skirts are heavily armored, and must be raised for rail transport. The remaining sessions are made of standard rubber and metal fabric and are hinged to swing upward if neccessary.
The driver's station is located at the front, offset to the right of the vehicle's center line. A large, pintle-mounted lift-and-swing type hatch is provided for the driver and opens to the right. There are two observation periscopes in the driver's hatch, plus one to the left of his section, for use when driving closed down. The central periscope (in the hatch) can be exchanged for a passive IR-sight for night operations. An escape hatch is provided under the driver's seat.
The turret, incorporating multi layer armor, is mounted in the center of the hull and is manned by the commander and gunner in the right half, with the loader in the left half. The commander and the loader each have a circular hatch, opening to the rear, and six periscopes provide all-round vision for the commander. Both hatches have ring mounts for the 7.62 mm MG-3 air defense machine gun, though it is normally installed on the loader's hatch.

The 120 mm Rheinmetall main gun is fully stabilized in both azimuth and elevation, and the WNA-H22 electro-hidraulic gun control system is fitted. The gun fires two types of ammunition, both developed by Rheinmetall APFSDS-T, known as DM-33 KE (Kinetische Energy), and HEAT-MP-T, known as DM-12 MZ (Mehrzweck = multipurpose), both types having combustible cases. 27 rounds of 120 mm ammunition are stored in a special magazine in the forward section of the hull, to the left of the driver's station - additional 15 (making a total of 42) are stored in the left side of the turret bustle, and separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically operated door. Should the ammunition in the bustle be hit, blow-off panels in the turret roof would direct any explosion upwards. A co-axial 7.620mm MG 3is mounted to the left of the main gun and 4,750 rounds of machine gun ammunition are carried.

The thermal sight for the gunner's EMES 15 primary sight was not ready during production of the first batch, though all vehicles were prepared to be so equipped at a later stage. To provide an improvised night fighting capability for first batch vehicles, the Panzer-Ziel-und-Beobachtungsgerät (PZB) 200ow light TV system (LLLTV) was temporarily fitted to 200 Leopard 2 The EMES 15/FLT-2 fire control system consists of: gunner's primary sight with mirror stabilized in azimuth and elevation laser transmitter and receiver thermal imaging system and eye piece assembly commander's and gunner's control units commander's display unit computer control unit commander's joy-stick hand control digital ballistic computer, which calculates the relevant data for a firing solution cross wind velocity sensor (first batch only) gun elevation sensor laser electronics box cant angle sensor interconnecting cable set. The gunner also has an auxiliary telescope FERO-Z18 with a magnification of x8, mounted co-axially to the right of the main gun. An independent and fully stabilized PERI R-17 primary panoramic sight, made by Carl Zeiss and with magnifications of x2 and x8, is installed at the front of the commander's station. This sight can be traversed through 360 degrees and allows the commander to override the gunner's control if necessary. An ammunition supply hatch opening outward, is provided in the left side of the turret side. Two groups of four 76 mm Wegmann smoke mortars are mounted on either side of the turret and can be electrically fired either as single rounds or in salvos of four.

Two SEM 25/SEM35 radio sets are fitted behind the commander in the rear right of the turret bustle. The radio antennae are mounted to the left and right behind crew stations.
The engine compartment is at the rear, separated from the fighting compartment by a fireproof bulkhead. The MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled 47.6 litre V-12 cylinder 4-stroke exhaust turbo-charged diesel engine develops 1,104 kW (1,500 PS) at 2,600 rpm. It is started by eight 12-volt/125 Ab batteries and has a 24-volt electrical system. The Leopard 2 maximum road speed is 68 km/h, though it is limited to 50km/h during peacetime, and top reverse is 31 km/h.
Fuel consumption is estimated at around 300 litres per 100 km on roads and 500 litres per 100 km across country. The four fuel tanks have a total capacity of approximately 1,160 litres, giving a maximum road range of about 500 km. The Renk HSWL 354 hydro-kinetic planetary gearbox with integral service brake is coupled to the engine, forming a compact power pack which can be exchanged within 15 minutes. Four forward and two reverse gears are available through a torque converter, enabling the Leopard 2 to turn on the spot if required. The transmission automatically changes gear within the range pre-selected by the driver. The cooling air outlet grille is very prominent across the upper section of the rear plate, and was reinforced after the 28th vehicle built. Exhaust grilles with vertical bars are located to the left and right of the de-airation vents. A fault detection system detects any technical malfunctions. The engine/transmisson powerpack of the Leoperd 2 weighs 6120 kg.
Four 9 kg Halon fire extinguisher bottles are installed on the right behind the driver's station. The bottles are connected to pipes and hoses and are activated automatically by the fire detection system, when temperatures rise above 180° F inside the fighting compartment, or manually via a control panel in the driver's compartment. An extra 2.5 kg Halon fire extinguisher (HAL 2.5) is stored on the floor beneath the main gun. The Leopard 2 has a self-contained NBC protection system, which produces up to 4 mbar (0.004 kp/cm²) over pressure inside the vehicle.
The Leopard 2 is able to ford water obstacles 1.20 m deep (wading) without any preparation, and to ford at a depth of 2.25 m (deep wading) with special preparation. About 15 minutes preparation is required to get the tank ready for crossing water obstacles at a depth of 4 ma (underwater driving), including the fitting of a special three-piece snorkel to the commander's cupola.

Production of the second batch began in March 1982 and ended in November 1983. Of the 450 vehicles built, 248 were built by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 10211 to 10458) and 202 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20173 to 20347). The most significant changes were the deletion of the cross wind velocity sensor, and that the protection over the optical blocks at the commander's station was now faceted shape. The tank thermal sight, based on the common modules provided by Texas Instruments and built by Carl Zeiss, was now fitted to the gunner's EMES 15 primary sight and the gun control system was included in the fault detection system. The fuel filters were repositioned, considerably reducing the time required for refuelling. An external head-set connection was added to the left rear of the turret side. The racks of ammunition stowage were identical to those that were to be fitted to the M1A1 Abrams. Two foot boards were attached to the power pack, thus avoiding damage to the steering system and the electrical wiring and plugs during maintenance with the deck removed. The tow cable clamps on the rear deck were repositioned and the cables, now 5 m long, were crossed on the rear plate. Due to these numerous changes, this version was designated the Leopard 2 A1 .
The 300 Leopard 2 of the third batch were built between November 1983 and November 1984, 165 by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 10459 to 10623) and 135 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20375 to 20509). The most notable changes were the addition of a deflector, which raised the position of the commander's PERI R-17 primary panoramic sight by 50 mm, and a larger cover plate fitted on top of the NBC protection system. These modifications were subsequently also carried out to the second batch vehicles. The third batch vehicles were also designated Leopard 2 A1 .
The fourth batch was built between December 1984 and December 1985. Of the 300 vehicles delivered, 165 were built by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 10624 to 10788), and 135 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20510 to 20644). The most significant changes were the installation of new digital SEM 80/90 VHF radios and revised exhaust grilles with circular bars. The ammunition supply hatches were welded shut (risk of leaking if turret was hit). The vehicles of this batch were designated the Leopard 2 A3 .
Between December 1985 and March 1987, 370 vehicles were delivered, with 190 being built by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 10789 to 10979), and the remaining 180 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20645 to 20825). In this batch, the fire control was fitted with a digital core to facilitate the use of new ammunition, and to improve the crew's survivability a fire and explosion suppression system developed by Deugra was installed. The return rollers were repositioned. The turret protection level was increased to more than 700mm for KE and 1000mm for HEAT. The vehicles of this batch were designated Leopard 2 A4 .
Although only five batches were originally intended to be built, an order for a sixth batch of 150 vehicles was placed in june 1987, and 83 were built by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 10980 to 11062) and 67 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20826 to 20892), between January 1988 and May 1989. New features in this batch were the installation of maintenance-free batteries, the introduction of Diehl 570FT tracks, and the use of zinc cromate free paint. The central warning light was now installed in a small housing on the hull, in front of the driver's station, for better observation by the driver when driving head-out.The ammunition supply hatch in the left side of the turret was deleted. The vehicles of this batch were also designated Leopard 2 A4 .

Production of 100 seventh batch vehicles began in May 1989 and ended in April 1990, with 55 built by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 11063 to 11117) and 45 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20893 to 20937) . The vehicles of this batch were identical to the late sixth batch vehicles and also called Leopard 2 A4 .
Between January 1991 and March 1992 75 vehicles were delivered, with 41 built by Krauss-Maffei (chassis nbr. 11118 to 11158) and 34 by MaK (chassis nbr. 20938 to 20971). Changes included slight modifications of the base mounts for the smoke mortars, and later on a collimator for the muzzle reference system was fitted to the right side of the 120 mm main gun, near the barrel's end, and was subsequently retrofitted to the vehicles of previous batches. The muzzle reference system allows a quick check for the gunner of the distortion of the gun barrel in relation to the sight optics. The vehicles of this batch were also designated Leopard 2 A4 . The final Leopard 2 A4 of the eight batch was delivered to the Gebirgs-Panzerbattalion 8 (Mountain Tank Battalion) on 19 March 1992, in a official ceremony in Munich.
After delivery of the last eight batch vehicle, there were 2.125 Leopard 2 A4 in service with the Bundeswehr. The Leopard 2 was designed to meet the requirements of modern mobile combat to counter the Soviet threat to Central Europe. It used the most advanced technologies available at the time, to achieve enhanced performance, with optimal results in the combination of armor protection, firepower, and mobility; which placed it among the leaders in modern tank design.

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The improved Leopard 2 - LEOPARD 2 A5 KWS II
In a modern world the pressure for modernization is a matter of course, but in the field of military technology it is a bitter reality. With the appearence of modern and capable Soviet tanks such as the T-64 B and T-80 B, equipped with a high-performance 125 mm smoothbore gun capable of firing guided missiles, the development of an even better Leopard 2 was demanded. However, cooperation between nations over their tank industries can be difficult. After the cancellation of a joint French-German tank development project in November 1982, Germany extended the concept phase for a Leopard 3 in March 1983 to last until 1996. Several alternatives had to be examined, including production of additional Leopard 2, improvement of the Leopard 2, development of a new turret for the Leopard 2 with a crew of four or with a crew of three with an automatic loader, or still the development of an entirely new hull and turret.
The development of improved components for the Leopard 2 was finally favoured, and in 1989 the Leopard 2 KVT (Komponentenversuchsträger - component trial vehicle) was built and tested. This vehicle was fitted with additional armor, spall liners in the fighting compartment, a new electrically-driven sliding hatch for the driver, new hatches for the commander and loader, and increased reactive and passive armor on the turret roof. The EMES-15 was raised and received an armored housing, and the PERI-17, now including an independent thermal sight channel, was relocated to the left rear of the commander's section. This prototype had a total weight of 60,500 kg. After the trials, this vehicle was converted into the IVT (Instrumentenversuchsträger - experimental vehicle for instruments) and joined the IFIS (integrated command and information system) development program carried out between 1988 and 1992, which researched in cooperation with the US the more efficient way to the management and use of gathered information. After evaluation of the development tests with with the KVT, two prototypes were built in 1991 by Krauss-Maffei for the improvement program, known as KWS.
The overwhelming political changes within the Eastern Block, and the resulting decreasing defense budgets definitely modified the improvement program. An alternative improvement program was initiated, divided into three stages, and known as KWS I, KWS II, and KWS III (the Roman numerals do not denote chronological order).
KWS I consisted of the adoption of a longer L/55 120 mm main gun and the use of improved ammunition, having an increased muzzle velocity of 1,800 m/s (OBS: This program resulted in the Leopard 2 A6).
KWS II was the development of increased armor protection for the crew and improved command and control system capabilities (OBS: This program resulted in the Leopard 2 A5).
KWS III consisted of the adoption of a 140mm main gun

On October 1991, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany decided for cooperation in a development program for KWS II. The first Leopard 2 A5 were officially delivered to the German Army School on 30 November 1995. Chassis of the sixth, seventh, and eight batches were to be used for the conversion program and to receive reworked and modified turrets taken from tanks of the first four batches. Modernization of the chassis were to be carried out by Krauss-Maffei and MaK while Wegmann and Rheinmetall became responsible for the turrets.
The most significant change to the hull of the Leopard 2 A5 is the new driver's hatch, which is now electronically operated and slides to the right to open. A deflector is mounted to the left of the driver's station, with stowage brackets for camouflage support poles. A camera mounted above the rear cooling air outlet is connected to a monitor on the driver's dashboard to enable him to reverse at high speed, without needing directions for the commander. The road wheels are now made of steel, replacing those made of aluminium.
The turret front and sides are fitted with wedge-shaped add-on armor in sections, which can easily be replaced by field workshops if hit or, at a later stage, be replaced by more advanced armor. The side panels of this extra armor are hinged to swing forward, neccessary when engine is to be replaced. The gun mantlet was completely redesigned, and additional stowage boxes are fitted to the turret rear and sides. The interior of the turret is now fitted with a spall liner for improved protection against splinters. The electro-hydraulic gun control and stabilization system was replaced by an all-electric system. The optical FERO Z-18 auxiliary telescope was relocated to a position on top of the gun mantlet, and the commander's PERI-R 17 panoramic sight has been moved to the left rear of the commander's station. The commander's improved independent sight now includes a thermal channel whose image is displayed on a monitor on the commander's station. The laser range data processor was modified so that the Leopard 2 A5 can now engage helicopters with APFSDS-T ammunition, and a GPS vehicle navigation system is built in with the GPS antenna installed at the rear of the turret roof.
The additional armor has increased the combat weight of the Leopard 2 A5 to 59,500 kg, which has not affected the mobility, as the vehicle was designed to accept such an increase.

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The Leopard 2 A6

The Leopard 2E, of the Spanish Army, showing the extra armor on the front hull, and the new 120mm L55 gun.

Spain has ordered 219 Leopard 2E (a version of the Leopard 2A6 with greater armor protection) and 16 Leopard 2ER recovery vehicles, and four Leopard 2 driver training vehicles. The first 30 are being built by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH, and the rest will by licence-built in Spain by General Dynamics, Santa Barbara Sistemas (GDSBS). Deliveries of the first batch began in 2004 and should complete in 2008.
The Spanish version has some changes compared to basic A6 model beside more armor, including an Indra/KAE LINCE C2 system, Indra 2nd gen TI for gunner and TC, a new Indra 3rd gen passive scope for the driver and Spanish PR4GE (license built 2ng gen PR4G digital frequency hopping radios) with data modem for wireless secure data transmission.

Firepower

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The Leopard 2E - of the Spanish Army

A new smoothbore gun, the 120 millimeter L55 Gun, has been developed by Rheinmetall GmbH of Ratingen, Germany to replace the shorter 120 millimeter L44 smoothbore tank gun on the Leopard 2.
The 120 millimeter L44 gun barrel has a length of 530 cm and weighs 1,190 kg. The whole gun weighs 3,780 kg. By comparison, the 120 millimeter L55 gun barrel has a length of 660 cm and weighs 1,374 kg. The whole L55 gun weighs 4,160 kg. The extension of the barrel length from caliber length 44 to caliber length 55 (130 cm) results in a greater portion of the available energy in the barrel to be converted into projectile velocity.
An important characteristic of the new L55 gun is its compatibility with the Leopard 2 weapons system, meaning that it can be integrated without substantial alterations. The external geometry of the gun was designed to minimize the phenomenon of static sagging, as well as to achieve optimum constant curvature. With respect to both of these factors, the form of the barrel selected for the L55 plays a critical role. This was a prerequisite for the system's high first-shot hit probability. The L55 gun can fire any standard 120 mm round.
Especially when using the new DM 53 KE round, the L55 enables approximately an 30 percent increase in performance compared with conventional systems. For example, when fired from the longer barrel, the DM 53 (LKE II) KE round attains a muzzle velocity in excess of 1,750 m/s.
The L55 smoothbore gun, equipped with a thermal sleeve, a fume extractor and a muzzle reference system, is compatible with current 120mm ammunition and new high penetration ammunition.
An improved kinetic energy ammunition known as LKE II was developed as a result of a Tactical Requirement issued in November 1987, and uses the longer gun barrel. The effect of the kinetic energy projectile on an enemy target is achieved by 1) the penetrator length and projectile mass and the impact velocity and 2) the interaction between the projectile and the target. The penetrator material is heavy tungsten powder in a monoblock structure. The improved kinetic energy ammunition has higher muzzle energy and recoil forces.
Rheinmetall's latest ammunition developments for the Leopard 2 include the DM 43 A1 120mm KE cartridge, DM 53 120mm LKE cartridge and the new 120 MP cartridge.
The Leopard 2 A6 lethality effectiveness is especially due to the development, by Rheinmetall W & M, of a smoothbore gun system. Based on the military requirement for firepower enhancement, Rheinmetall W & M further improved the performance of this gun and pertaining KE-ammunition. A 130 cm increase in barrel length plus other modifications (the chamber can support higher pressure from new propellants) resulted in a higher projectile velocity and increased KE-performance. Estimated muzzle kinetic energy, firing the APFSDS DM 53 (LKE II) round, is around 18-20 megajoules (MJ). The 120 mm L55 weapon is compatible with the current MBT-types in service throughout NATO, as they can easily be retrofitted.
The New Rheinmetall 120mm L55 Gun:
The 120 mm L55 hyper-velocity gun: a 130 cm increase in barrel length plus other modifications resulted in a higher projectile velocity and increased KE-performance. A further performance increase of the Leopard 2A6 was achieved by the introduction of the DM 53 (LKE II) tungsten long rod penetrator round. This round has a significantly higher penetrating capability than other current types of KE-rounds and is considered a guideline when equipping current or future systems. Estimated penetration performance of the DM 53 (LKE II) tungsten long rod penetrator round fired by the Rheimetall 120mm L55: 750 mm at 2000 meters.
The secondary target spectrum is covered by the other ultra-modern secondary rounds (HE and MP).

Protection

The Leopard 2A6, despite all weight gain (from Military Loading Class 60 to 70 tons) due to repeated armor protection upgrades, plus the new 120mm L55 gun, retains all the traditional maneuverability of this MBT series. Above, a Leopard 2A6 demonstrates the MBT's capability to cross a small river.

The Leopard 2 A6 is protected by third generation composite armor, with the additional reinforcement to the turret frontal and lateral armor with externally mounted add-on armor modules. In the event of weapon penetration through the armour, a spall liner reduces the number of fragments and narrows the fragment cone. The spall liner also provides noise and thermal insulation. The reinforcement provides protection against multiple strike, kinetic energy rounds and shaped charges.
The charts below show the armor protection improvements implemented on the last Leopard 2 models: [...]

http://www.fprado.com/armorsite/leo2.htm

http://www.haaland.info/armour/

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Thucydides

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Carl Schurz

"Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms."
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"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Thucydides
2012 Mar 28 18:58
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Volkov
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RE: Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank
The best MBT in the World at the Moment along with the M1A1 Abrams and the T90 and upcoming T99.
2012 May 08 19:39
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Jarmo
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RE: Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank
Panzerkampf.

Bosnia:

= 145 Leopard 1 in strenght.

Sweden:

= 120 Leopard 2A5 in strenght.
(This post was last modified: 2015 Apr 14 20:16 by Jarmo.)
2015 Apr 13 13:18
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Jarmo
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Post: #4
RE: Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank
(2012 May 08 19:39)Volkov Wrote:  The best MBT in the World at the Moment along with the M1A1 Abrams and the T90 and upcoming T99.

Thinking Leopard 2A7, Leclerc, Abrams, T-90 and T-99 are best. Near exact like you thinks.
2015 Apr 13 14:02
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