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The Leopard 2 Thread


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9 hours ago, unreason said:

Why? What does K2 really add to justify the added expense of retraining and changing the stock of spare parts when both tanks are rendered obsolete by Armata?
At this point, it should be pretty obvious that the Norwegian and Polish programs aren't so much about acquiring a cutting edge tank for the next 20-30 years as they are about just barely keeping pace with the neighbours until a western tank with an unmanned turret becomes available.

 

Hmmm, I see you've run afoul of the forum's "no anime avatars" rule...

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12 hours ago, Atokara said:

The electronics systems and battle management systems that Korea has seem to be a much better offering than the Leopard.

 

Based on what? Did South Korea somehow get access to better CPUs and circuit boards in 2008 than Germany did in 2014? Did they somehow produce better thermals years before Germany? How did they end up with a better BMS?

 

The Leopard 2 doesn't have one BMS, it has nearly a dozen. While the South Korean BMS might be better than 1990s IFIS and the old FüInfoSys Heer, there are many different types of BMS integrated into the Leopard 2. Greece uses Rheinmetall's INCHINOS on the Leopard 2A6 HEL, Sweden has the TCCS (Tank Command and Control System), Spain has LINCE integrated into the Leopardo 2E, the German-Dutch Panzerbataillon 414 has tanks capable of operating either with IFIS or with the Dutch ELIAS, Switzerland has a RUAG-made BMS integrated into the Panzer 87WE, Singapore has integrated an Elbit BMS into its Leopard 2SG... the list is long. For the VJTF 2023, Germany has purchased new software from SitaWare... AFAIK the same system is used on the Leopard 2A7DK.

 

 

In terms of technology, I don't see how KMW's offer should be inferior to what Hyundai-Rotem can offer. The Leopard 2A7 is fitted with a Centurion i7 and a KommServer by ATM Computer (a subsidiary of KMW)... that's already overkill for a BMS. Combined these two computers have basically 100 times (or more) the computational power found on M1A2 Abrams and Stridsvagn 122 (pre-upgrade), which already had working types of BMS.

 

Given that Norway was one of the backers of NGVA, they probably demand a solution compliant with STANAG 4754; this would mean that both hardware and software of the current Korean BMS would be incompatible with the Norwegian requirements, whereas KMW already has a fully compliant solution. Software-wise I am 90% sure, that Norway will demand the incorpation of its own Kongsberg ISC, that has already been fielded on the recently upgraded Norwegian CV9030s.

 

12 hours ago, Atokara said:

If Norway is offered KSTAM then that is a massive improvement in terms of firepower.

 

Two things would need to happen before that:

  1. KSTAM I or KSTAM II would have to enter production
  2. KSTAM I or KSTAM II would have to enter service with the ROKA

While KSTAM sounds cool, neither KSTAM I nor KSTAM II has evolved beyond the prototype stage. KSTAM II btw. was developed in cooperation with Diehl Defence of Germany, which would have offered the solution on the European market, if development had ever finished.

 

In terms of firepower, K2 is at a disadvantage. Four NATO countries have already committed to the improved L/55A1 smoothbore gun (with two having already taken delivery of tanks with it), the older L/55 gun of the K2 won't allow firing the same high pressure ammunition. The K2 also lacks an ammunition data link to fire programmable ammunition; currently the ROKA uses the K280 HEAT-MP-T round, a conceptual copy of the American M830A1 MPAT round. This cannot compete against the DM11 HE-ABM round.

 

12 hours ago, Atokara said:

The biggest factor is probably future proofing. The K2 is an almost brand new platform and is ready to take on the weight of any future upgrades while the 2A7 is almost 10-15tons heavier than the original 2A4 and isn't exactly in the position to be taking on another 5 tons the next time an upgrade cycle rolls around without seeing some problems. With the MGCS rolling around the Germans obviously aren't going to go "alright shut down all Leopard R&D immediately", but it will definitely take a noticeable hit in terms of first party support as the years tick on.

 

That is true, but only if equate "future proofing" with "weight until the GVW is reached". In reality, there are a lot of other factors to consider. Who will pay for the development of upgrades for the K2NO, if it was selected by Norway? Thanks to the LEOBEN community and the shared IP, the Leopard 2 will see upgrade options even once phased out by Germany. Rheinmetall already has showcased a new turret design with 130 mm gun and autoloader, which Germany will not adopt. Rheinmetall's Leopard 2 ATD and RUAG Leopard 2 MLU are great examples regarding how there will be upgrade options fo the Leopard 2, that haven't been paid by Germany or any other Leopard 2 user nation.

 

Growth potential will also be dependent on user base (a larger number of user is more likely to fund upgrades or to make the market attractive for third-party upgrade options like the Leopard 2 ATD and MLU) and on compability with the existing architecture. The NGVA is a big improvement for that.

 

In the end the weight will also depend on the configuration selected by Norway. Maybe they'll opt for a Swedish-style configuration with only a few tanks having mine protection kits (for use in peace-keeping missions) and the rest of them being 2-3 tonnes lighter.

 

9 hours ago, Atokara said:

Laser warning system, the millimeter radar being integrated offensively and defensively, better placement of the radar than what we have seen with early shots of the 2A7 w/ trophy, automatic target tracking with the FCS, RWR, OECM, better strategic mobility, HP suspension with better recoil dampening. As for parts it's hard to speak on what config it would be delivered in with it's power pack, the problem with Turkey getting the EPP RENK/MTU 883 Ka-501 was the arms embargo, but either way it seems like in 2021 Korea has gotten the kinks sorted out with their domestic solution. If the K2NO can get the EPP then there will be tons of spares. If they go with the Korean PP and Norway still considers it a serious contender then spares will be a non-problem because if they were then the K2 wouldn't be on the table in the first place.

 

A lot of claims, but many of them are hardly relevant. Radar/Laser warning systems are available for any tank as retro-fit option, most militaries however do not consider them cost-effective (I'd personally love to see them on every AFV). There are also RWS/LWS available for the Leopard 2.

 

Having a radar integrated into the turret has up- and downsides. A radar actively emitts radio waves that can be detected by the enemy from huge distances (depending on equipment) - that might be less relevant against North Korea, but against Russia Norway might be interested in a less emissive system.

 

The "better placement of the radar" is also a silly argument - then you are comparing a Leopard 2A7A1 with Trophy APS to a K2 Black Panther - without any APS. KAPS is immature and unproven; it is still in the prototype stage. It also likely would fail to be fully compliant with NATO STANAG 4822 and STANG 4686.

 

Auto-tracking is being incorporated into the Leopard 2Ax's FCS (it is also already available on the Leopard 2 ATD), it will be available in time of the Norwegian tank procurement program. I doubt that the hydropneumatic suspension of the K2 offers better recoil dampening than the hydraulic shock-absorbers of the Leopard 2, specifically given that the latter tank has greater suspension travel.

 

The funny thing about the EuroPowerPack is that it might have "Euro" in its name, but it is not used in Europe. There are no spare parts for it in Europe, they would be build-to-order. The Merkava 4's EPP is built in the United States (so that it can be paid with the money of American tax payers), the UAE's Leclerc tanks (contract finished more than a decade ago) and the South Korean K2 tanks (contract handled by an Asian MTU subsidiary) do not warrant a production line of the EEP in Europe. The latest K2 batch still keeps a Renk transmission btw.

 

9 hours ago, unreason said:

Electronic subsystems like that can be refitted to existing vehicles without significant weight gain, and present no inherent advantage of the base platform. K2 also happens to use a much lighter and more sophisticated APS.

 

That is not true, electronic systems can have a massive impact on weight and system complexity, specifically given the usually small power budget available in AFVs. The K2 only has a - rather poor - softkill APS. KAPS development has never been finished, the system is not ready for production.

 

9 hours ago, unreason said:

Why the Germans would decide on Trophy with even domestic alternatives that outperform it is just puzzling.

 

Because Trophy is mature and cheap.

 

8 hours ago, Atokara said:

The problem is a base K2 even back in 2014 is a lot cheaper than a 2A7+ with all the bells and whistles it currently has (but without APS based on when this doc was written).

https://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/259/290/405/305/quendt.pdf

https://www.defence24.com/hungarian-leopard-mbts-unveiled-what-was-the-cost-analysis

If we just assume that the upgraded K2NO/K2M is around the same price as the 2A7+, it would still more way expensive to just bring the Leopard 2A7 up to a level equal to that of the K2. Even so it would be entirely left up to Norway to figure out how to mount those systems and which systems it would use which is R&D costs on top of that.

 

You cannot simply look at total contract value and then assume that this is identical to vehicle price. Hungary pays a lot more money, because they also want training of their crews (something that would be cheaper when switching from Leopard 2A4 to 2A7+), spare parts (which in some regards already exist in Norway thanks to the Leopard 2A4, Wisent and Leguan Leopard 2), infrastructure (already existing in Norway), ammunition, technical documentation, used tanks for training, etc.

 

The real costs of a tank become apparent through its lifetime. Developing upgrades, ordering spare parts, training and exercies. The Leopard 2 is the king in this regard, specifically for a country like Norway, which is part of NATO and is located next to its closest - Leopard 2 operating - allies. It might not be common in Asia, but NATO countries have very deep cooperation. Spare parts, ammunition and even new vehicles are often ordered either through OCCAR (a NATO agency) or as part of bi-/multi-national procurement programs in order to drive down costs. Training together with foreign soldiers or even in different countries is common, just like exchanging knowledge and - if required - spare parts.

 

Buying the K2 would mean major disadvantages for Norway.

 

8 hours ago, Atokara said:

https://www.gd-ots.com/munitions/artillery/155mm-smart/

The T-14 does have soft ERA mounted on the roof, but the SMArt 155 which the KSTAM-II was modeled off of is advertised as effective against heavily armored targets as well as ERA.

 

Aside of the fact that KSTAM II only exists as showcase models for old expositions, it would not be able to penetrate the roof armor of the T-14. The T-14 does not have "soft ERA" on the roof. SMArt 155 has a 155 mm diameter warhead and can only penetrate 120-150 mm of steel armor; many modern MBTs can be fitted with add-on armor to stop that (including the Leopard 2). KSTAM II with its even smaller warhead is easy to counter. Defeating TOW-2B is possible with light-weight add-on armor (Roof-PRO and AMAP-R).

 

The T-14 is probably the tank with the best roof armor available today.

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8 hours ago, Atokara said:

The problem is a base K2 even back in 2014 is a lot cheaper than a 2A7+ with all the bells and whistles it currently has (but without APS based on when this doc was written).

https://www.cfc.forces.gc.ca/259/290/405/305/quendt.pdf

https://www.defence24.com/hungarian-leopard-mbts-unveiled-what-was-the-cost-analysis

If we just assume that the upgraded K2NO/K2M is around the same price as the 2A7+, it would still more way expensive to just bring the Leopard 2A7 up to a level equal to that of the K2. Even so it would be entirely left up to Norway to figure out how to mount those systems and which systems it would use which is R&D costs on top of that.

The Hungarian contract includes everything needed to introduce an entirely new vehicle to their armed forces, from training to spare parts. Its cost isn't quite applicable to Leo 2 here.

K2's disadvantage regarding Norway is precisely that they don't have to pay for anything beside the upgrade itself if they decide to keep Leopard, while K2 would require expensive changes in crew training and supply management.

 

8 hours ago, Atokara said:

The K2 doesn't use the hollow mantlet like the Leclerc. Either way add-on armor isn't impossible. The Abrams did it with the SEPs, the Leopard did it heavily from 2A4 -> 2A5. I see no reason why it can't be done with the K2 as they advertise that they can do it. 

Leopard 2's mantlet never became better protected, just smaller, by integrating part of the moving mantlet area from 2A4 into the rigid turret cheeks in 2A5.
Since Leclerc's and K2's cheeks are much lower than their mantlets, this solution isn't available to them. The French never got around to it on their uparmouring projects.

 

8 hours ago, Atokara said:

Yeah I explained it pretty poorly the first go around, but I tried clarifying a bit better with an edit. Basically if SK gets the rights to export the EPP then spares can be found in basically every EU country that has tried to export a tank at one point in the last 30 years which is basically everyone. If they go with the Doosan PP then Turkey will have spares along with SK and local production in Norway granted it won't be nearly as readily available which I will admit.

Are you really sure that Turkey will be able to get it done? Russia's economic situation might be bad and progress on Armata glacial at best, but work on Altay is in a much worse state.

Moreover, the Turks are actually developing a domestic powerpack. Funny thing: The company involved is called "British Motor Company" somehow.
Their chances don't look too good if even Korea struggles in that area, but they might not be available as regional parts suppliers. It really seems like the plan was for Poland to assume that role.

Their next president might also make a lot of budget cuts to certain prestige projects, and confuse Altay for one of those.

 

8 hours ago, Atokara said:

Either way add-on armor isn't impossible. The Abrams did it with the SEPs, the Leopard did it heavily from 2A4 -> 2A5. I see no reason why it can't be done with the K2 as they advertise that they can do it. The side armor is also modular meaning it retains it's strategic mobility.

How much of an advantage is such weight reduction when Norway doesn't deploy its tanks overseas and the even heavier Abrams operates in the tank traversable parts of Norway without issue?
Consider that their Swedish neighbours find no problem in making their Leopards even more obese. They didn't consider Leclerc's lower base weight much of an advantage in trials, either.

 

8 hours ago, Atokara said:

https://www.gd-ots.com/munitions/artillery/155mm-smart/

The T-14 does have soft ERA mounted on the roof, but the SMArt 155 which the KSTAM-II was modeled off of is advertised as effective against heavily armored targets as well as ERA.

Marketing should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially for armaments, but that also applies to Armata, so consider that just the Smart 155 projectile alone is heavier than a whole 12 cm cartridge.
KSTAM might thus not have quite the same penetration power as the artillery shell.

 

9 hours ago, Atokara said:

Smart top attack munitions definitely aren't the signal to the death of the 120mm. The KSTAM isn't even meant for direct attack. I'm just giving an example of how the K2 can take out a big scary Armata without even needing line of sight to it. No matter what KSTAM is a major firepower upgrade over the Leopard despite them using the same gun. Even after the T-14 enters production, the 120mm will have decades of life purely because Russia will never produce them in a meaningful capacity.

No, they aren't, but limiting oneself to just one option to deal with a threat runs at risk of losing that option soon. What if the Russian military decides to implement an APS with coverage against top attack? Such systems already exist, like AMAP-ADS or APS or whatever the Rheinmetall thing is called.
That would leave only conventional AP projectiles as an option, and there are serious concerns that the 12 cm gun with just those might become less of an option even against newer T-90s. There's a whole history of Russian tank armour being badly underestimated, so it can't hurt to plan for the future early on.
Even the Koreans are working on K3 already, and the Challenger 2 with the 13 cm gun showed that K2 could also accept such a weapon. It already has an autoloader to cope with cartridges too long and heavy for human handling, although the turret would have to be extensively modified to make room for a larger bustle rack, or might need to get its shell replaced entirely, at which point one might as well buy a new tank - unless you're British.

 

1 hour ago, Sturgeon said:

Hmmm, I see you've run afoul of the forum's "no anime avatars" rule...

I only read this before joining, and there was nothing about profile pictures in there. Did I miss something?

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48 minutes ago, unreason said:

Leopard 2's mantlet never became better protected, just smaller, by integrating part of the moving mantlet area from 2A4 into the rigid turret cheeks in 2A5.
Since Leclerc's and K2's cheeks are much lower than their mantlets, this solution isn't available to them. The French never got around to it on their uparmouring projects.

 

That is not the case. Armor protection was improved by increasing armor thickness and using more modern armor inserts. The moving part of the mantlet was reduced in width, but the rest was not added into the rigid turret cheeks. There are now two additional parts (one on each side of the gun mantlet), that are mounted by "hanging" from the turret roof. They can be swiveled upwards in order to replace the gun.

 

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3 hours ago, unreason said:

 

The Hungarian contract includes everything needed to introduce an entirely new vehicle to their armed forces, from training to spare parts. Its cost isn't quite applicable to Leo 2 here.

K2's disadvantage regarding Norway is precisely that they don't have to pay for anything beside the upgrade itself if they decide to keep Leopard, while K2 would require expensive changes in crew training and supply management.

 

Leopard 2's mantlet never became better protected, just smaller, by integrating part of the moving mantlet area from 2A4 into the rigid turret cheeks in 2A5.
Since Leclerc's and K2's cheeks are much lower than their mantlets, this solution isn't available to them. The French never got around to it on their uparmouring projects.

 

Are you really sure that Turkey will be able to get it done? Russia's economic situation might be bad and progress on Armata glacial at best, but work on Altay is in a much worse state.

Moreover, the Turks are actually developing a domestic powerpack. Funny thing: The company involved is called "British Motor Company" somehow.
Their chances don't look too good if even Korea struggles in that area, but they might not be available as regional parts suppliers. It really seems like the plan was for Poland to assume that role.

Their next president might also make a lot of budget cuts to certain prestige projects, and confuse Altay for one of those.

 

How much of an advantage is such weight reduction when Norway doesn't deploy its tanks overseas and the even heavier Abrams operates in the tank traversable parts of Norway without issue?
Consider that their Swedish neighbours find no problem in making their Leopards even more obese. They didn't consider Leclerc's lower base weight much of an advantage in trials, either.

 

Marketing should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially for armaments, but that also applies to Armata, so consider that just the Smart 155 projectile alone is heavier than a whole 12 cm cartridge.
KSTAM might thus not have quite the same penetration power as the artillery shell.

 

No, they aren't, but limiting oneself to just one option to deal with a threat runs at risk of losing that option soon. What if the Russian military decides to implement an APS with coverage against top attack? Such systems already exist, like AMAP-ADS or APS or whatever the Rheinmetall thing is called.
That would leave only conventional AP projectiles as an option, and there are serious concerns that the 12 cm gun with just those might become less of an option even against newer T-90s. There's a whole history of Russian tank armour being badly underestimated, so it can't hurt to plan for the future early on.
Even the Koreans are working on K3 already, and the Challenger 2 with the 13 cm gun showed that K2 could also accept such a weapon. It already has an autoloader to cope with cartridges too long and heavy for human handling, although the turret would have to be extensively modified to make room for a larger bustle rack, or might need to get its shell replaced entirely, at which point one might as well buy a new tank - unless you're British.

 

I only read this before joining, and there was nothing about profile pictures in there. Did I miss something?

 

Yes you missed the rule about no anime avatars which this forum has had since 2014.

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I see Sturgeon is on the case. I was going to ban you outright for failing basic reading comprehension but it appears our overlord is slightly more forgiving than I.

 

Also, not arguing with the owner of the forum should be a no-brainer.

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18 hours ago, Atokara said:

The problem with Poland is that the decision behind going with the Abrams is pretty dumb.

 

It's not dumb. Having M1A2C offers full compatibility with 1st US ABCT stationed in Poland. The deal is probably more advantageous to US than to Poland because it gives US a support and supply chain paid by Polish tax payers but it has also a value for Poland. Buing more Leopards and becoming fully dependent on German policy makers in a situation when Polish and German governments are at odds would be trully dumb. The Leopard 2 is a great system but there is a lot more to take into account than only the vehicles alone. 

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Not only that. Besides the unit rotations the US Army is also building an Army Prepositioned Stock-2 in Powidz in central Poland (next to a Polish AF transport airbase). This storrage base shall permanently house 82 Abrams, 130 Bradley and 16 Paladins. 

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Interesting article on the Leopard 2's future published by the European Defence Review (EDR) magazine:

 

Spoiler
Leopard-2A6-807_R-800x534.jpg

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann: the ever-lasting Leopard 2

By Paolo Valpolini

 

Fully involved in the bi-national MGCS (Main Ground Combat System) together with Nexter and Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) is nonetheless considering 30 more years of operational life for its Cold War era main battle tank, which is in use or contracted by 19 countries, 14 in Europe, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, one in north-America, Canada, one in south-America, Chile, one in the Middle East, Qatar, and two in Asia, Indonesia and Singapore.

KMW-Leoaprd-2Ag-FINLAND_01-300x200.jpg Finnish Leopard 2 A6

Many of those tanks were build for the Bundeswehr when NATO was facing the Warsaw Pact threat, and have then been sold to the other nations when the Soviet empire collapsed putting a halt to the Cold War. Along the years KMW launched a series of upgrade programmes based on customers requirements that led from the original Leopard 2 A4 deployed in Central Europe by the German Army and the Netherlands Army in the 1980s, to the Leopard 2 A7A1 that is planned to be delivered to the Bundeswehr.

 

As the MGCS original timetable for its introduction in 2035 seems currently to be slightly optimistic, the Leopard 2 might remain the main NATO MBT for a while. “I think the MGCS programme needs clear decisions, an established distribution of roles, as well as a real commitment from our two governments,” Frank Haun, CEO of KNDS said on June 21st at the Paris Air Forum.

 

KMW-Leopard-2A4-Hungary_01-300x184.jpg Hungarian Leopard 2A4

While new customers, such as Hungary, are acquiring brand new Leopard 2s, intending keeping them in service for a minimum estimated operational life of 20 years, the Munich-based company is already looking forward to extend the effectiveness of its tank minimum till 2040, by integrating new subsystems required by evolving battlefield scenarios, or even to take more radical actions to maintain the key weapon system of many armoured formations at the top of its effectiveness against evolving potential peer adversaries. Visiting the company in Munich, it was worth spending some time to get the latest information on the Leopard 2 evolution and clarify the status of the various upgrade programmes with Rainer Fichtner, the Senior Vice-President of the company MBT Division.

 

 

The German Leopard 2 evolution

Derived from A4 and A6 models, the German configuration of the A7 version includes an improved mine protection kit, developed for the A6M version, the addition of a programming unit allowing to fire the DM 11 high explosive ammunition, the adoption of a 3rd generation thermal imager in the commanders periscope, a wholly new man-machine interface based on digital control units, the adoption of the IFIS (Integriertes Führungs- und Waffeneinsatzsystem) battlefield management system, the SOTAS digital IP intercom, a new driver control and information system, a crew compartment cooling system in the turret, and a 20 kW auxiliary power unit allowing semi-silent watch and reducing acoustic and thermal signature when operating stationary.

KMW_LEOPARD-2-A7_006-300x200.jpg German Leopard 2A7

A key element is the adoption of the Rheinmetall DM 11 round, which thanks to its programmable fuse provides a high operational flexibility, being effective against many types of targets, such as i.e. troops in the open when used in the airburst mode.

 

“A further step forward has been made with the Leopard 2 A7V. Here the firepower has been further improved with the introduction of the new L55A1 120 mm smoothbore gun which maintains the same chamber volume of the L55 but is cleared to operate at a higher pressure,” Rainer Fichtner tells EDR On-Line. This allows employing the latest kinetic energy ammunition, such as Rheinmetall’s DM73 APFSDS which development is nearly finished and should enter service soon, and the KE2020Neo, under development by the same company, that will provide even higher performances. A new full digital electric gun slaving system has been adopted. The A7V features a new hull which is fitted with improved internal protection modules, while a new protection package has been installed on the chassis roof as well as on the front glacis, bringing the protection of the chassis at the same level of that of the turret. Protection modules can be easily changed to adapt them to the evolving hollow charge threat.

KMW-LEOPARD-2A7-01-300x200.jpg German Leopard 2 A7

“To cope with the increased weight, compared to the 55 tonnes of the A4 the A7V weighs 64 tonnes, we modified and reinforced the complete running gear, adopting new torsion bars and new tracks. A new final drive was installed, which gives the vehicle the same acceleration from 0 to 30 km/h of the A4, while the top speed is reduced from 70 to 60 km/h, as tactically speaking maximum speed is less important than acceleration at lower speed,” the VP MBT Division explains. The new running gear is designed to withstand up to 69 tonnes combat weight. The gunner WBG-X (Wärmebildgeräte-X) thermal sight has been replaced by a 3rd generation Hensoldt Attica GL, while the driver can now drive forward and backward using the new Spectus multispectral system, also provided by Hensoldt, which combines thermal and low light level cameras, both with the same field of view, the two images being fused according to the situation in order to provide the optimal image. Cooling has been completely reviewed; the A7V features a combined NBC/cooling system in the turret for cooling the electronics and the turret itself, and a separate cooling system in the chassis for the driver.

KMW-Leoaprd-2-Qatar-300x169.jpg Qatar Leopard 2A7+

Qatar has acquired an improved version of the A7V known as A7+ QAT. It features the PERI RTWL, the Hensoldt commander’s periscope in use on the German Puma IFV, which includes a 3rd generation thermal imager, a laser rangefinder and new fibre optic gyros. It allows the commander to survey the battlefield and get target grids that are then handed over along the BMS, i.e. to artillery, if the target cannot be dealt with by the tank itself. Another add-on is KMW’s FLW 200 remotely controlled weapon station, that can be armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. Finally the tank is equipped with a meteorological sensor. Qatar is the first nation to field a Leopard 2 fitted with a fully digital fire control system.

 

Active protection

To answer a Canadian Army requirement, KMW developed an RPG protection kit that was introduced on tanks deployed to Afghanistan. Effective against standard threats as RPG-7, it could not cope with higher threats coming from antitank missiles such as the Kornet. Around six years ago KMW started studying the integration of an active protection system into its MBT. The Leopard 2 parent company considered that passive armour packages reached their limit against the hollow charges threat, current HEAT warheads being able to penetrate over 1,000 mm of rolled homogeneous armour (still the standard reference for penetration, although it is far from being representative of current composite armour) hence it started looking at other solutions. The choice went to the Trophy active protection system, developed by Rafael and installed on Israeli Merkava 4 MBTs. It was initially integrated on a Leopard 2A4, which was used for tests and successfully defeated incoming RPG rockets and anti-tank missiles.

 

“This development is now finalised, fitted to Leopard 2A6, which when equipped with the APS becomes the Leopard 2 A7A1. The first demonstrator will be delivered to the Bundeswehr in July 2021 and will be tested in different scenarios based on the European reality, such as adverse conditions as dust, rain, snow, urban environment, in order to see how the system reacts in the Old Continent,” Rainer Fichtner said. The four radar antennas are located at the corners of the turret, while the two effectors are installed at the back of the turret, right and left.

 

LEOPARD_2_A7A1-1021-300x171.jpg Leopard 2 A7A1 with Trophy

The series contract signed in January 2021 calls for the delivery to the German Army of an undisclosed quantity of Leopard 2 A7A1 tanks fitted with the Israeli system. According to available information the order should be for 17 Leopard 2 A7A1 (plus the prototype), sufficient to cover the needs of the tank company assigned to the Bundeswehr contingent that will be provided to the Very High Joint Readiness Task Force (VJTF) in 2023, when Germany will take over the lead of the NATO spearhead force.

 

Further evolution

Part of the systems already installed in some of the various configurations might well migrate in new upgrade packages. It is the case of the commander’s periscope, KMW considering installing the PERI R17 A4 which is fitted with a Class 1 laser rangefinder.

 

While a 3rd generation Attica Z thermal camera is now available in the commanders periscope and a similar system has also been fitted to the gunners night sight, KMW is considering a further improvement, stepping from that 640×512 pixel thermal sensor to the full HD 1280×1024 pixel sensor, the Attica M-2. In addition, due to the availability of better and more reliable optronic sighting systems compared to the gunner original WBG-X, a discussion is ongoing about the need to maintain the optical channel.

“Remaining in the thermal sensors arena, in 2020 we evaluated the performances of LWIR (Long Wave InfraRed) against MWIR (Mid Wave InfraRed) to understand if it would make sense to mix different thermal imaging systems, as multiwave sensors in the same TI system are now available. MWIR systems have some advantages over longer distances, but there are issues on the battlefield due to blooming effects. For the European Leopard users, the decision is to remain with LWIR sensors,” Rainer Fichtner said.

 

Jammers and laser warning systems (LWR) are also part of an ongoing evaluation programme. Jammers used to counter radio-controlled IEDs have already been integrated into Leopard 2s, requirements for such EW systems being foreseeable not only to be used against RC-IEDs but also against drones, one of the increasing threats on today battlefield. As for LWRs, these provide a warning when the tank is illuminated by a laser; if the beam is that from an illuminator or from a beam-riding missile system, the crew can take some evasive action and countermeasures such as multispectral smoke screens can be activated.

KMW is installing different such systems on prototype tanks to allow its customers to carry out a full evaluation of what becomes available on the market.

 

The future: Leopard 2 Ax, Leopard 2 EDA and E-MBT

With the MGCS entry in service date probably moving to the right, the German Army is considering the next upgrade step for the Leopard 2, which is currently known as Leopard 2 Ax. This will of course take into consideration many of the aforementioned issues, and all requirements will be split between “must” and “option”. “The first decision to be taken is if the turret of the Leopard 2 Ax will be an existing turret submitted to further refurbishment or if it will be a wholly new turret. KMW considers that building a wholly new turret, exploiting new manufacturing techniques and advanced materials, and optimising the design since the early stages, will decrease mass at similar protection level, or will allow increasing protection maintaining the same mass, the most recent iterations of the Leopard 2 turrets being the result of a mass-increasing series of upgrades. “Protection remains a key issue, and we are looking of course at the adoption of reactive armour specifically designed to counter the kinetic energy threat, which is becoming again the main issue considering confrontations with near peer adversaries,” KMWs VP for MBTs said. Further improvements in sensors is required, as well as a wholly digital vetronic architecture, that will allow easy integration of a series of subsystems such as the tracking mode in a fully digital commander’s sight, and improved situational awareness for the driver and commander. The capacity to receive images from UAVs, or even the integration of a UAV as a long range reconnaissance asset, are also foreseen.

KMW-E-MBT-300x200.jpg KNDS E-MBT

Beside the already mentioned MGCS, two more programmes are part of the MBT Division portfolio at KMW. One is the Leopard 2 A7 EDA, the European Defence Agency’s initiative to optimise existing MBT capabilities by pooling and sharing available assets that would offer benefits to all those countries with gaps in their heavy armour portfolio. The programme, launched in spring 2017, foresees the upgrade of existing tanks to a common A7 standard or even its new production, fitted for all options but not with all of them, and then a lease/rent scheme in which those countries with extra armour capacity would provide the tanks to those which lack it, in order to maintain the number of MBTs in Europe at the current level, the number of tanks having decreased from 15,000 to 5,000 in the last 20 years, a further reduction being considered unacceptable at European Union level.

 

The other programme is the E-MBT, for European Main Battle Tank, made of a Leopard 2 chassis fitted with the Leclerc turret, the latter being equipped with an automatic ammunition loading system, the tank crew being thus reduced to three members. A technology demonstrator of the E-MBT was exhibited at Eurosatory 2018, industry saying at that time that to become a true product it needed some four years from contract signature.

 

What remains sure is that the Leopard 2 is far from retirement.

Photos courtesy KMW, Finnish MoD, Hungarian MoD, P. Valpolini

Source: https://www.edrmagazine.eu/krauss-maffei-wegmann-the-ever-lasting-leopard-2

(Underlined text = emphasis added by me)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Sheffield said:

Hi, wanted to ask if anyone has got any details on weight distribution of the Leopard 2A4; i.e how much turret shell/empty turret, hull shell/empty hull and if possible composite armour weight.

 

Thanks.


@Laviduce, that’s your hobby, IIRC. 

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6 hours ago, Sheffield said:

Hi, wanted to ask if anyone has got any details on weight distribution of the Leopard 2A4; i.e how much turret shell/empty turret, hull shell/empty hull and if possible composite armour weight.

 

Thanks.

 

4 hours ago, Lord_James said:


@Laviduce, that’s your hobby, IIRC. 

 

Regretfully, I have not done a full CAD model on the Leo 2 (yet), so I can not tackle the volume/mass distribution from that angle in any meaningful way.

 

Here are numbers coming from German and Swiss sources/publications (some of them are somewhat contradictory):

 

This is for a Leopard 2 with B-Technology special armor, as far as i know:

 

Total Combat Weight: 55,15 t / max: 55,55 t

Hull without ammunition, equipment and crew: 37,80 t / max: 38,16 t

Hull Shell: 12,1 t

Turret with armament but without ammunition, equipment and crew: 16,0 t / max: 16,99 t

Turret Shell: 8,91 t

Main gun with breech: 1,97 t (1,995 t is also given)

Main gun without gun mantlet: 3,10 t

Main Gun Tube: 1,20 t

Engine (dry): 2,71 t (with air filters)

Transmission with cooling unit (wet): 2,97 t

Powerpack including cooling unit (wet/dry):  6,05 / 5,61 t

Tracks: 2,70 t

Mass of fuel: 1,03 t

 

Mass distribution in %:

 

Electronic Equipment, Equipment, etc: 7% --> 3,86 t

Armament and ammunition: 8% --> 4,41 t

Powerpack with fuel:15,5 % --> 8,55 t

Running gear/Suspension System/ tracks: 21, 5% --> 11,86 t

Turret and Hull Shell: 48% -->26,47 t   (this is odd)

 

For the Swiss Panzer 87:

 

Combat Weight: 56,5 t

Turret weight with gun: 16 t

Powerpack (wet/dry): 6,12 / 5,57 t

Engine: 2,86 t

Transmission (wet/dry): 2,45 / 2,17 t

Suspension arm with / without damper: 0,226 t / 0,182 t

Torsion bar: 0,059 t

Return Roller: 0,025 t

Idler Wheel: 0,034 t

Idler Wheel arm: 0,11 t

Bump Stop: 0,012 t

Track link mass: 0,033 t

Tracks: 2,75 t

 

More on the gun system:

 

With mantlet: 3,655 t (max 3,8 t)

Without mantlet: 3,015 t

Mantlet: 0,640 t

Gun, Total: 1,905 t

Gun Tube: 1,150-1,175 t

Gun breech: 0,683 t

Gun breech block: 0,110 t

Bore Evacuator: 0,0135 t

Thermal Shroud Front: 0,0135 t

Thermal Shroud Back: 0,0128 t

 

I might find more, but this is it for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, 2805662 said:


Only available on 17, specifically modified tanks, whereas the Abrams kit is modular + appliqué, similar in concept to TUSK. 

   Yeah, i understand Trophy on Abrams being somewhat an add-on kit, but i'm not sure if this configuration is realistically better. It is bulky and weight more than it could have. You want to have APS when in combat anyway, when you don't need it - don't load munitions and turn it off. 

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4 hours ago, LoooSeR said:

Looks like better integration into turret than on Abrams.

 

That is a Leopard 2A4 tank used for internal tests by KMW. The EDR coverage on the Leopard 2 from a few pages earlier mentions it.

 

KMW has done quite some work after that; i.e. they developed their own blast/fragmentation shield (that apparently can be folded up and down without leaving the tank), and integrated two of their smoke grenade launchers (physically at least, not sure about software) into the Trophy module.

 

YWPbPti.png

 

4 hours ago, 2805662 said:

Only available on 17, specifically modified tanks, whereas the Abrams kit is modular + appliqué, similar in concept to TUSK. 

 

As far as I can tell, the Trophy system still is a modular appliqué solution on the Leopard 2A7A1; the turrets of the Leopard 2A6A3 are re-used (with minor modifications); the power delivery is a bigger issue (as the Leopard 2A6A3 has no APU) and hence new hulls are produced. There is little reason to assume that the Leopard 2A7(V) could not be fitted with Trophy if desired.

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Good clarifying information @SH_MM : I guess we’ll see.
 

One thing is certain (need to find the link)  is that only 17 kits/conversions have been funded. Contrast that with the Abrams fit where several battalion sets have been purchased. We’ve also seen the Abrams fit out on M1A1 FEP & M1A2 SEPv2, which demonstrates the modularity of the base tank, as well as the kit. 

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