The Leopard 2 is a highly regarded blend of firepower, protection and mobility. The Rheinmetall 120-mm smoothbore main armament is powerful and reliable and has been adopted for the U.S. M1A1 and A2 as the M256 . The computerized fire control system is sophisticated and expensive. The Leopard 's protection includes Chobham composite armor that is thought to be the equal of any Western tank. Taken together, the armor and the larger gun have resulted in 30 percent increase in the tank's weight over the earlier Leopard 1 (a tank of similar size, see separate record for details).
Unlike the M1 (which has a gas turbine), but like most other modern MBTs, the Leopard 2 has a high-horsepower diesel engine that has the advantages of maturity and, at least initially, greater reliability. The Leopard 2's powerpack was originally designed for the German prototype of the MBT -70. The Leopard 2's mobility is manifested in its high power-to-weight ratio and road speed and relatively low ground pressure. The only limitation on the Leopard 2's mobility is its relatively heavy weight, which restricts the number of bridges it can cross.
The hull, made up of spaced multilayer armor, is divided up into three sections: the driver's compartment in front; the fighting compartment in the center; and the engine compartment in the rear. The driver sits at the front right of the vehicle with a single-piece hatch cover opening to the right with three periscopes. The center periscope can be replaced with a passive night sight. To the left of the driver is an ammunition storage area.
Mounted in the center of the vehicle, the turret houses the loader (seated on the left), commander and driver (both seated on the right). A PERI-R17A1 stabilized panoramic periscope is mounted to the front of the commander's hatch and has a 360-degree traverse with 2x and 8x magnification. The gunner uses an EMES-15 dual-magnification stabilized sight with integrated laser rangefinder and thermal imaging unit. A FERO-Z18 8x magnification telescope serves as an auxiliary gunner's sight. The commander can see the picture transmitted from the gunner's EMES-15 in his own PERI-R17 sight and can also slave the weapon functions to his own controls. The turret in the Leopard 2A4 and earlier versions uses a hydraulic traverse system.
The loader has a single-piece hatch cover and a single observation periscope. Ammunition is stored in different places in the vehicle, with 27 rounds stored to the left of the driver and 15 to the left side of the turret bustle, separated from the fighting compartment by an electric door. The bustle is designed to explode upwards if it is hit.
The 120-mm Rheinmetall main gun is fully azimuth and elevation stabilized, firing armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) and high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. A fire control computer calculates lateral angle lead and angle of sight for the main armament, taking into account target distance, direction of motion, the ballistic characteristics of specific ammunition and the angle of tilt of the vehicle. Combined with the sights, the Leopard 2 is capable of engaging targets under camouflage, in bad weather or at night.
To the rear, the engine compartment is separated from the center compartment by a fireproof bulkhead.
In the 1960s, the United States and Germany were working on the joint MBT -70/KPz-70 program. However, Germany also had a parallel development program for a MBT , which resulted in the Leopard 1 . Porsche was awarded a contract in 1965 to develop improved Leopard 1 components and increase its combat effectiveness. When the MBT -70/KPz-70 program was cancelled, Germany directed Krauss-Maffei of Munich to develop a new MBT prototype. Following the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Germany decided to increase the Leopard 2 to MLC 60 (military loading class 60 tons) to increase armor protection.
Between 1972 and 1974, Krauss Maffei produced 16 prototype hulls and 17 prototype turrets, some with the Rheinmetall 105-mm smoothbore. The German Ministry of Defense formally decided to order the Leopard 2 in five batches, with a total of 1,800 units beginning in September 1977. The first tanks were delivered in 1979. A total of 380 were built in the first batch, all of which were delivered by March 1982.
Batch Production Leopard Krauss Krupp Period Variant Maffei MaK Total Late 1979-March 1982 2 209 171 380 (batch one) March 1982-Nov. 1983 2A1 248 202 450 (batch two) Nov. 1983-Nov. 1984 2A1 165 135 300 (batch three) Dec. 1984-Dec. 1985 2A3 165 135 300 (batch four) Dec. 1985-March 1987 2A4 190 180 370 (batch five) Jan. 1988-May 1989 2A4 83 67 150 (batch six) May 1989-April 1990 2A4 55 45 100 (batch seven) Jan. 1991-March 1992 2A4 40 35 75 (batch eight)Germany procured a total of 2,125 tanks. An additional 445 were built for the Netherlands and 35 for Switzerland as the Pz87 (Switzerland license-built an additional 345). Sweden ordered 120 new Leopard 2S (Stridsvagen 122) and took 160 more from German stocks (Stridsvagen 121).
Plans to upgrade all Leopard 2s to Leopard 2A5s were scaled back to a 700-tank program in 1992 to save approximately 1.7 billion marks (US$1.1 billion at 1992 exchange rates). By 1996, only 225 Leopard 2A5 conversions had been funded. The planned Leopard 3 next-generation tank was eliminated altogether, saving approximately 9.35 billion marks (US$6.07 billion at 1996 exchange rates).
In mid-1995, it was announced that Spain would license-build 200 Leopard 2A5s for the Spanish army. Spain took delivery of 108 Leopard 2A4s for a period of five years between 1995 and 1996 at a lease rate of US$6.6 million annually while the Leopard 2A5s were being built.
Finland purchased 124 used Leopard 2A4s from Germany beginning in 2001.
Poland acquired 128 Leopard 2s from German army stocks in 2002.
In August of 2005, Greece ordered 183 Leopard 2A4s, as well as 150 Leopard 1A5s from Germany.
In November of 2005, Germany agreed to sell 298 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Turkey. Deliveries were scheduled for 2006 and 2007.
In March of 2006, Chile signed a contract for 118 German Leopard 2A4 tanks. The Leopard 2s will replace Chile's 131 Leopard 1 tanks slated for retirement.
In September of 2006, Greece reached an agreement with Rheinmetall to integrate the NATO-interoperable INIOCHOS command and information system with the tanks. Diagnostic testing equipment was also included in the deal. The systems are to be delivered by 2008.
In December of 2006, Singapore announced a deal with Germany for the purchase of 66 refurbished Leopard 2A4 tanks, 30 spare tanks and equipment.
Primary Contractor and Builder: Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW) GmbH, Munich and Kassel, Germany Primary Subcontractor and Builder: Krupp MaK, Kiel, Germany Other Subcontractors and Systems: Ametek Rotron -- brushless motors, fans and blowers Avitronics Pty. Ltd. -- laser warning systems Behr Industrietechnik -- cooling and air conditioning systems BEI Precision Systems & Space Division -- optical encoders, scanners and accelerometers CelsiusTech Vetronics -- fire control systems COMET GmbH -- battlefield simulation ammunition Diehl Remscheid GmbH & Co. -- armored vehicle tracks ERA Technology Ltd. -- military design and development consultancy Evans & Sutherland -- visual systems for simulation Giat Industries -- ammunition LITEF GmbH -- land navigation systems MPE Ltd. -- electrical filters PIETZSCH Neue Technologien GmbH & Co. KG (PNT) -- defense technology system and component development RENK -- tank transmission system Rheinmetall W & M GmbH -- ammunition and weapon system for ground forces, gun systems and weapon components RKS S.A. -- slewing bearings and special bearings SIGNAAL Communications -- tactical communications systems/networks, digital vehicle intercom systems SpanSet International -- lifting, lashing and personal safety systems STN ATLAS Elektronik GmbH -- electronic equipment and systems Weibel Scientific Ltd. -- Doppler radar systems
Austria 114 x Leopard 2 Chile 118 x Leopard 2A4 Denmark 51 x Leopard 2A4, to be upgraded to 2A5 Finland 124 x Leopard 2A4 Germany 1,728 x Leopard 2A4 Greece 183 x Leopard 2A4 Netherlands 151 x Leopard 2, for sale Norway 52 x Leopard 2A4 Poland 128 x Leopard 2A4 Singapore 66 x Leopard 2A4 (pending) Spain 108 x Leopard 2A4 on lease Sweden 280 x Strv-121/122 (Leopard 2/2S) Turkey 298 x Leopard 2A4
Leopard 2A4 CREW 4 (commander, gunner, loader, driver) WEIGHTS Combat 121,585 lb (55,150 kg) Unloaded 118,610 lb (53,800 kg) Ground pressure 11.80 lb/sq in (0.83 kg/cm sq) DIMENSIONS Length gun forward 31 ft 9 in (9.67 m) gun rear 27 ft 10 in (8.49 m) hull 25 ft 4 in (7.72 m) Height turret top 8 ft 2 in (2.48 m) cupola top 9 ft 2 in (2.80 m) hull top 5 ft 10 in (1.77 m) firing 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) Width track skirts down 11 ft 7 in (3.54 m) overall 12 ft 2 in (3.70 m) Track length on ground 17 ft 2 in (5.25 m) width 2 ft 1 in (0.64 m) Ground clearance front 1 ft 10 in (0.55 m) rear 1 ft 8 in (0.50 m) PROPULSION Engine MTU MB 873 Ka 501 2,905-cu in (47.6-liter) liquid-cooled, exhaust turbo-charged, intercooled, 4-stroke prechamber, V-12 multi- fuel engine Power 1,500 hp at 2,600 rpm Power-to-weight ratio 27.20 hp/metric ton Fuel capacity 317 U.S. gal (1,200 liters) Transmission Renk HSWL 354 automatic hydro-kinetic planetary gear shift; 4 forward/2 reverse gears SUSPENSION Shocks 5 rotary shock absorbers (bump travel 11.2-12.8 in/285-325 mm, rebound 5.5-7.9 in/140-200 mm) with torsion bar, front idler Wheels 7 road wheels, rear drive (11-tooth sprocket) with 4 return rollers PERFORMANCE Speed road 42 mph (68 kmh) max reverse 19 mph (31 kmh) max cross-country 34 mph (55 kmh) max Range 342 mi (550 km) cruising road Obstacle vertical 3 ft 7 in (1.10 m) trench 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m) Fording unprepared 3 ft 3 in (1.00 m) prepared 7 ft 5 in (2.25 m) snorkel 13 ft 1 in (4.00 m) Gradient 60 percent Side slope 30 percent WEAPONS Main 1 x 120-mm/44-cal Rheinmetall smoothbore gun fitted with fume extractor and thermal sleeve ammunition 42 rounds elevation -9/+20 deg elevation rate 10 deg/sec traverse 360 deg traverse rate 30 deg/sec Coaxial 1 x 7.62-mm MG3 machine gun (MG) Anti-aircraft 1 x 7.62-mm MG3 MG ammunition 4,750 total 7.62-mm rounds elevation -10/+75 deg FIRE CONTROL Ballistic computer analog AEG-Telefunken FLT2 with 4 ballistic profiles stored digital Krupp-Atlas retrofitted to overhauled and newly manufactured vehicles SENSORS/ELECTRONICS Laser rangefinder Nd-YAG Sights aiming WNA-H22 electro-hydraulic slaved mounting system (SMS) fully electro-hydraulically stabilized binocular Krupp-Atlas EMES-15 primary stabilized commander Zeiss PERI-R17 stabilized, fully rotating monocular daytime optical gunner FERO-Z 18 auxiliary telescope Thermal imaging Zeiss imager PROTECTION Armor Chobham-type composite steel-ceramic; 4- section steel track skirts with thickened front section blow-off panels in turret bustle NBC Drager Piller collective overpressure protection Fire Deugra crew bay Halon suppression system Smoke 2 x 8-barrel 3-in (76-mm) smoke dischargers, one on each turret side
The third batch, 300 vehicles delivered from November 1983 to November 1984, added a deflector to raise the position of the commander's panoramic sight by 2 in (50 mm). A larger cover plate was also fitted over the NBC protection system. While the nomenclature remained the Leopard 2A1, there was never a Leopard 2A2.
Although only five batches were ever intended, a sixth batch was ordered in June 1987. There were 150 vehicles delivered from January 1988 to May 1989. The ammunition supply hatch on the left side of the hatch was eliminated and a central warning light was installed in a housing on the hull to facilitate better viewing when the driver was operating with his head outside the hatch. Zinc cromate free paint was used, Deihl 570FT tracks introduced and maintenance free batteries installed for the first time. There was no change in nomenclature.
The seventh batch of vehicles, 100 produced from May 1989 to April 1990, was identical to those in the sixth batch.
The eight and last production batch of 75 vehicles was built from January 1991 to March 1992. A collimator for the muzzle reference system was installed on the right side of the main gun, near the end of the barrel, and retrofitted to all vehicles of previous batches. The base mounts for the smoke mortars were also changed. Again, there was no change in nomenclature.
Sweden signed a contract with KMW for the manufacture of 120 Leopard 2S, designated the Strv-122. The front hull and glacis have additional armor plates and the inside is completely surrounded by liner. Stronger torsion bars derived from the PzH 2000 are installed and reinforced brake disks used for the increased combat weight of 136,686 lb (62,000 kg). The fuel tanks also have an explosive-suppressing filling liquid and the engine is constantly cooled to reduce IR signature. Heat sensors installed in the engine automatically cut off the fan and air intakes if the vehicle is attacked by napalm. The turret roof and hatches have been uparmored and all of them electrically slide. An anti-helicopter round is being developed for this tank.
Most notably, the Strv-122 is the first MBT in Europe to use the advanced tank command and control system (TCCS). GIAT GALIX vehicle protection 80-mm mortars are mounted on the left and right sides of the turret, able to launch smoke, flare, decoy and fragmentation rounds.
The greatest advantage over the Abrams is in the Leopard 's relative fuel economy. According to manufacturer's figures, the Abrams turbine's fuel consumption at best speed for maximum range is 0.58 miles per gallon (0.25 km per liter); the Leopard 's 1.08 miles per gallon (0.46 km per liter) is nearly twice as good. More practically stated, the Leopard travels 56 mi (90 km) farther on 57 percent less fuel. Fuel consumption while idling is the turbine's weakest point, consumption at idle being perhaps three times as much as the diesel. On the other hand, the German engine weighs more than twice as much as the AGT-1500 turbine and occupies more volume.
The independence of the commander's sight, while very useful, was limited by its lack of a thermal channel. For the commander to see in poor visual conditions, he has to couple the periscope with the gunner's thermal channel through an optical relay system. Many of the targets acquired during Operation Desert Storm were first seen through thermal sights. The Leopard 2 Improved variant has the PERI R17 TW sight with thermal channel. This was rectified in the Leopard 2A5 .
A new fin-stabilized 120 mm HE-T (high explosive-tracer) round was developed for the Swedish army's Leopard 2 MBTs by Bofors and Israel Military Industries. The projectile used in the 120 mm HE-T projectile is from a 120-mm mortar bomb and is fitted with a point detonating (PD) fuse, which is not armed until the projectile is 50 m from the muzzle of the barrel.
In September of 2006, Israel Aerospace Industries and Rheinmetall announced the development of a gun-launched laser homing weapon system (Lahat) upgrade kit for Leopard 1 and 2 tanks. The Lahat is available in tank-launched and canister launched configurations. It can be fired from 105-mm and 120-mm guns, the latter requiring the use of a sabot. The missile allows first-shot kills of targets at ranges over 4 miles (6 km) utilizing internal or external guidance. The system has been successfully tested from a Leopard 2A4 tank.
LATEST UPDATE: 1 February 2007