German Army begins modernizing its battle tank fleet with the Leopard 2 A7, reported Kurt Braatz, the Head of Strategy and Corporate Communications of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. To mark the handover of the first of an initial 20 Leopard 2 A7 tanks to the German Army, Frank Haun, Chairman of the Board of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) welcomed numerous guests from the worlds of politics, the military and business to the company’s headquarters in Munich on 10 December 2014. The German Army has ordered a total of 20 Leopard 2 A7 MBTs (Main Battle Tanks) and the last of these will soon be delivered from KMW’s Munich facility and issued to Tank Battalion 203, which currently operates 44 Leopard 2 A6s.
The new Leopard 2 A7 (the best main battle tank all over the World, I reckon) is a product of collaboration between multiple NATO partners and KMW that began seven years ago. As part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mandate, Canada decided in 2007 to borrow 20 Leopard 2 A6Ms with modern mine protection from the German Army. Adapted by KMW to Canadian requirements, the first Leopard 2 A6M CAN was available in the same year and proved itself in operation so effectively that Canada wanted to continue using it. When it was time to return the vehicles, the country acquired surplus Dutch Leopard tanks that were to be converted to the design status of the loaned German vehicles. Canada and Germany agreed that, as part of this conversion work, further modifications could be made, resulting in the Leopard 2 A7 for the German Army.
As IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly noted, the Leopard 2 A7 retains the Rheinmetall 120 mm L/55 smooth bore gun and in addition to firing the latest generation Rheinmetall 120 mm Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot – Tracer (APFSDS-T) DM63 round and can also fire the latest programmable Rheinmetall DM12 high-explosive round.
The Leopard 2 A7 not only features optimized protection against asymmetrical and conventional threats, but also has significantly enhanced sustainment. An auxiliary power unit ensures that the weapons system is fully operational even without a running main engine (!) and that turret and crew compartment are kept cool. The Leopard 2 A7 is integrated into the control network via the combat troops control and weapons deployment system. For reconnaissance, it has leading edge sighting equipment. Its range of capabilities has been adapted through the option to fire fuze-programmable high explosive ammunition. This ammunition is particularly effective against bunkers and fortified positions.
According to KMW, amongst others its features includes:
- Passive all-round protection for the crew against threats such as roadside bombs, mines and bazooka fire;
- Interface for attaching implements, such as a mine plow, mine roller or a dozer blade for clearing mines, booby traps or building debris blocking the roads;
- Cooling system for both the turret and chassis;
- Increased power-rated additional power generators for check-point missions;
- Communication interface on the exterior of the vehicle for dismounted forces;
- Combined driver’s night vision (thermal imager/image intensifier) for front and rear view;
- Improved optoelectronics (day/night) for reconnaissance over long distances;
- Digitized and multifunctional user concept.
Length (gun at 12 o’clock): up to 10.97 m
Width: 3.77 m – 4 m
Height (turret roof): 2.64 m
Weight: 63.5 tonnes/70 (Military Load Classification)
Engine power: 1,100 kW (1,500 hp)
Maximum speed: 72 km/h
Cruising range: 450 km
Armament: 120 mm/L55 or L44 smooth bore gun/7,62 mm machine gun/Light Weapon Station FLW 200 with 40 mm grenade launcher or .50 MG