The Leopard 2 Tank was developed in the 1970’s to meet the needs of the Heer (West German Army).
Further upgraded during its service life with the Deutsches Heer (German Army) to more modern models, the Leopard 2 Tank has since grown into the most successful and widely exported tank in NATO.
The Leopard 2 Tank has been built under license in 3 countries and is in service with 18 nations, the most recent being the sale of surplus German Leopard 2A5 in 2013 to Poland, who also have the most modern export model, the Leopard 2PL, which was unveiled in 2016.
Originally manufactured by Krauss‐Maffei Wegmann and Maschinenbau Kiel, a number of international companies have developed upgrade and modernization packages, such as the Rheinmetall Advanced Technology Demonstrator, which features modular armor, digital architecture and Hard Kill Active Protection.
This page serves as an overview of all Leopard 2 Tank models, international models and upgrade/modernization packages linking too dedicated pages of each of these.
Leopard 2 Tank Development
By 1965 the German Leopard 1 Medium Tank had entered production and a replacement was under development for the American M48 Patton Tank in service with the Deutsches Heer. This was a joint project with America known as the MBT-70, however with soaring costs the project was officially ended in 1970.
Almost as soon as entering production, Porsche was commissioned to work on an improvement programme for the Leopard 1. The program was continued by Krauss Maffei in 1967 as the primary contractor with Porsche continuing work on the hull.
By 1970, x2 prototypes had been built of an improved Leopard 1, at which time a total of 17 additional new prototype turrets and 16 hulls were ordered. Theses were known as PT1 to PT11 and PT13 to PT17. These were built between 1972 to 1974.
Each hull/turret prototype varied slightly. Parts of the Leopard 1, MBT-70, other new systems and a new 120mm smoothbore main gun were installed (some retained the 105mm rifled main gun). However, all the prototypes had the MTU 883 1500hp diesel engine, developed for the MBT-70 installed.
Leopard 2AV Tank
Between 1972 and 1975 the prototypes completed trials not only in Germany, but atmospheric trials in different hot and cold countries. During this time, Leopard 2 prototypes were supplied to America for testing. Afterwards an agreement for comparative trials against the XM1 prototype was reached, with certain performance requirements by America.
The resulting modified Leopard 2 were designated the “Leopard 2AV”. The modifications included a new turret mounted with a 105mm main gun as used on the XM1, improved hull armor and Fire Control Systems.
Testing showed that the only main advantage of the XM1 was armored protection and all the Leopard 2AV prototypes were returned to Germany by 1977. All these prototypes were re-gunned with Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore main gun (calibre Length 44) and Fire Control Systems updated to Turret T20 standards.
In September 1977, the German Ministry of Defence placed a formal order for 1800 Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks.
Leopard 2 Tank Description
Crew – The Leopard 2 Tank operates a x4 man crew, the Driver sits on the right side of the hull. The Commander sits on the right side of the turret in an elevated position behind the Gunner who sits slightly bellow him. The Gunner has dual channel sight for Day channel and thermal channel. The Commander has an Independent Sight allowing him to scan for targets independently of the Gunner. The Commander if required, can take control of the main gun from the Gunner using his CIS to engage a target.
The Loader stands on the left side of the turret, with the main guns breach between him and the Commander/Gunner. He loads the main gun from ammunition stored in an armored rack with blow out-panels in the turrets bustle (rear).
Firepower – The Leopard 2 has historically always used the Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore main gun called the L44. This was upgraded on some vehicles to the longer L55. A 140mm smoothbore was also trialled, but not put into service.
Protection – The armored protection has been continuously upgraded throughout the vehicles service life, both with the German Army and international operators. This includes some of the most modern armor offered such as AMAP. Other safety devices include NBC protection, fire suppression, fireproof bulkheads, armored hatches, roof armor and replacement of the hydraulic drives with all-electric.
Mobility – The Leopard 2 Tanks strength has been its MTU 883 Diesel engine. Generating 1500hp, it has a high power-to-weight ratio, which has accommodated the additional weight of the tanks many upgrades. Coupled to the Renk HSWL 354 transmission, it has four forward and two reverse gears. The Suspension is a standard Torsion Bar type offing a top road speed of 72km/h.
Leopard 2 Tank Models
The following are former Bundeswehr and current Deutsches Heer Leopard 2 Tank models:
This was the first production variant. In total 209 were built by Krauss Maffei and 171 by MaK from October 1979 until March 1982 totalling 380 of the original 1800 ordered by Germany. The Thermal Sight for the Gunners EMES 15 primary sight was not ready when the Leopard 2 entered production.
Instead the PZB 200 Low Light Level TV (LLLTV) was mounted above the main gun on the mantle.
The EMES 15 Fire Control System consisted of a FERO Z18 auxiliary Gunners sight, fire control computer, a laser rangefinder and a PERI R-17 Commanders Independent Sight. This gave the Leopard 2 Tank a Hunter Killer Capability making it a 3rd Generation Main Battle Tank.
The A1 started production of 450 between March 1982 to November 1983, and a further 300 between November 1983 and November 1984. The Thermal Sight for the Gunners EMES 15 primary sight was installed (The LLLTV was removed), new ammo storage racks were fitted and new fuel filters added to speed up the refuelling process.
In addition a deflector plate for the PERI R-17 CIS (which elevated the sight in height), a cover plate added to the NBC system and modifications to the towing cables positions/lengths.
The A2 was not a production variant. It was the designation of the Leopard 2A0 that were bought up to the A1 standard. This work was completed between 1984 and 1987.
The A3 saw the production of a further 300 between December 1984 and December 1985. The main upgrade was the introduction of a new SEM80/90 digital radio resulting in changes to the antennas. The turret side ammunition supply hatch was also welded shut. The Gunners position was also modified for increased comfort for aiming whilst firing on the move.
The A4 was the most common variant of the Leopard 2. 695 were produced and by 1992 all other variants had been modified to the A4 variant, totalling 2125 Leopard 2 A4’s in the former Bundeswehr. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
The A6 (Also Known As KWS I) saw improvements in firepower, with the replacement of the 120mm smoothbore calibre Length 44 (aka L44) main gun with the new 120mm smoothbore calibre Length 55 (aka L55). Dedicated Model Page Read More …
The Leopard 2A7 is the most modern version in service with the German Heer. It features improvements in Fire Control Systems and other internal equipment with visible external changes to the turret top and bustle. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Tank Upgrade Packages
Leopard 2 Ex
The Leopard 2 Ex is a former export model of the Leopard 2A6. In many ways it was an improved version of the A6 in German Army service. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Evolution
Developed by German Company KMW and featured all-round modular armor protection and other systems from experiences learnt operating the Leopard 2 in the War in Afghanistan (2001–2014). Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 MBT Revolution
Developed by German Company Rheinmetall, the vehicle featured a modular armor system with AMAP armor inserts, Active Protection Systems and many other improvements. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
The MBT Evolution was unveiled at the 2014 Eurosatory defence expo held in Paris, France. The MBT Evolution is the latest version of the Leopard 2 Evolution originally by IBD Deisenroth Engineering, but now marketed by Rheinmetall. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
The Leopard 2A7V aka Leopard 2 A7V (v for “verbessert”, German for “improved”) is the latest version of the Leopard 2A7, developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and unveiled at Eurosatory 2016. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Tank Advanced Technology Demonstrator
Developed by German Company Rheinmetall, The ATD is an improved and re-branded earlier Leopard 2 Revolution, focusing a digital architecture. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Tank International Upgrade Packages
RUAG Leopard Solutions
The Leopard Solutions is the re-branded Leopard 2 Mid-Life upgrade package. RUAG is one of the defence contractors bidding for the British Armies Challenger 2 LEP program.
The RUAG Leopard Solutions prototype turret was on display at the companies stand at DVD 2016 to demonstrate the companies systems it could implement as upgrades during the LEP process. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Mid-Life
The Leopard 2 Mid-Life upgrade has been developed by Swiss Company RUAG and offered for the export market. If features a digital architecture, improved Fire Control Systems and armor packages. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Next Generation
The Leopard 2 NG (Next Generation) aka Leopard 2T is an indigenous upgrade package developed by Turkish Company Aselsan. Similar in capability to the Leopard 2 Revolution. Dedicated Model Page Read More …
Leopard 2 Tank Operators
Please note: (unless otherwise stated) all operator numbers ordered, dates and price info is obtained from the Arms Trade Register. You will find links for dedicated pages to each countries model Leopard 2 Tank under “model” in the listings if available.
Model: Leopard 2A4
114 surplus Leopard 2A4 bought from the Netherlands. Ordered in 1996 for $236,000,000, deliveries were completed in 1998.
Already operating the Leopard C2 in Afghanistan, the Canadian army loaned 20 Leopard 2A6M from Germany in 2007. In 2007 and an agreement with the Netherlands to purchase 80 surplus Leopard 2A4 was signed with deliveries completed in 2015. An additional 12 surplus Pz87 hulls were purchased from Switzerland in 2011.
20 of the A4 bought from the Netherlands were upgraded by KMW to the Leopard 2A4M CAN standard and first deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010. A total of 42 Leopard 2A4 are used for training whilst the A6M and 2A4M are combat ready.
A number of the Leopard 2 A4 and Pz87 have been converted to Armored Recovery Vehicles and Combat Engineer Vehicles.
Model: Leopard 2A4 CHL
Chile ordered 172 surplus Leopard 2A4 from Germany in 2006. These were upgraded with new suspension, a roof mounted Remote Weapons Station, new sights and Battle Field Management System and improved roof and side armour to the turret. Deliveries ran from 2007 to 2009.
Model: Leopard 2A5DK
Denmark purchased 51 surplus A4’s from Germany in 1997. These were over-hauled and upgraded to the A5 variant and were delivered to the Danish Army between 2002 – 2005.
Denmark purchased a number of the Mine protection kits as used on the Leopard 2A6M for those serving in Afghanistan aka Leopard 2A5MDK.
Model: Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A6
124 Leopard 2A4 were purchased from Germany and delivered between 2002 and 2003 for $66,000,000. An additional 100 surplus Leopard 2A6 were purchased from the Netherlands for 200,000,000 Euro’s. Deliveries started in 2014 and expected to be complete in 2019.
Leopard 2L, an AVLB carrying the LEGUAN bridge, 10 have been built from converted Leopard 2A4.
Leopard 2R, Heavy mine breaching vehicle. They are mounted with a plough or a dozer blade, and an automated marking system. All work has been carried out by Finnish Firm Patria. 10 have been built from converted Leopard 2A4.
Model: Leopard 2A4, Leopard 2A5 (Storage), Leopard 2A6, Leopard 2A6M and Leopard 2A7 (Active)
As the original manufacturer, at its peak the German Army had 2125 Leopard 2 A4. Many have been sold on to other countries at the end of the Cold War or been upgraded by KMW. A total of 225 Leopard 2 were upgraded to the Leopard 2A6. In 2003, x15 A6’s were modified with the M up-armoring kits. As of 2011, these 225 A6 were Germany’s active tank force until 14 Leopard 2A7 were delivered to the Army by KMW in late 2014.
In 2015 it was announced that an additional 100 Leopard 2 (model unspecified, most likely A4) were to be bought out of storage and upgraded (A7?) to increase the number of active Leopard 2 Tank in the German Army.
Model: Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A6 HEL
The Hellenic Army have operated the Leopard 1A5 Tank since 1998. To complement this, Greece ordered additional Leopard 1A5 in 2003 and secured the licence to produce the Leopard 2 Ex, the export version of the Leopard 2A6 in a deal worth 1.7 billion Euro’s. Designated the Leopard 2A6 HEL, a total of 170 have been delivered to the Hellenic Army between 2006 to 2009, of which 140 were built by the Greek firm ELBO.
In 2005 Greece ordered 183 surplus Leopard 2A4 from Germany for 420,000,000 Euros. These were delivered from 2005 to 2007.
Model: Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2RI
In 2012, Indonesia placed 2 orders for the Leopard 2. The first was 42 surplus Leopard 2A4 from Germany and the second was for 61 Leopard 2A4 upgraded to the Leopard 2RI standard. The Leopard 2RI is upgraded with elements of the Leopard 2 Revolution.
Model: Leopard 2NL, (old model) Leopard 2A5 (storage) and Leopard 2A6 (Active)
The Dutch Army was the main export client of the Leopard 2 during the Cold War. The Dutch Army is the only operator of the Leopard 2 Tank to withdraw it from service (due to budget cuts).
The Netherlands initially ordered 445 Leopard 2 Tanks in 1979. deliveries ran from 1982 to 1986. The Leopard 2NL had locally produced Smoke Grenade Launchers, passive night periscope for the driver, 7.62mm FN MAG coaxial Machine Gun and Philips radios.
These Leopard 2 were bought up to the A4 model and still refered to as the Leopard 2NL. The Netherlands participated in the KWS projects to improve protection and firepower of the Leopard 2A4 with both Germany and Switzerland. 330 of the original 445 Leopard 2NL were bought up to the A5 model and of these 188 were upgraded to the A6 model in 2003.
On April 8th 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced The Royal Netherlands Army tank division would be dissolved and the remaining Leopard tanks sold due to large budget cuts. On the 18th of May 2011 the last tank fired the final shot at the Bergen-Hohne Training Area.
A number of Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A6NL have been sold to other countries, including Canada, Finland and Portugal. On September 15th 2015, the Dutch government ordered that the army would have a new tank squadron by 2016, which will have 16 of the remaining Leopard 2 in national storage and an additional 18 Leopard 2A6 leased from Germany.
Model: Leopard 2A4NO
Ordered in 2000, deliveries of the 52 surplus Leopard 2A4 from the Netherlands were completed in 2002 for a total of $168,000,000. A second order for 5 Leopard 2A4 was placed in 2001 and delivered in 2002. All these vehicles were fitted with new multi-role radios and fire fighting equipment.
Model: Leopard 2A4, Leopard 2A5 and Leopard 2PL
Poland has operated the Leopard 2A4 since 2002 and will have the most modern exported Leopard 2 Tank model in NATO service. The Polish Army received the first of 128 A4 models in 2002 with the final delivery in the following year. These surplus A4 tanks were gifted to Poland from Germany following Poland’s membership to NATO in 1999.
A second delivery of 14 Leopard 2A4 from Germany was completed in 2014 for 180,000,000 Euros, with a follow on order for the same price, of 105 Leopard 2A5. These tanks were delivered from German storage in 2015.
The Leopard 2PL is the new designation for the modernization and upgrade of the 128 Leopard 2A4 delivered between 2002 to 2003. On public display for the first time at the MSPO Defence Expo 2016, they will include elements of the Leopard 2 Revolution package.
Model: Leopard 2A6
Portugal purchased 37 surplus Leopard 2A6 from the Netherlands and 1 training vehicle in 2007 for 78,000,000 Euros. The vehicles were delivered from 2008 to 2009.
Model: Leopard 2A7+
62 Leopard 2A7+ Tanks were ordered from KMW in 2013 for 1.89 Billion Euros (includes PzH 2000 SPG). Adapted for operating in hot climates, as of 2015 a minimum of 10 had been delivered.
Model: Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2SG
182 surplus Leopard 2A4 were ordered from Germany in 2007. Deliveries started in the same year and were completed in 2012. Since then a large number have been upgraded with elements of the IBD Evolution package and re-designated the Leopard 2SG.
Model: Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2E
Seeking a replacement to the Spanish lice built AMX-30B and ageing M60A3, Spain initially leased 108 surplus Leopard 2A4 Tanks in 1995 from Germany. The lease was extended in 2001 and in 2005 bought them for 16,000,000 Euros.
In 1998, Spain secured the rights to licence build the Leopard 2 Ex, the export version of the Leopard 2A6. Designated the Leopard 2E (El español), the first 30 Leopard 2E were built-in Germany by KMW and the remaining 189 were built by Spanish Company Santa Bárbara Sistemas. Production and delivery of the Leopard 2E ran from 2003 to 2013.
Santa Bárbara Sistemas was bought by the European Land Systems Division of General Dynamics, now meaning that GDLS manufactures both the American Abrams and Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks.
Model: Strv 121 and Strv 122 (Leopard 2S)
Sweden initially leased 160 surplus Leopard 2A4 from Germany in 1994. These vehicles were designated the Strv 121. In the same year an additional 120 Leopard 2A5 were purchased as part of a $770,000,000 deal, which included the leased Strv 121.
The Swedish Leopard 2A5 are designated the Strv 122. They have additional armor over the upper glacis of the hull like the Leopard 2 Ex and include the French GALIX Active Protection System. These vehicles were delivered to the Swedish Army from 1996 to 2002.
The Strv 121 are no longer in service. There has been a number of improved versions of the Strv 122, the Strv 122B and Strv 122B+.
The Pz 87 is the Swiss designation of a Swiss licence built Leopard 2A4. Pz stands for “Panzer” or rather “tank” in English and the 87 refers to the year deliveries of the first vehicles to the Swiss Army.
The Pz 87 WE (Werterhaltung) is the most modern version of the Pz 87. The first 2 prototypes were completed in 2003 and featured new armor packages, sighting equipment and Remote Weapon Station. However the actual Pz 87 WE did not recieve the full upgrades offered by Swiss Defence Company Ruag.
Model: Leopard 2A4 (Active) and Leopard 2NG (Prototype)
Turkey has operated a number of tanks from different countries and employed international upgrades such as the Israeli Sabre package for the M60 Tank series in service with Turkey.
Turkey has purchased to 2 separate orders for the surplus Leopard 2A4 from Germany (and Leopard 1). The first was for 298 tanks in 2005, which were delivered between 2006 to 2010 and a second order for 56 tanks in 2009, which were delivered between 2010 to 2014.
Turkish Leopard 2A4 were seen being used by the army in the July 2016 attempted Coup.
The Leopard 2 NG (Next Generation) aka Leopard 2T is an indigenous upgrade package developed by Turkish Company Aselsan. This vehicle as of 2016 is not in Turkish Service.
Leopard 2 Tank Combat History
Germany deployed the Leopard 2A5 as part of the contribution to the KFOR international peacekeeping force in Kosovo. One was recorded contributing to a gunfight between Peacekeepers and a Yugo with two armed men in it.
Canada deployed 20 leased German Army Leopard 2A6M during the War in Afghanistan (2001–2014). These were modified with A/C. In one reported incident, one vehicle was struck by an IED on the 2nd of November 2007. Canadian Forces reported the vehicle and crew survived the attack. 5 of the new Leopard 2A4M CAN were deployed between December 2010 and mid January 2011 to rotate of duty some of the A6M CAN’s. The Leopard 2A4M CAN’s Combat tour ended in July 2011, all tanks have gone through a rebuild.
The Danish Army also deployed its Leopard 2A5DK. On the 25th of July 2008, a vehicle hit an IED. Sadly the driver lost his life despite assistance from Danish Army Medics. The Leopard 2 has served in operations supporting troops of other nations including British Forces in Afghanistan who have commended the crews and vehicles.
Leopard 2A4 Tank Specifications
|Main Gun||Rheinmetall L44 – 120mm, calibre Length 44 smoothbore
Elevation -9 to +20
|Secondary Weapons||x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 7.62mm MG|
|Ammunition Storage||x42 120mm, x4,750 7.62mm|
|Engine||MTU Mb 873 ka 501, turbocharged 1500hp Diesel|
|Transmission||RENK HSWL 354, 4 speed forward/2 reverse|
|Top Road Speed||68 km/h|
|Fuel Capacity||1160 litres|
|Water Capability||1m (4m with Snorkel)|
|Length Gun Forward||9.67m|
||3.75m (with side front hull armor)|
|Height||2.48m (roof top)|
|Weight||55,000kg aka 55 tonne combat|
|Active Protection Systems||No|