Leopard 2A6 HEL Tank

Leopard 2A6EX Tank has been built-in Greece as the Leopard 2A6 HEL with some modifications

The Leopard 2A6EX Tank was an export model of the German Armies Leopard 2A6 Tank, but included a number of improvements developed in the KWS II project, that were not added to the German Army Leopard 2A5 Tank. The first prototype was seen in 2000 and continued to be marketed up to and maybe sometime after 2005.

The Leopard 2A6EX prototype was used by KMW to demonstrate the available technologies for the Leopard 2 Tank to potential export clients and has been built under licence (with local user modifications) in Spain as the Leopard 2E and Greece as the Leopard 2A6 HEL.

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Development

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Armor Upgrades

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Armor Upgrades

During the 1980’s and early 90’s both Germany and France worked on a joint project to develop a new tank, which would have resulted in the Leopard 3. Eventually Germany decided to pursue improved components for the Leopard 2A4 Tank. This included new armor systems and was eventually known as KWS.

Moving forward, as the Cold War started to ease and Germany’s defence budget (like all NATO Allies) was reduced. It was decided to break KWS into 3 parts, KWS I refered to the introduction of a new 120mm calibre Length main gun by Rheinmetall known as the L55, KWS II refered to new Sighting equipment, Armor and additional safety features.

Leopard 2A6EX Tank 2005 defence Expo

Leopard 2A6EX Tank 2005 defence Expo

The German Army only implemented part of the KWS II armor upgrades available, namely MEXAS added to the turrets front and sides, which has a distinct wedge like shape, resulting in the Leopard 2A5 (see full upgrades). The L55 main gun was added later resulting in the Leopard 2A6.

In 2000, 1 prototype was built by the Leopard 2 manufacturer Krauss‐Maffei Wegmann, which featured the Leopard 2A6 with the full range of armor upgrades of KWS II and some additional ones.

Though the agreement for licensed production was signed in 1998, the Spanish Leopard 2E is identical to the Leopard 2A6EX tank as is the Leopard 2A6 HEL built under licence in Greece.

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Upgrades

Protection

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Roof Armor on the Leopard 2E Tank

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Roof Armor on the Leopard 2E Tank

The Leopard 2A6EX has the same MEXAS armor system from the Leopard 2A5, but has an additional armor module over the hulls upper glacis and protrudes partially down the lower plate.

This has resulted in the headlights being moved and replaced with rectangular ones.

It also has a new armor module over the turret roof protecting the fighting compartment from top attack. Built into the module are reinforced crew hatches, which slide shut via a powered mechanism.

The number of existing spall lines from the Leopard 2A5 has been increased and added to the Drivers compartment.

Additional Equipment

The Leopard 2A6EX came with an Air-Conditioning system, with the main cooling unit added to the rear of the turret resulting in a modified shape from that of the German Armies Leopard 2A6.

An auxiliary Power Unit was also installed on the right side of the engine bay, resulting in a visibly higher hull section.

Optional Equipment

The Fire Control System remained the same as that of the German Armies Leopard 2A6, but varying radio systems, GPS and BattleField Management Systems could be installed as per the clients request.

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Operators

Greece

Model: 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. These serve alongside surplus Leopard 2A4 tanks.

Spain

Model: Leopard 2E

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. The Leopard 2E serves alongside the surplus Leopard 2A4 bought from Germany.

Leopard 2A6EX Tank Specifications

Firepower
Main Gun Rheinmetall L55 – 120mm, calibre Length 55 smoothbore
Elevation -9 to +20
Secondary Weapons x1 coaxial 7.62mm MG, x1 7.62mm MG
Ammunition Storage x42 120mm, x4,750 7.62mm
Mobility
Engine MTU Mb 873 ka 501, turbocharged 1500hp Diesel
Transmission RENK HSWL 354, 4 speed forward/2 reverse
Top Road Speed 68 km/h
Road Range 550km
Fuel Capacity 1160 litres
Vertical Obstacle 1.1m
Water Capability 1m (4m with Snorkel)
Trench Crossing 3m
Gradient 60%
Side Slope 30%
Dimensions
Length Gun Forward 11.3m
Length Hull 7.72m
Width
3.78m (with side front hull armor)
Height 3.65m (overall)
Ground Clearance 0.54m
Weight 62,500kg aka 62.5 tonne combat
Protection
NBC Protected Yes
Armor Type Steel/Tungsten/Modular/MEXAS
Active Protection Systems No
Crew
Commander Yes
Gunner Yes
Loader Yes
Driver Yes
Additional Crew
Troops Carried N/A

References:

MEXAS Armor https://web.archive.org/web/20100613162257/http://www.ibd-deisenroth-engineering.de/mexas.html

Leopard 2E https://www.gdels.com/products/others_1.asp

http://www.kampfpanzer.de/vehicles/leopard2

http://www.armyrecognition.com/europe/Turquie/exhibition/IDEF_2005/IDEF_2005_Ankara_Turkey_pictures_gallery.htm