Steel Aces

Play for Free Tank MMO

Patreon

Support The Site

KMW-LEOPARD-2A6
Germany

Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank Series

Dutch Leopard 2A5 Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
1977
Czech Leopard 2A4 Tank
Status
In Service
Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Table of Contents

Steel Aces Play for free
the highly anticipated MMO tactical tank shooter for 2024.

Introduction

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 23 nations, the most recent being the sale of the Leopard 2A8 to Norway in 2023 to replace or supliment their ageing surplus A4 variant.

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.

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).

This page serves as an overview of all Leopard 2 Tank variants, international models and upgrade/modernization packages linking too dedicated pages of each of these.

Background

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.

Firepower

The Leopard 2 has historically always used the Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore main gun called the L44, which stood for calibre Length 44.

A more capable replacement for the L44 was sought as part of the the Kampfwertsteigerung (KWS) capability improvement programme in 1988.

Two different main guns were developed. A 120mm calibre Length 55 smoothbore, complete with a new range of improved ammunition (KWS I) and a 140mm smoothbore (KWS III).

The KWS I project was eventually selected for the program. The increased calibre Length of the barrel meant the armour piercing round had further to travel when fired, which allowed the energy of the combustible charge to build up behind it for longer, which pushed it out faster and resulted in greater accuracy, range and “punch” when it hit the enemy tank. The L55  main gun was added as part of the A6 variant upgrade.

A new version of the L55 smoothbore called the L55/A1 has been developed and installed on new A8 (export) and some A7 variants in German Army service. The guns performance has been enhanced with improvements to its pressure capabilities. Rheinmetall have also been developing a new range of ammunition.

The Leopard 2 tank series also uses a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 7.62mm machine gun mounted on the loaders hatch. Some technology demonstrator vehicles have featured a Remote Weapon Station for mounting additional machine guns.

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.

In 2016, Rheinmetall unveiled their Advanced Technology Demonstrator that featured a new modular Hard-Kill Active Protection System.

In 2021, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and General Dynamics European Land Systems signed an agreement to form a joint venture company under the name of EuroTrophy to deliver the Trophy hard-kill Active Protection System to European and NATO alliance members.

Trophy has been successfully integrated into the Leopard 2A7 and re-designated the A8, which has been purchased by Norway.

 

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.

Some of the new A7 variants have modifications to their gearbox and suspension to cope with the additional weight of their other upgrades.

Variants and Marks

German Production Models

The following variants are those manufactured from 1977 to present day by KMW and Rhienmetall for the Germany Army (former Bundeswehr and current Deutsches Heer) and Dutch Army:

Leopard 2A0

Leopard 2A0 Tank
Leopard 2A0 Tank

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.

Leopard 2A1

Leopard 2A1 Tank
Leopard 2A1 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.

Leopard 2A2

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.

Leopard 2A3

Leopard 2A3 Tank
Leopard 2A3 Tank

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.

Leopard 2A4

Leopard 2A4 Tank
Leopard 2A4 Tank

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. READ MORE

Leopard 2A5

The A5 (Also Known As KWS II) saw improvements in armor and additional protection features, most notably the wedge-shaped Modular Expandable Armour System, aka MEXAS. READ MORE

Leopard 2A6

Leopard 2A6 Tank
Leopard 2A6 Tank

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).

Several sub variants have been developed of the A6 in German Army service, that feature a number (but not all) of the upgrades of the A7 variant. READ MORE

Leopard 2A7

Leopard 2A7 Tank
Leopard 2A7 Tank

The Leopard 2A7 primary upgrade is the use of programmable High Explosive Fragmentation DM11 & DM12 rounds, which have required modifications to the breach and Fire Control System.

The A7 has been developed into other sub variants in the German Army. READ MORE

Leopard 2A8

This designation was created in 2023 and describes a newly built Leopard 2A7 that features both the L55/A1 main gun and Trophy Active Protection System. READ MORE (Located on A7 page)


KMW Leopard 2 Prototypes

The following are prototypes developed KMW for both the KWS program and the export market, to demonstrate the full potential upgrades the company had to offer.

Leopard 2 Improved

Leopard 2 Improved during Swedish Trials
Leopard 2 Improved during Swedish Trials

KMW built the KVT prototype in 1989, which featured all the “bells and whistles” that KMW had to offer for the KWS II. This prototype was an upgraded A4 and known by KMW as the Leopard 2 Improved. READ MORE (Located on A5 page)

Leopard 2EX

Built in 1996, this vehicle was a technical demonstrator to showcase to potential export clients the enhanced lethality capabilities of the Leopard 2A6 and the full array of available upgrades. READ MORE (Located on A6 page)

Leopard 2PSO

Leopard 2 PSO
Leopard 2 PSO

Developed by KMW on a Leopard 2A5 turret, the PSO was developed as a tech demonstrator to showcase technology that enhanced the Leopard 2’s survivability in urban areas and in-support of peace keeping missions. READ MORE (Located on A5 page)

Leopard 2A7+

Developed by KMW as an evolution of the PSO, it is also used by KMW as a generic term for a client who is buying a Leopard 2A7 with out specifying the selected upgrades purchased. READ MORE (Located on A7 page)


Rheinmetall Leopard 2A4 Packages

Since 2020, Rheinmetall has expanded its portfolio of technological services and products through acquisitions of existing sub-system providers, too offer Leopard 2A4 operators unrivalled upgrade packages:

Leopard 2 Evolution

Leopard 2 Evolution
Leopard 2 Evolution

Developed by German Company IBD Deisenroth Engineering (now part of Rheinmetall), featuring their AMAP armor range in a modular armor system offering all-round protection. READ MORE

MBT Evolution

MBT Evolution by Rheinmetall
MBT Evolution by Rheinmetall

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. READ MORE

Leopard 2 MBT Revolution

Leopard 2 MBT Revolution
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. READ MORE

Advanced Technology Demonstrator

Leopard 2 MBT Tech Demonstrator
Leopard 2 MBT Tech Demonstrator

Developed by German Company Rheinmetall, The ATD is an improved and re-branded earlier Leopard 2 Revolution, focusing on a digital architecture. READ MORE


International Upgrade Packages

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. READ MORE

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. 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.

Operators

Listed below is a short overview of Leopard 2 operators. Most use former German and Dutch Army Leopards.

For further details read more – Leopard 2A4 Page > Leopard 2A5 Page > Leopard 2A6 Page > Leopard 2A7 Page > Leopard 2A8 Page and navigate to “operators” section for in-depth information on numbers, status, purchase date etc

Or click on upgraded models that are underlined for dedicated page.

  • Austria – Leopard 2A4
  • Canada – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2AM CAN / Leopard 2A6M CAN
  • Chile – Leopard 2A4
  • Czech Republic – Leopard 2A4
  • DenmarkLeopard 2A5DK (Former) upgraded to Leopard 2A7DK
  • Finland – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2A6 / Leopard 2L (AVLB) / Leopard 2R (Heavy mine breaching vehicle)
  • Germany – Leopard 2A4 & Leopard 2A5 (in storage) / Leopard 2A6 & sub variants / Leopard 2A7 & sub variants / Engineering and support vehicles
  • Greece – Leopard 2A4 / Licence built Leopard 2A6Ex (Leopard 2 A6 HEL)
  • Hungary – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2A7HU / Engineering and support vehicles
  • Indonesia – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2RI
  • Netherlands – Leopard 2A4 & Leopard 2A5 (Former) / Leopard 2A6NL
  • Norway – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2A8
  • Poland – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2A5 / Leopard 2PL (indigenousness upgrade)
  • Portugal – Leopard 2A6
  • Qatar – Leopard 2A7+
  • Singapore – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2SG
  • Spain – Leopard 2A4 / Licence built Leopard 2A6Ex (Leopard 2E)
  • Slovakia – Leopard 2A4
  • Sweden – Strv 121 (former) / Strv 122 & sub variants
  • SwitzerlandPz 87 (former) licence built Leopard 2A4 / Pz 87 WE (indigenousness upgrade)
  • Turkey – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2A4T1
  • Ukraine – Leopard 2A4 / Leopard 2A6 / Strv 122

Combat History

KFOR – NATO Operation in Kosovo 1999

Germany deployed several A5 as part of the initial invasion and later security patrols without any major incidents or engagements.

War in Afghanistan 2001–2021

Canada deployed both Leopard 2A6M CAN and Leopard 2A4M CAN in the conflict. In late 2006, a Leopard 2A6M CAN drove through an IED. The vehicle survived and the crew did not receive any injuries.

Denmark deployed 3 Leopard 2A5DK Tanks to Afghanistan to support ISAF troops in the South of the country, scoring a number of successful engagements with the Taliban. In 2008, the driver of a Leopard 2A5DK was lost after the his vehicle was hit by an IED.

Operation Euphrates Shield 2016

In August 2016, Turkish Armed Forced Launched Operation Euphrates Shield, a cross border operation into North Syria to fight ISIS and achieve other regional political objectives.Turkey deployed Leopard 2A4 tanks with several losses.

Russo-Ukrainian War

Ukraine has received various different models of the Leopard 2 in differing conditions from several countries. Non of these tanks are the latest versions and have dated armour. At least three vehicles have been lost.

Specifications

characteristic
Result
Main Gun
Rheinmetall L44 – 120mm, calibre Length 44 smoothbore Elevation -9 to +20
Secondary Weapons
Coaxial 7.62mm Machine Gun, Loaders 7.62.mm Machine Gun, Optional Remote Weapons Station with 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
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%0.54m
Length Gun Forward
9.66m
Length Hull
7.72m
Width
3.7m Overall
Height
2.48m Turret Roof
Ground Clearance
0.54m
Weight
55.1 Tonnes
NBC Protected
yes
Standard Armor(s) Type
Steel, Composite, Spaced
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Composite, Bar, Modular
Active Protection Systems
no
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver