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Czech Leopard 2A4 Tank
Germany

Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tank

Austrian Leopard 2A4 Tank
Unveiled / Entered Service
1985
Singapore Leopard 2SG
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 2A4 Tank is the most common model of the Leopard 2 Tank family and probably the most significant model in the continuous success of the Leopard 2. West Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland were all operating large Leopard 2A4 tank fleets, but with the end of the Cold War the number of operational tanks in these countries was significantly reduced.

Though some were upgraded, the majority were put into storage. The Leopard 2A4 Tank was very capable and proven to be easily upgradable. The decision to sell these stored Leopard 2A4 at a relatively low-cost, insured reduced operating costs and a secured defence industry in Germany due to a higher demand for spares, ammunition and upgrades.

So successful in fact, the Leopard 2 Tank is the only Main Battle Tank still in production in Europe, with continued exports to the middle-east and upgrade packages being sold as of 2023.

Background

Referred to as the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th production batches, (5th 370 produced between December 1985 to March 1987, 6th 150 produced between January 1988 to May 1989, 7th 100 between May 1989 to April 1990, 8th 75 January 1991 to March 1992), a total of 695 new Leopard 2A4 were built by Krauss-Maffei (KMW) and MaK.

The main upgrade of the Leopard 2A4 Tank was new Tungsten armor added to the front of the turret. Tungsten is a heavy dense material (and safer alternative to the Depleted Uranium armor of the Abrams) making it harder for tungsten FIN-rounds (sabot) to penetrate the armor.

The 5th batch had a new Deugra fire detection and suppression installed, modified return roller positions and a replacement digital core in the Fire Control System. These vehicles also lacked the earlier productions turret side ammunition supply hatch, which had been welded shut in the A3 model upgrade.

The 6th batch had new maintenance free batteries and Diehl tracks. New armored modules were also added to the sides of the forward section of the hull. These could be lifted up to access the tracks. On the 8th batch a muzzle reference system was installed and new side skirts were added.

By 1992 all other older models had been upgraded to the A4 variant (and included the SEM80/90 digital radio from the A3 model), totalling 2125 Leopard 2 A4’s in service with the former Bundeswehr (West German Army).

Firepower

Main Gun

The Leopard 2A4 uses the standard L44 (calibre Length 44) 120mm smoothbore as used on all previous models of Leopard 2. By the 1990’s, there was a growing a concern over the effectiveness of the L44 against new variants of Russian main battle tanks as ammunition technology for the L44 had reached its peak at that time.

This was addressed by Rheinmetall in the KWS program with the development of a new, more capable Kinetic Energy penetrator that would require a new, more powerful main gun of the existing 120mm calibre. Now know as the L55, the new main gun installation was implemented in the Leopard 2A6 upgrade.

Fire Control System

Implemented as part of the A4 upgrade, the vehicle features (at the time) a new DigBal Digital FCS. The systems ballistic computer relies on data from environmental/motion sensors, the EMES 15 laser range finder (which is built into the Gunners HZF main sight) and muzzle reference system to calculate the firing solution.

The initial 200 manufactured vehicles were fitted with the PZB 200 night vision camera. This was replaced during manufacturing with the WBG-X thermal imaging system (also retrofitted into the initial 200 vehicles) serves as a second channel in the Gunners HZF sight.

The commander has his own day sight and has access to view the gunners thermal channel too.

Protection

Armour

The Leopard 2 features spaced and composition type armour. Manufactured A4 vehicles were fitted with a 3rd generation composition. Earlier models of Leopard 2 bought up to the A4 variant did not receive this 3rd generation composition retaining their original Generation – Vehicles from 1979 to 1988 had Gen 1, 1988 to 1991 had Gen 2 and 3rd Gen from 1991 onwards.

The type of material used in the composition is not known. The 3rd generation was believed to use Tungsten, an equally dense material as Depleted Uranium (as used on the Abram’s M1A1) and designed to protect against armoured piercing rounds.

The spaced and composition armour covers the frontal arc of the turret and hull, with an additional x3 distinct armoured modules added along the front sides of the hull.

Additional Systems

The 120mm ammunition is stowed in the lower section of the hull and behind an armoured bulkhead in the turret bustle. The vehicle was initially fitted with a HALON fire suppression system, but since the legal banning of HALON, it is no longer used and replaced with nitrogen. The system features fire detection sensors and automated dispensers. A full over-pressure NBC filtration system is also installed as well as external smoke grenade launchers for laying down smoke screens to mask the vehicle.

Mobility

The A4 uses the same 1500hp MTU diesel engine used on all Leopard 2 variants and torsion bar suspension.  Fuel storage is spread across the vehicle in five separate fuel tanks.

Variants and Marks

Leopard 2A4A1

This former designation was used for tanks that had their fire suppression systems agents changed from halon to nitrogen. All tanks were updated by the end of 1999, at which point the designation was dropped.

Leopard 2A4A2

Designation for Command variant. These vehicles had an additional SEM93 radio and had no visible external modifications.

Operators

Current Operators and Models

Austria – Leopard 2A4

114 surplus Leopard 2A4 bought from the Netherlands. Ordered in 1996 for $236,000,000, deliveries were completed in 1998. It was reported in 2021 that all active/serviceable A4 will be upgraded to one of the Leopard 2A7 models.

Canada – Leopard 2A4M CAN & Leopard 2A4

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. Canada donated eight surplus Leopard 2A4 Tanks in 2023 to Ukraine as part of a larger support package. READ MORE

Chile – 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.

Czech Republic – Leopard 2A4

Germany has supplied the republic with 14 A4 tanks to replace the T-72 tanks donated to Ukraine.

Finland – Leopard 2A4

124 Leopard 2A4 were purchased from Germany and delivered between 2002 and 2003 for $66,000,000. These have since been relegated to reserve or surplus stock following Finland purchasing 100 surplus Leopard 2A6 from the Netherlands in 2014.

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.

Finland operated the British Marksman Anti-Aircraft system on T-55 hulls. In 2015 several of the Marksman Systems were retrofitted on to surplus Leopard 2A4 hulls.

Greece – Leopard 2A4

In 2005 Greece ordered 183 surplus Leopard 2A4 from Germany for 420,000,000 Euros. These were delivered from 2005 to 2007. These serve alongside their licence built Leopard 2A6 HEL.

In 2023 it was announced by the Greek government their intention to have their Leopard 2A4 fleet upgraded to an unspecified A7 variant. These works will completed by KMW who are willing to work with Greek company EODH to provide the companies ASPIS Modular armour solutions. This is not the first time the two companies have worked together as they are both collaborating together on delivering the Leopard 2A8 to Norway.

EODH have been actively marketing their modular system on Leopard 2A4 tanks at defence expo’s in 2022 and 2023.

Hungary – Leopard 2A4

Twelve surplus A4 were supplied as part of the deal in purchasing new Leopard 2A7. Deliveries of all A4 were completed in 2020.

Indonesia – 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.

Norway – Leopard 2A4

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. Norway has donated eight of its A4 tanks to Ukraine.

Norway has since purchased the Leopard 2A8 in 2023. Its most likely all serviceable A4 will go into storage when all A8 have been delivered.

Poland – Leopard 2A4 Tank 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.

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. Production of the vehicle has been slow.

Poland has also purchased surplus Leopard 2A5 tanks from Germany. Since the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Poland has signed an agreement to buy and licence build several hundred South Korean K2 Black Panther as well as 250 M1A2 SEP v3 tanks from the USA. In 2023, Poland donated 14 surplus A4 vehicles to Ukraine.

Singapore – Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2SG

A total of 158 surplus Leopard 2A4 were purchased in 2007. An undisclosed number were upgraded with the IBD Evolution armour package and re-designated the Leopard 2SG. Deliveries of the vehicle were completed in 2012.

An additional 45 surplus A4 were purchased in 2012 and delivered by 2019.

Slovakia – Leopard 2A4

A total of 15 surplus A4 were purchased and delivered in 2022 from Germany.

Spain – Leopard 2A4

Seeking a replacement to the Spanish licence 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 addition, Spain has licence built the Leopard 2E.

The state of their A4 tanks has been reported as poor when inspected by other countries with the intention of purchasing them. Up to 10 A4 have been donated to Ukraine.

Switzerland – Pz87 and Pz 87 WE

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 licence for the production of 380 vehicles was obtained in 1984. The first 35 vehicles were built in and supplied by Germany while the rest were built-in Switzerland. Production ceased in 1993. READ MORE

The Pz 87 WE (Werterhaltung) is the most modern version of the Pz 87. It has a new Battlefield management and communications capabilities were upgraded as well as a new Commanders Independent Sight installed. All work was carried out by Ruag. READ MORE

In 2013 the final Pz 87 WE of the 134 upgraded was delivered to the Swiss Army. Of the remaining original Pz 87, a number have been sold to Canada and Germany. Others have been converted in to Combat Engineer Vehicles and others placed into storage.

 

Turkey – Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A4T1

Turkey has purchased 2 separate orders of 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.

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.

Turkish company Aselsan had developed the impressive Leopard 2NG (next Generation) upgrade, which was due to ahead until the German manufacturers who own the property rights of the tank, legally stopped the project over allegations of the tanks use of anti-kurd operations in Syria.

Since then, Turkey has developed two new upgrade programs. The Leopard 2A4T1 was the initial modular armour upgrade completed by Turkish firm Roketsan in 2021. The second is the “Project for Adding Additional Capabilities to Leopard 2A4 Tanks (TİYK-LEO 2A4). This upgrade looks to address and modernise all the tanks systems.

The number of TİYK-LEO 2A4 planned is not very clear, but Turkish media reported that all A4 could be brought up to this standard (includes the Roketsan armour upgrade).

In 2021, a video of a Turkish A4 hull, featuring added on modules, married to an Atlay turret appeared on YouTube. Its not clear the purpose of this vehicle as Aselsan is still marketing the Leopard 2NG as of 2023. READ MORE

Ukraine – Leopard 2A4

A number of Western/NATO countries have supplied Leopard 2A4 from their own inventory during 2023: Canada 8, Norway 8, Poland 14 and Spain 10. These are in addition to the Leopard 2A6 tanks also donated. Ukrainian forces have added ERA to the lower hull and bar armour to the hull sides.

Former Operators

Germany

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 to the A5 and then again to the A6 model. An unknown number of A4 vehicles are stored and as of 2023 still being pulled from storage for upgrading to the Leopard 2A7 or supplied to Ukraine.

The Netherlands

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 referred to as the Leopard 2NL. Some were later upgraded to the A5 and then A6 models. Those not upgraded and placed in to storage have since been sold.

Sweden

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. Only the Strv 122 is in Swedish service.

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
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%
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, Modular
Optional Add-on Armor(s) Type
Active Protection Systems
no
Crew
Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver