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Leopard-2-140 / Leopard-2KW III

The Leopard-2-140 was embodied in the prototype Leopard 2 (Pz87) of the Swiss Army. Work was carried out in 1990. At the end of the Cold War, Germany was working on the creation of a radically modernized versions of the tank on the basis of Leopard-2 - the Leopard-2-140 and Leopard-2KW III to counter the threat of new Soviet tanks. As the 1990s began, Rheinmetall began developing a 140 mm smoothbore cannon as a future tank cannon. This was intended to counter new developments in Soviet-bloc armoured fighting vehicles, most especially persistent rumours that the next-generation Soviet main battle tank would be armed with either a 135 mm or 152 mm cannon.

This "Revolutionary" tank was to become the Leopard-2KW III, which was to have an armored capsule for three crew members,a 140 mm gun with automatic loader, whereby the gun placed on a turntable with electro-hydraulic drive, shifted to the left side (32 ammunition shells). Test firing gun were conducted, which showed a high penetrating power of the shells, but they were too heavy for the maintenance crew handling. The projectile speed was 1900-2000 m / s with the potential to further increase speed.

The United States was working on the creation of the tank in with 140 mmgun and automatic loader, known at one stage as a pilot CATTB (Component Advanced Technology Testbed) for the Abrams. It is also known to work in the UK to create 140 mmgun, which was tested on the chassis of a Centurion tank.

This program was contemplated as the third stage in the KWS program of modernizing Leopard 2 tanks. KWS I was the replacement of the L44 120 mm cannon with the 55-calibre model, KWS II was a modernization program that became the Leopard 2A5, and KWS III was the development of a new turret including a 140 mm smoothbore weapon system and an automatic loader, which would have resulted in the reduction of the crew size to 3 soldiers. The final project design contained a lateral loading mechanism and had the main gun moved in the left turret side. Ammunition load for the main gun was 32 rounds, which were stored in a large ammunition bunker, covering the full turret rear. Moving the ammunition out of the crew's compartment would have resulted in a higher survivability in case of a penetration. The planned protection level was to be equal to the Leopard 2A5 or better. Command and control of the tank was supposed to be improved by the introduction of the ISIS system in its latest version.

The KWS III was not adopted then, but development continued on the 140 mm weapon system, with Rheinmetall coordinating with Royal Ordnance from the UK and GIAT from France. To test out the weapon's capabilities, the 140 mm gun was mounted to a Leopard 2. The tank was not equipped with the new turret armour of the KWS III improvement program, nor with an automatic loader, and it also still had the electro-hydraulic turret drive. To cope with the extra weight of the main gun, counterweights were added to the turret rear. The tests were partially successful, with the gun showing superior penetration power, but also some difficulties with the handling.






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