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Battle tank Leopard 2 - Design

The Leopard-2 has a classical configuration with welded body and turret. The tank is equipped with the 120-mm smooth-bore cannon, guidance-stabilized in two planes. Combat load for the gun consists of 42 unit-loaded rounds, fin-stabilized projectiles of two types: armor-piercing sub-caliber with detachable sabot and multi-purpose (shaped charge and HE fragmentation). It is reported in the press that armor penetrability of the first type projectile amounts to 190mm for a target at a range of 2000 meters and angle of incidence of 60 degrees. A 7.62-mm machine gun is coaxially mounted with the cannon; an anti-aircraft machine gun of the same caliber is positioned above the loader's hatch.

The driver has an EMES-15 binocular sight with built-in laser rangefinder and infrared channel, as well as an auxiliary telescopic sight. The commander uses the PERI-R17 panoramic, periscopic sight with stabilizedline of sight. The tank has an electronic ballistics computer and various sensors for non-standard firing conditions. It is equipped with a protective system for weapons of mass destruction, automatic fire-fighting system, heating in occupied compartments, and radio communications systems. Provision is made for the use of underwater operation equipment for negotiating water obstacles.

A 12-cylinder V-shape diesel engine (MB 873 Ka-501), liquid-cooled with turbo-supercharging, is mounted in the tank. The transmission is hydromechanical. The tank has torsion carriage suspension with disk shock absorbers on the first, second, sixth and seventh bogie wheels. Among the German military there was no longer any aversion to the gas turbine such as used on the M-1, although the diesel had been settled on earlier. The main argument against the turbine is its higher fuel consumption, especially when idling. On the part of the German Army there also remained the requirement for deep wading capability. It would be possible to dispense with the capability to submerge, since preference was given to bridge equipment for crossing rivers. Deep wading capability was not as easy to attain with the turbine as with the diesel, since it tolerates no back-pressure and thus could not be started in a tank in water.

For the battle tanks of the third postwar generation, the important tank-building nations began in the 1970s the development of socalled special armor, in the form of multipleply armor or combination bulkhead armor. As early as mid-1976, the socalled Chobham armor, a combination armor consisting of steel, ceramic and aluminum parts, was introduced in England: offered greater protection against KE and CE projectiles while weighing less. The Chobham armor was used in the beginning of the 1980's in the Valiant and the prototypes of the future British Challenger tank. The further developed combination bulkhead armor using armor steel and other metals was used in the Leopard 2, similar to the British "Choban" variety. Anti-shaped-charge plating is mounted on the sides.

In December 1974, the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Leopard-2 tank were evaluated along with Chrysler and General Motors prototypes for selection as the XM1. Should either the General Motors or Chrysler prototype be selected, Germany and Great Britain would be invited to join the XM1 development program in an effort to standardize NATO tank requirements. In a related development, the United States, Great Britain, and the Federal Republic of Germany agreed to a joint evaluation of tank guns to reach agreement on a common gun for future tanks. The U.S. 105?mm. with XM735 penetrator round, the German 120-mm. smooth bore, and the British 110-mm. rifled guns are being tested. Firing trials were completed in May 1975.

With the December 1974 memorandum of understanding of , the FRG obligated itself to send a Leopard 2 [with a 120 mm gun], which was still to be modified, to the United States by September 1976 for comparison testing with the XM-1 [with a 105 mm gun]. Even though it had not been set down in black and white anywhere in a contract, there were, nonetheless, hopes for the most part on the German side of the Atlantic that the Leopard 2 could be introducedby the US Army in view of its superiority vis-a-vis the XM-1.

The Americans set up a total of 117 criteria for the comparison test. The same criteria were also used to choose between the two versions of the XM-1 from Chrysler and General Motors. Some 40 criteria were not rated; of the remaining 77 criteria the Leopard met 61, the XM-1 48. Even in terms of this "go-no-go" procedure, the Leopard would have to be better than the XM-1, without any kind of statement concerning the extent to which a criterion was met. The 117 criteria were combined into 17 evaluation groups by the U.S. Army and suddenly the picture of the comparison, which was also communicated to the public, appeared completely different. The Leopard met only 6 of the 17 requirements, the XM-1, on the other hand, met 16. For example, survival capability of the crew, and the equipment and the height of the vehicle, reliability and weight existed side by side with equal weighting in these 17 evaluation criteria.

From the German point of view an evaluation of the performance of the Leopard 2 in the US test appeared somewhat different, especially if the judgement is measured against the three criteria of fire power, mobility and armor, which, in this order, defined German tank philosophy. In this the Leopard demonstrated, in part, clear superiority in fire power; it performed somewhat better in mobility and was at least equivalent in armor.

Kurdish militants destroyed a Turkish Army Leopard 2A4 tank in February 2018, reportedly by a Soviet-era anti-tank missile launcher in the course of Ankara's operation against Kurdish fighters in Syria. Military experts point to the vulnerable ammunition compartment as the Leopard-2s weakest point. It has been proven once again that the much-touted Leopard-2 tanks have a fatal defect, as most of their onboard ammunition is stored in the forward left section with weak armor protection on both sides, specialists at Russias center of Strategy and Technology Analysis wrote after watching a video of the destroyed Leopard posted by the Kurdish militants.

They added that the first cases of Leopard-2A4 tanks being destroyed as a result of their onboard ammunition blowing up pertain to tanks the Turkish army lost when fighting Daesh forces near Syrias al-Bab in December 2016. Experts believe that the Leopard near Afrin was apparently taken out by a Fagot antitank missile launcher, developed in the Soviet Union in the early-1970s, about a decade before the first Leopard-2 tanks came along. The Fagots are still being used by the armies of more than 30 countries around the world.

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Page last modified: 26-02-2018 18:54:11 ZULU