At present, the armies of the leading military powers of the world are armed with tanks of the third post-war generation. These include the American M1 Abrams, the Chinese Type 88 and Type 99, the Russian T-80 and T-90. Germany is no exception: the main combat vehicle of the Bundeswehr today is the third-generation tank "Leopard 2".
The Germans have always been famous for good technology, and the tank building school is excellent for them, so the Leopard 2 tank is considered to be one of the best main tanks in the world. Its development began even during the Cold War, since then numerous modifications of the machine have been created. On the merits of the "Leopard" says the fact that this tank was adopted in two dozen countries in the world.
The Germans themselves say that the Leopard 2 is the best main battle tank at the moment. Of course, in each country they praise the products of their own military-industrial complex, but in this case such a statement is not far from the truth. A lot of experts really consider Leopard 2 as the strongest tank of modern times.
It is the “Leopard 2” that can be called the main tank of NATO, and not like the American “Abrams”. By the way, the German tank in its characteristics is not inferior to the "Abrams" (at least).
Until 2018, more than 3 thousand Leopard units rolled off the assembly line, and they are licensed to be produced in several other countries.
History of creation
In the mid-50s of the last century, Europe began developing a new tank, which later received the name "Leopard-1". The purpose of this project was to create a tank that would not be inferior to the Soviet military vehicles of the time.
Production of "Leopard-1" began in Germany in 1965, almost immediately it was adopted by several European countries, where it was produced under license. In the future, "Leopard 1" was repeatedly upgraded, he was in service with ten countries in the world.
However, already in 1967, German designers began developing a new tank, which would later become the "Leopard 2". Initially, the Americans participated in this project (MWT-70), but very soon the differences between the partners led to the fact that each country began developing its own tank.
The German national program is called the "Gilded Leopard" (then "the Wild Boar"). In 1969, two prototypes of the new machine were created and their tests began. In Germany, initially developed two cars with cannon weapons ("Leopard-2K") and rocket weapons ("Leopard-2FK"). At the same time, research was carried out in different directions: in the use of smooth-bore guns of various calibers, hydropneumatic suspensions, running gear elements and fire control systems on the machine. Soon, work on the tank with rocket weapons was stopped.
Krauss-Maffei AG was the main contractor, Porsche was involved in design and running gear, Wegmann developed the tower, and AEG Telefunken developed the fire control system. From 1972 to 1974, several variants of the hull structure and turret were manufactured.
In 1973, the car received its current name, a little later, several Leopards were tested in the USA along with an American promising tank, and showed comparable characteristics to it.
After all the tests and design improvements in 1977, a modification of the Leopard 2AV with multi-layered armor and a new fire control system (FCS) was adopted by the Bundeswehr, and two years later the mass production of this machine began.
The German tank "Leopard-2" is made according to the classical scheme, with the control compartment in front of the vehicle and the engine located aft. The fighting compartment with the turret is located in the center of the machine, a smooth-bore 120-mm gun is installed in the turret.
The armor protection of the frontal projection of the tank is multi-layered. Frontal armor plates have a vertical location. Airborne armor enhanced anti-cumulative screens.
In front of the machine to the right is the driver's seat, there is also a part of the ammunition and machine controls. In the front compartment is also a filtering unit.
The turret contains the seats of the tank commander, gunner and loader; a Rh-120 / L44 smoothbore rifle from the Rheinmetall company was installed along with a paired 7.62-mm machine gun. The barrel of the gun is covered with a heat shield and has an ejector. The tower has a feed niche, which is located ammunition, a niche is equipped with expelling panels. Leopard 2 has no automatic loader.
The internal part of the fighting compartment is covered with a lining of special aramid fiber, whose main task is to reduce the number of zabronevy fragments.
Also on the turret of the tank are mortars for the production of a smoke screen.
From the very beginning of the development of "Leopard-2" was the question of increasing its firepower. Before the designers had a choice between a 105-mm rifled gun and a 120-mm smooth-bore. As a result, Leopard 2 was the first in the Western world to receive a 120-mm cannon. Thanks to the successful design of the tank gun "Leopard 2" is considered one of the best in the world.
In the stern of the tank is the power compartment, it is the engine and transmission. The V-shaped diesel engine MB 873 with twelve cylinders is located along the body of the machine. The engine has liquid cooling and turbocharging. Its capacity is 1500 liters. with. Engine-transmission compartment is separated from the fire-resistant partition wall.
The engine is equipped with two turbochargers and two air coolers. Two air intakes are located at the stern below the rear of the turret.
The transmission tank is hydromechanical, with a 4-speed gearbox of planetary type.
The running gear consists of seven basic and four supporting skating rinks on each side. Suspension - torsion bar with friction shock absorbers. The overhaul of the car is made after a run of 10 thousand km.
To overcome water obstacles, a pipe is installed above the commander's hatch, the sights and support of the turret are sealed, and valves are installed on the exhaust pipes. "Leopard 2" can not fight immediately after forcing a water barrier.
The LMS "Leopard-2" includes:
- weapon stabilizer in two planes with electrohydraulic drive WHA-H22;
- analog electronic ballistic computer;
- laser rangefinder EMES-15;
- PERI-R17 Panoramic Periscope Scope;
- auxiliary telescopic sight FERO-Z 18,
- control system of operation of the MSA.
The system allows you to fire both the gunner and the tank commander, while the actions of the commander are priorities. To hit a target, simply point the sight marker at it. Thanks to the excellent stabilization of the gun and the perfect LMS "Leopard 2" can effectively fire in motion. Monitoring tools provide excellent visibility to all crew members.
On the newest modifications of the car, the review of all crew members has been increased to 360 degrees due to the use of improved thermal imaging cameras.
"Leopard 2" is equipped with an automatic fire extinguishing system, there is also a system that creates excessive pressure inside the tank - this is a means against weapons of mass destruction. On the latest versions in the car installed an additional air conditioning system.
For a long time of operation, the tank "Leopard 2" has been repeatedly improved and therefore there are many modifications of this machine.
The base modification was produced from 1979 to 1982.
In 1982, a modification of the Leopard 2A1 appeared, in which the body armor was improved and thermal imagers were installed on the car, which significantly improved the visibility for the crew. In addition, they changed the placement of the ammunition and, taking into account the operating experience, increased the reliability of some units of the tank.
In 1984 began the release of a new modification of the machine - Leopard 2A2. This tank received fuel tanks of new design, as well as a more advanced system of protection against weapons of mass destruction.
Leopard 2AZ received a new radio station and a new parking brake, it removed the hatch for loading ammunition.
On Leopard 2A4 installed a new tower with reinforced armor, made on the basis of titanium, as well as a more advanced fire extinguishing system. This modification of the tank was produced from 1985 to 1990.
The release of Leopard 2А5 began in 1995 and lasted until 1998. This modification received mounted dynamic protection modules. A new driver's hatch was also installed, the review for it was improved, the hull at the location of the driver's seat was strengthened. The tank tower has undergone modernization: the gun mask has changed, the frontal and onboard armor has been enhanced by the modules of the spaced armor. The gun received a more fireproof electrical stabilization system instead of an electro-hydraulic one. The commander received a new independent thermal imager of the next generation, which was built into the panoramic surveillance device. The tank has a GPS navigation system. As a result of these changes, the weight of tan increased to 59.5-62 tons.
Modification of Leopard 2A6 appeared in 2001. In essence, this is the Leopard-2A5 tank, which was equipped with a new gun with a length of 55 calibres. Depleted uranium shells were added to the ammunition. Increasing the length of the gun dramatically increased the initial speed of the projectiles, which significantly increased the armor penetration. Improvements touched and weapon control systems. Despite all the changes, the weight of the machine remained at the level of 62 tons.
In 2010 came the last modification of the car - Leopard 2A7 +. This tank received a new combat module located on the roof of the turret, consisting of a 12.7-mm machine gun and a 76-mm grenade launcher. Its control is remote.
The body of the car received additional passive protection, special attention was paid to the protection of the sides of the car. The bottom was also strengthened. Each and all crew members received the opportunity of a circular review at the expense of thermal imaging cameras.
The tank undercarriage was also improved. To power on-board equipment at the stern installed additional power plant. At the request of the customer tank can be equipped with a blade.
Here is a list of the improvements that were made in the Leopard 2A7 + tank compared to the 2A6:
- significantly improved protection against mines and land mines;
- hinged elements are designed to protect against ammunition that pose the greatest danger to modern tanks: BOPS, cumulative grenades (like RPGs), ATGMs, affecting
- cluster munitions items;
- on the tank implemented the concept of "digital tower";
- improved SLA;
- The latest sub-caliber projectiles with a detachable pallet (BOPS) DM-53, as well as programmable high-explosive shots DM-12 were introduced into the ammunition;
- The Leopard 2А7 + version has a communication system with infantry units that operate together with a tank;
- Leopard 2А7 + is equipped with equipment that allows it to be included in the general support system, which greatly simplifies the supply of armor units with ammunition, fuel and spare parts.
It can be said that Leopard 2А7 + can more successfully than old modifications act not only under normal conditions, but also take part in combat operations in the city.
The weight of the latest modification of the Leopard was 67 tons.
The Bundeswehr has already announced its intention to modernize part of the Leopard 2A6 and Leopard 2A5 tanks to the level 2A7 +. Information about the modernization of 150 cars was voiced. Currently, the main armored force of the German army remain modifications 2A5 and 2A6.
Other countries that exploit Leopard 2 also show interest in the new product. Until 2018, twenty new Leopard 2A7 + machines were manufactured. Many experts believe that this modification is the last one; it is impossible to further improve the tank, since its modernization potential has been exhausted.
Tank "Leopard 2" is one of the best main battle tanks of the world. He regularly gets into various tank ratings, habitually taking the highest prizes.
The latest modifications of the Leopard-2 really look perfect: the enhanced armor protection of the front projection and the side parts make it possible to talk about the high security of the vehicle, a powerful weapon able to cope with any opponent, and excellent aiming devices and observation devices are guaranteed to be detected first.
All of the above makes the "Leopard 2" (the latest modifications) a formidable opponent for any modern tank.
The most recent sub-caliber ammunition with a separating tray with a tungsten alloy core is used on the latest modifications of the tank. This allows you to hit all types of modern armored vehicles.
There were complaints about the insufficient mine protection of the bottom, but on the A5, A6 and A7 + modifications this problem was eliminated.
The undoubted disadvantage of this machine is its high cost.
TTX tank Leopard 2A6
|Combat weight, t||59,9|
|Main dimensions, m:|
|length with a gun forward||11,29|
|side screen width||3,74|
|height over the roof of the tower||2,64|
|Track width, m||0,635|
|machine guns, cartridges||5 500|
|Maximum speed of the movement, km / h:|
|on the highway||72|
|Engine power, l. with||1 500|
|Engine weight, kg||2 590|
|Mass of the power block, kg||4 840|
|ditch wide, m||3|
|vertical wall height, m||1,1|
|rise of steepness, hail||30|
|roll steepness, hail||15|
|water barrier (ford) depth, m:|
|water barrier depth (with OPVT *), m||4|
|Cruising on the highway, km||550|
|Capacity of fuel tanks, l||1 200|