The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank (MBT) that was developed in Germany during the 1960s. The company in change of its design and production was Krauss-Maffei of Munich. They Leopard 2 entered into the service for the German Military in 1979 and have since been used in twelve other European Countries as well as other countries worldwide. Leopard 2 battle tanks were used in Afghanistan and Kosovo and are still in operation at many military outposts across the globe. The Leopard 2 MBT was designed to replace the Leopard 1 and was so successful in doing this, that it remains one of the best MBT’s in the world. It has outperformed many of its rivals including the M1A2, Challenger 2 and Lerlec by offering better protection with superior armor, as well as better firepower and mobility. It was widely considered to be the most advanced MBT in the world during the 1970s. The Leopard 2 hold a 2 man crew. It weighs 62 tons, is 7.7m in length, 3.7m high and 3.7 m wide.
Description of the Leopard 2
The hull of the tank is divided into three sections
- The driving compartment
- The fighting section
- The engine
Each of the first two compartments is equipped with observation periscopes. On the left of the driver, there is an area for ammunition storage. There is also a 65 degree horizontal and vertical viewer located at the rear of the tank alons with a monitor that provides help when the driver is reversing.
One of the more popular variants to the Leopard 2 MBT is the Leopard 2A6.
One of the most notable additions to this MBT is the Rheinmetall 120 mm L55 smoothbore gun. This gun is much longer than those found on the earlier 2A5. It also has a larger muzzle velocity and therefore has greater firing accuracy at long range targets. New ammunition was also developed for the Leopard 2A6 that increased penetration. These were the the APFSDS-T anti-tank rounds and HEAT-MP-T multi-purpose rounds. The Leopard 2A6 is able to carry a total of 42 rounds for its main gun. 15 of the rounds are ready to use while the remainder are stored in a special section of the hull.
The Leopard 2A6 M offers troops better mine protection under its chassis as well as a number of other enhancements that improve their survivability in the field. The Leopard 2A6 M CAN variant incorporates a special area for communications in the form of black boxes locates on the back of the turret bustle.
The vehicle is run by a MTU V-12 turbocharged diesel engine that is located in the rear. It has a maximum top speed of 68 km/h and generating 1500 horsepower. Even though it is significantly larger than the original Leopard 2 and other variants, it still maintains its mobility.
Production and Distribution of the Leopard 2.
The German Ministry of Defence ordered 1,800 Leopard 2s in 1977. The Netherlands received 445 during July 1981 – July 1986, a few of which were resold to Austria, Canada and Norway and Portugal. 280 Leopards were also purchased by Sweden.