Today’s SOFREP Pic of the Day shows a Leopard 2 main battle tank of the German Bundeswehr during training exercises in Lithuania.

Meet The Leopard 2

The Leopard 2 is a thoroughly modern main battle tank. Originating from Germany, it’s a product of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Designed to replace the older Leopard 1 models, it started its development in the early 1970s and officially entered service with the German Army in 1979, making it by no means new to the battlefield.

Design and Features

The Leopard 2 excels in several key areas:

  • Firepower: The Leopard 2‘s primary armament is a 120mm smoothbore gun, capable of firing advanced armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds and multi-purpose HEAT rounds. This gun is paired with a sophisticated fire control system that allows for high accuracy, even when the tank is moving over rough terrain. The tank also carries two 7.62 mm machine guns for close defense.
  • Armor: Protection is provided by composite armor, which includes hardened steel, ceramics, and plastic filler, with additional modular armor on later models. The latest variants, like the Leopard 2A7, are equipped with improved armor and are capable of mounting additional active protection systems to intercept incoming anti-tank missiles.
  • Mobility: Powered by a V12 twin-turbo diesel engine, the Leopard 2 is capable of reaching speeds up to 68 km/h (42 mph) on roads and maintaining considerable speed even in off-road conditions. Its state-of-the-art suspension and transmission systems provide excellent maneuverability.

Variants and Upgrades

The Leopard 2 has numerous variants, each designed to enhance different capabilities:

  • Leopard 2A4: The most widely used version, featuring improved armor and an automated fire and explosion suppression system.
  • Leopard 2A5: Introduced wedge-shaped armor to the turret, a new gunner’s sight, and an all-digital fire control system to improve defense and accuracy.
  • Leopard 2A6: Extended the main gun’s barrel to 55 calibers, improving penetration and range.
  • Leopard 2A7: Designed for both conventional and urban warfare; includes enhancements in protection, sustainability, and firepower, with modifications for peacekeeping operations.

Operational History

The Leopard 2 has been exported to numerous countries and serves as the backbone of many national armies. It has participated in various international conflicts and peacekeeping missions, showcasing its reliability and effectiveness under combat conditions. Countries like Canada, Greece, and Turkey have deployed their Leopard 2s in different operational theaters, demonstrating the tank’s adaptability to different climates and combat scenarios.

In summary, the Leopard 2 represents a blend of technological sophistication and proven reliability, maintaining its reputation as one of the world’s leading main battle tanks in contemporary military usage.