The German Army (Bundeswehr) has received the first modernized Leopard 2A7 Main Battle Tank (MBT) upgraded by the original manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Delivered on December 10, 2014 , the tank was the first of a batch of 20 former Dutch MBTs to be upgraded for the German Army. In addition, KMW is gearing up to begin the production of 62 Leopard 2A7s for the armed forces of the Emirate of Qatar. These new tanks will be delivered next year.
The 20 upgraded Leopard 2A7s are based on German-built 2A6 models bought by the Canadians from the Royal Dutch army and transferred back to Germany. This reciprocal action enabled the Canadians to retain the 20 tanks they loaned from Germany in 2007 for operations in Afghanistan. These tanks were modified specifically for the Canadian forces that operated for four years in the country.
When it was time to return the vehicles, Canada opted to acquire surplus Dutch tanks that would be stripped of the Dutch specific modifications and rebuilt to the German standard model. However, the Bundeswehr decided, along with the Canadians, that it would be a good opportunity to remodel these tanks into the latest A7.
These 20 modified MBTs will be the most advanced of the 225 Leopard 2 tanks of several models that remain with the German Army, from the original fleet of 2,125 Leopard 2 tanks produced for it since 1979.
The Leopard 2 A7 features optimized protection against asymmetrical and conventional threats, particularly IEDs, mines and RPGs. It is also prepared to carry additional passive side armor if such a need should arise. The tank is equipped with accessories attachments, enabling the tank to be fitted with a mine plow, a mine roller or a dozer blade for clearing mines, booby traps or building debris blocking the way. The fighting compartment and turret are air conditioned, enabling the crew to operate inside on extended missions in hot or cold climates. To support the air conditioning and some of the electronic and electrical systems even when the main engine is shut down, the tank uses a 17kW auxiliary power unit (APU).
The driver is equipped with an imaging device combining thermal and 3Gen night vision device, improving driving safety even low-visibility conditions, such as fog, dust, smoke and total darkness). The tank’s Improved, stabilized, panoramic commander sight also features combined thermal and daylight optronic sensors, along with a laser rangefinder, providing better situational awareness and observation at longer range.
The tank retains the L/55 120mm smooth-bore gun, but adds the Rheinmetall DM11 high explosive multi-purpose (HE-MP) round, fitted with a programmable fuse, which improves effectiveness in urban warfare, when firing at buildings, bunkers and fortified positions.
Many of these upgrades are not new; nor are they exclusive to Germany. Some have already been implemented by a number of the Leopard 2 operators, including Canada, Greece, Singapore, Spain and Sweden, but Germany is only just now introducing them.
“The obvious question is of course: ‘When can we convert the remaining 205 Leopard 2A6M +, A6 and A5 convert to the A7, so that not only 20 crews can use the most advanced and safest system?” commented Frank Haun, KMW Chief Executive Officer.