What are the capabilities of the German Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank?

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Germany is well-known for its engineering because of the high quality educational system of the country. Germany has made many state-of-the-art military equipments loaded with the best technology available on the planet. One of them is the German Leopard 2 Third-generation Main Battle Tank, a battle proven weapon system, which is operated by the Armed Forces of Germany, Austria, Canada, etc. The Leopard 2 is famous for its excellent battlefield survivability, effectiveness in urban warfare, and its impressive firepower.

Main Battle Tanks are are heavily armoured vehicles that fulfills the role of armor-protected direct fire and maneuver of many modern armies. They are the key components of modern armies.

The Leopard 2 was originally developed by Krauss-Maffei in the 1970s for the West German army. The tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the West German Army.

It is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon, and is powered by a V-12 twin-turbo diesel engine. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and 13 other European countries, as well as several non-European nations, including Canada, Chile, Indonesia and Singapore.

The Leopard 2 was used in Kosovo with the German Army, in Afghanistan with the Dutch, Danish and Canadian contributions to the International Security Assistance Force, and saw action in Syria with the Turkish Armed Forces.

The Leopard 2 has two main variants, Leopard 2A4 which have vertically faced turret armour, and the improved batch, namely the Leopard 2A5 and newer versions, which have angled arrow-shaped turret appliqué armour together with other improvements.

All models feature digital fire control systems with laser rangefinders, a fully stabilised main gun and coaxial machine gun, and advanced night vision and sighting equipment (first vehicles used a low-light level TV system or LLLTV; thermal imaging was introduced later on). The tank has the ability to engage moving targets while moving over rough terrain.

The Leopard 2 uses spaced multilayer armour throughout the design. The armour consists of a combination of steel plates of different hardness, elastic materials and other non-metallic materials.

Steel plates with high hardness and high ductility are used on the tank. The armour is a result of extensive research about the formation and penetration mechanism of shaped charge jets.

The Leopard 2A4’s armour has a maximum physical thickness of 800 millimetres (31 in) based on unofficial measurements and estimates made by former conscripts and professional soldiers of the German army.

On the Leopard 2A5 and subsequent models, the thickness is increased by the wedge-shaped armour module to 1,500 millimetres (59 in).

The side and the rear of the tank protect against heavy machine guns, medium caliber rounds and older types of tank ammunition. The side of the hull is covered by armour skirts to increase protection against projectiles and RPGs.

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The frontal third of the hull sides is covered by heavy ballistic skirts, while the rest of the hull sides is covered by steel-reinforced rubber skirts. For increased protection against mines, the sides of the hull floor are sloped by 45° and the floor is reinforced with corrugations.

The Leopard 2A7 features the latest generation of passive armour and belly armour providing protection against mines and IEDs.

The Leopard 2A7 is fitted with adapters for mounting additional armour modules or protection systems against RPGs.

According to a description page hosted by the Federation of American Scientists, the armour of the Leopard 2A4 is believed to provide protection equivalent to 700 mm armour steel (RHA) against kinetic energy penetrators and 1000 mm RHA against shaped charge warheads.

The main armament of the Leopard 2 is a 120 mm Rheinmetall L/44 or L/55 smoothbore gun with 42 rounds. The ammunition of the gun comprises 27 rounds stored in a special magazine in the forward section of the hull, to the left of the driver’s station, with an additional 15 rounds stored in the left side of the turret bustle, which are separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically operated door.

If the ammunition storage area of the tank is hit by enemy fire, a blow-off panel in the turret roof would direct an explosion upwards away from the crew compartment.

The gun of the tank is fully stabilised, and can fire a variety of types of rounds, such as the German DM43 APFSDS-T anti-tank round, which is said to be able to penetrate 560 millimeters (22 in) of steel armour at a range of 2,000 metres (2,200 yd), and the German DM12 High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT).

For the L/55 gun, a newer APFSDS-T round was introduced to take advantage of the longer barrel, the DM-53, which is said to be able to penetrate 750 mm of RHAe armour at a range of 2,000 meters. The bore evacuator and the gun’s thermal sleeve of the A4 and A5, designed to regulate the temperature of the barrel, are fabricated from glass-reinforced plastic.

The barrel has a chrome lining to increase barrel life. The main gun is capable of power elevating from +20° to −9°.

Rheinmetall has developed an upgrade for Leopard 2 tanks to give them the ability to fire the Israeli LAHAT anti-tank guided missile through the main gun. The missile can engage targets out to a range of 6,000 metres (20,000 ft).

The German Army has prioritised mobility in the Leopard 2, which has made it one of the fastest MBTs in the world.

The tank is powered by a MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled V12 twin-turbo diesel engine, which generates the maximum power of 1,500 PS (1,479 hp, 1,103 kW) at 2,600 rpm.

The tank has the maximum speed of 70 km/h (43 mph).

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