TechPortugal's gift to Ukraine. Leopard tanks with a German twist

Portugal's gift to Ukraine. Leopard tanks with a German twist

Leopard 2A6 tank on the training ground.
Leopard 2A6 tank on the training ground.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter)

3:59 AM EST, December 14, 2023

It has been reported in Portugal that 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks will be refurbished on Germany's dime as compensation for the transfer of three Leopard 2A6s to Ukraine. Renovation of these units, already inspected by specialists from the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GMBH & CO. KG (KNDS) corporation, is speculated to take three years.

The Leopard 2A6 - Once a top-ranking tank in NATO's European region

Designed at the turn of the 21st century, the Leopard 2A6 tank upgraded its predecessor, the Leopard 2A5. It boasts enhancements like superior armor, fortified by specific wedges installed on the turret.

The wedges, made of two steel plates with rubber coverings and air in between, markedly augment the tank's defense against cumulative warheads and kinetic penetrators that tend to sidetrack and hit the main armor.

The Leopard 2A6 brought in a longer Rheinmetall Rh-120 L/55 gun, facilitating APFSDS-T penetrators to achieve greater speeds, hence better target penetration. Another significant upgrade was the introduction of the hunter-killer mode.

In this mode, the tank commander uses an inherent thermal imaging sighting system to identify targets. Once a target is found, the gun automatically positions itself in the direction of the target. Subsequently, the gunner refines the aim and eliminates the target. This innovative method for quickly spotting and destroying targets was pioneering at the time.

To surmise, the Leopard 2A6 tanks were crafted to counteract even the elite Soviet, and later Russian, tanks and anti-tank tools. For Russians, particularly those in fewer numbers handling the newer, non-depleted T-90M and T-80BWM tanks, the Leopard 2A6 poses a real challenge.

However, it's important to note that contemporary Leopard 2A6 tanks have lagged in certain aspects, leading to the development of updated versions like the Leopard 2A7V and 2A8. These new models cater to current battlefield conditions, where threats from long-range anti-tank guided missiles such as the Spike NLOS or "kamikaze" drones are constant.

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