Switzerland ships first batch of Leopard 2A4 tanks to Germany, restricts use in Ukraine
A photo of the Swiss Panzer 87 tanks (Leopard 2A4) was recently published on the Bulgarian Military portal; these will soon join the German armed forces. Berlin initiated the purchase of these vehicles, retired from Swiss service, at the beginning of the previous year, and the sale of 25 Leopard tanks was approved in November 2023.
The article says, "Switzerland has ample surplus resources, including 96 inactive Leopard 2A4 units". Nevertheless, the authorities have placed restrictions on these tanks, stating they cannot be dispatched to Ukraine. Consequently, Germany will receive equipment it fundamentally cannot provide as aid to the front lines.
However, the Bulgarian Military highlights a caveat. It concerns Switzerland's agreement to station these machines in a NATO or EU member state other than Germany. As per the article, this paves the way for a third party to furnish other countries with tanks and replace them with the German Leopards sourced from Switzerland.
The Swiss version of Leopard 2, Panzer 87
The Swiss Leopard, also acknowledged as the Panzer 87 version, is a variant of the 2A4 model wherein several subtle but consequential modifications were incorporated. Journalist Łukasz Michalik from Wirtualna Polska explains that one of the key changes was adding an additional silencer to the tank. This makes the vehicle much quieter than the original Leopard 2A4 and allows for conducting combat drills near inhabited areas.
The Swiss variants were also enhanced with extra baskets for equipment, a handle for the heated machine gun barrel (MK3 cal. 7.62 mm), and an artillery position alarm that aids the driver viewing through the hatch in the structure.
The Leopard 2A4, introduced in 1985, is essentially a German main tank. The Swiss version features a smoothbore Rh-120 L/44 cal. 120 mm gun with a capacity of 42 rounds and an MTU MB 873 Ka-501 power unit generating 1500 HP. This allows the tank to reach a velocity of roughly 43 mph.