Ukraine's Finnish Leopard 2R: A Specialized Vehicle Mitigating Mine Threats
A recent image showed Ukrainians utilizing one of several Leopard 2R engineering vehicles to carve out safe paths through minefields, which - according to the Ukrainian commander of the Leopard 2A6 tank - pose one of the most significant threats to tanks.
Even minor damage can immobilize a tank, making it vulnerable to other anti-tank weapons, drones, or artillery. Ukraine has received six of these vehicles from Finland. However, following two destructions and one damaged unit, they now potentially have between three or four left.
The Leopard 2R - A mine-destroying machine offering safe passage for tanks
The Leopard 2R was conceived using the Leopard 2A4 tank base, with Finnish company Patria at the helm of development. Modifications included removing the turret and notably enhancing the anti-mine protection, in addition to fortifying the sides and roof of the cabin for its three-man crew. Notably, the interior of the tank is lined with a fragment-proof layer, and the seats are fixed to the roof for protection.
This heightened protection was necessitated by the fact that demining vehicles carving out safe routes for traditional tanks often become primary targets for anti-tank missile operators or assault helicopters. When one of these vehicles is destroyed, the rest of the column cannot advance, effectively disrupting evacuation capabilities. This scenario was evident at the outset of the unsuccessful Ukrainian counteroffensive in Zaporizhia.
Equipped with a Pearson Engineering Route Opening Mine Plough (which resembles giant spider legs), an electromagnetic sweep for detonating mines operated by a different fuse than pressure, and a plow, the Leopard 2R tanks also boast a 12.7x108 mm caliber NSW large-caliber machine gun for self-defense. It's interesting to note that, much like the rest of the Leopard 2 tank variants, this engineering version, weighing over 110,231 pounds, is a state-of-the-art design, powered by a 1500 HP diesel engine.