"Leopard" with a transparent tower

Foreign tank builders demonstrated their latest achievements

"Leopard" with a transparent tower
Held in mid-June near Paris, the world's largest exhibition of ground weapons, Eurosatory-2010, was, as never before, rich in novelties in the field of armored vehicles. The main stars of the salon were two new projects of German companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall - Leopard 2A7 + and MBT Revolution, as well as the most modern Israeli tank Merkava Mk4, which was first shown abroad. In some Russian media outlets about this, uniform crying broke out over the innocently killed by the current leadership of the Ministry of Defense T-95. However, the conceptual approach demonstrated by the German and Israeli tank builders is more likely evidence of the loyalty of the decision to cease work on the “195 object”.

Marketers of German firms Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, in preparation for Eurosatory-2010, became very popular, presenting modernization packages for previously released MBT models as a kind of revolution in the field of armored vehicles. However, in essence, Leopard 2A7 +, which is declared by developers as a new generation combat vehicle, equally suited for operations in large-scale conflicts and peacekeeping operations, primarily in urban areas, is a somewhat modernized version of Leopard PSO (Peace Support Operations - peacekeeping operations) . It was first shown at Eurosatory back in 2006. MBT Revolution is a package of modular solutions whose implementation can bring Tanks early modifications to a very modern level. There is nothing revolutionary in both projects; such modernization options are being worked out in many countries, including Russia. Only the volume of changes offered by one package is a little unusual. At the same time, it seems that a complete re-equipment of one of the Leopard 2 versions under the Revolution project will cost the customer very, very expensive.


Leopard 2A7 + has a modular additional protection, advanced on-board equipment, improved mobility. According to the developers, it is equally well suited for both dueling tank battles in a "big war" and for counter-terrorist operations, including in urban settings. To do this, Leopard 2A7 + increased resistance to explosions on anti-tank mines and improvised land mines, and also has a two-level modular set of armor protection. Victory in dueling fights should be enhanced by strengthening the frontal projection of the hull and turret, which increases the resistance of the booking to the defeat by feathered sub-caliber armor-piercing projectiles and striking elements of cluster munitions. To counter the latter, however, it is necessary to strengthen the protection of the upper part of the tower and the body, but for some reason this is not mentioned in the official materials of Rheinmetall.

The invulnerability of the tank during the fighting on city streets is designed to provide all-view protection against shots from hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers.

The Leopard 2A7 + ammunition includes a new high-explosive fragmentation projectile with a DM 11 remote fuse that can be exploded above the target, in front of it or inside it: for example, breaking through a building wall. Ammunition is designed to destroy infantry, located behind natural or artificial shelters, as well as light armored vehicles.

The composition of the fire control system (FCS) introduced sights commander and gunner with third-generation thermal imagers. Installed day and night systems near vision, including the driver.

Note that the equipment of the tank includes an auxiliary power unit, improved climate system - this will improve the habitability of the machine in hot climates.

The tower is equipped with a combat remotely controlled FLW 200 module, designed to accommodate different types of weapons: 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, 7,62-mm or 12,7-mm machine gun.

In order to increase the mobility of the tank, the designers equipped the Leopard 2A7 + with new onboard gearboxes, new tracks, torsions, and improved the braking system. On the front of the machine body can be mounted blade.

As you can see, there is nothing supernatural in the next modification of the Leopard. And the statement that the Eurosatory-2010 shows a tank of a new generation, nothing more than an advertising move. On the export prospects of Leopard 2A7 + nothing is yet known, but the Bundeswehr has already announced its intention to upgrade to the level of 2A7 + 150 "Leopards" of earlier versions (possibly 2A5).


Much more interesting is the second project of German tank builders, which was positioned as a revolution in the modernization of the MBT. Demonstrated at the Paris salon MBT Revolution was a deeply modernized Leopard 2A4. The main areas of improvement designed to turn a tank released in 1985-1992 into a modern combat vehicle capable of confronting virtually all existing challenges are the following:

- a dramatic improvement in protection, overhead elements covering the entire turret and frontal part of the hull, as well as two-thirds of the side (i.e., fighting compartment), must protect the tank from shots of all types of grenade launchers and, above all, RPG-7, from mines, improvised land mines affecting elements of cluster munitions, OBPS, anti-tank missiles with optical-electronic, infrared and laser guidance systems;

- implementation of the “digital turret” technology, that is, the introduction of modern display tools, network solutions and components into the LMS, allowing tracking of the movement of their troops and enemy forces in real time, all-day observation and aiming devices, providing the crew with an almost all-around view from armor: all this will allow tankmen to reduce the response time to a particular threat;

- improving the characteristics of the SLA, so that the tank could hit targets with the very first shot, especially in motion;

- the introduction of a “commander” brake into the design of the machine, which allows the senior crew member to stop the tank from his workplace if necessary: ​​this function is positioned as very useful when moving a multi-ton mastodon through the city streets, largely depriving him of the well-known awkwardness of the elephant a china shop;

- introduction to the tank ammunition modern shells;

- equipping the machine with a modern, stabilized, remotely controlled combat module of auxiliary armament;

- the use of a communications system that allows the crew to exchange information with the surrounding infantry;

- introduction into the design of an auxiliary power unit, which supplies electricity to numerous electronic systems without the need to turn on the main engine: this not only saves the service life, but also reduces the thermal and acoustic visibility of the machine;

- installation of equipment designed to incorporate each main battle tank into a single automated rear support system: this greatly simplifies and speeds up the process of providing tank units with ammunition, fuel and other rear assets.

The set of proposed changes is more interesting than in the case of Leopard 2A7 +. True, it is impossible not to note two features that can be viewed as flaws: obviously, the high cost of alterations and a significant increase in the mass of the tank, getting out of the limits of sixty tons. That is why you should consider the individual elements of the modernization program MBT Revolution in more detail.

One of the most important factors in enhancing the security of a machine is the ROSY smoke screen system developed by Rheinmetall. It not only forms a multispectral smoke cloud on the detected radiation direction in less than 0,6 seconds, but also forms a dynamic smoke “wall” allowing the tank to quickly evade defeat in the event of a massive approach of anti-tank missiles.

The onboard equipment of the tank includes an optoelectronic detection system stabilized in two planes. It consists of a thermal imager, day camera and laser range finder. Necessary to the commander and the gunner to assess the situation data - the goal, the distance to it, the type of ammunition, the state of the system itself - are displayed on the display in the fighting compartment. On it can be displayed as a circular panorama of the battlefield, and its fragment, visible through a normal sight.

Constant circular surveillance of the battlefield, reducing the burden on the commander and gunner, is provided by the information system (SAS). Its functions include the automatic detection and tracking of potential targets. SAS consists of four optical modules (although to reduce the price of a modification, only two of them are allowed) at the corners of the tower, each of which has three lenses with an angle of view of 60 degrees, as well as a high-resolution color camera and night vision components. To reduce the crew’s response time to a threat, information about the SAS target detected can be immediately transmitted to the SLA, primarily to the new-generation Qimek remote combat module located on the roof of the tower.

The composition of the ammunition upgraded tank is proposed to include new types of ammunition. In addition to the DM 11 high-explosive fragmentation projectile already mentioned, this is a feathered sub-caliber projectile with a separating pallet DM-53 (LKE II) 570 mm long, equipped with a tungsten alloy core (adopted for 1997), its modification DM-531 and further development DM 63. The last two munitions are positioned as the first in the world ITS, maintaining constant ballistic characteristics regardless of the ambient temperature. According to the developer, shells are optimized specifically for punching "dual" reactive armor and can hit all types of modern tanks head on. These armor-piercing ammunition can be fired from 120-mm smooth-bore guns made by Rheinmetall with a barrel length of both 44 and 55 calibers.

The onboard equipment complex is integrated into the INIOCHOS ACS of the tactical level, developed by the same Rheinmetall company and allowing to distribute information from the brigade commander to a separate soldier or combat vehicle. This system is used in the armed forces of Greece, Spain, Sweden and Hungary. All of them, with the exception of the sun last, have in their arsenals and various modifications of the Leopard 2.

Thus, the modernization of the tank, carried out under the MBT Revolution project, makes it possible to transform an armored monster, the creation ideology of which provided for conducting tank battles in the image and likeness of the battles of World War II, into a modern machine equally well prepared for both battles with enemy tanks and guerrilla formations possessing only mobile anti-tank weapons. The latest developments in the field of electronics, optics, communications give the crew, instead of very limited in angle of view and range, fragmentary “pictures” in periscopes and sights, a complete panorama of the surrounding space, reflecting the enemy’s location and maneuvers of his unit. The concept of a digital tower actually helps the crew to look through the armor. But it is precisely this property that is one of the most important when creating a new generation tank with an uninhabited turret and armored capsule for the crew, which was conceived by the domestic T-95. That is, if there is an opportunity to work out the most important technologies of the future on machines already built earlier, there is no need to hurry with the development of a fundamentally new MBT concept, because the modernization potential of third-generation postwar tanks has not yet been exhausted.

This does not mean that Russia should completely abandon the creation of a new generation tank, moreover, such work must be conducted at an accelerated pace. However, priority attention now needs to be paid not to the caliber of the cannon, to the layout and armor protection scheme, but to the technologies that the Germans are proposing to implement on third-generation tanks today. Especially since this is where the weakest link of the Russian defense industry complex is located.


Leopard 2 is considered to be the best Western tank. This is confirmed by the extensive export of the machine. Today, in addition to the Bundeswehr, it is in service with the armies of 15 states in Europe, America and Asia. Moreover, the good export potential of the machine is still preserved. In contrast, another debutant Eurosatory-2010 - Israeli Merkava Mk.4 has no such potential.

There are several reasons for this. This is the high cost of the tank, estimated from 5 to 6 million dollars apiece (for comparison: Leopard 2А6 costs about 4,5 million), and a large mass - about 65 tons, and the design, largely focused on a single theater of military operations - Middle East, and the limited capacity of Israel for the mass production of own-developed tanks. At the same time, the demonstration of the Merkava Mk.4 in Paris attracted the attention of specialists, including, according to eyewitness accounts, the head of the armed forces of the RF Armed Forces, Vladimir Popovkin. The reason is clear - all the same modern technologies embodied by Israeli tank builders in the construction of this MBT.

According to the developers, the interest of the foreign military (including, as it turned out, the Russian) is that the OMS allows the tank to confidently hit attack helicopters, an automated combat control system that receives information from other vehicles and UAVs, which forms the picture of the battlefield and exchanges it with subunit tanks, and an active defense system. Currently, the equipment of the Merkava Mk.4 MBT is being conducted with a Trophy system designed to counter ATGM and RPG shots. This is the first serial, adopted system of this type. It consists of four radars mounted on the turret, which detect grenades and anti-tank missiles flying up to the tank, and of two rotating launchers located on the right and left sides of the turret, which shoot in a threatened direction small anti-missiles. The cost of one system Trophy - about 200 thousand dollars.

It is known that the world's first system of this type - the Arena active protection complex was developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the 80s. However, the collapse of the USSR and the subsequent period of systemic crisis prevented the adoption of the “Arena” for service and introduction into the troops. According to estimates of domestic experts, the combat capabilities of the Arena are higher than the Israeli counterpart. Whether this is true or not is difficult to say, especially since other specialists representing the rival camp of the attackers consider that the Trophy, like any other complex of this type, is not an insurmountable obstacle for modern anti-tank rocket launchers and anti-tank systems. But, apparently, KAZ "Arena" still retains its combat potential, allowing to increase the security of domestic tanks and increase their attractiveness in the eyes of foreign buyers.

When analyzing the results of the past Eurosatory-2010 salon in the field of armored vehicles, it should be emphasized that the Russian MBT does not yet demonstrate a catastrophic lag behind foreign models. Moreover, in some areas, in particular in the field of active protection systems, a certain priority remains. But here it should be noted that the amount of work on the development of modern technologies in the field of visualization, automated troop control and weaponsThe connection is very large and requires urgent cardinal decisions, possibly related to the import of the most critical technologies.
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  1. dred
    2 January 2012 17: 19
    Leopard is the coolest tank.
    1. Lech e-mine
      2 January 2012 17: 21
      AHA so he was two years ago haha.
  2. TeR
    15 December 2014 19: 55
    And after another two (almost three) years? laughing