Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Canadian Army Modernitation Series Leopard Main Battle Tank

The Canadian Army deployed a squadron of Leopard C2 (the Canadian designation for the Leopard A15) tanks to Afghanistan in 2006 and replaced them, late in 2007 with a squadron of 20 Krauss- Maffei Wegmann Leopard 2A6M leased from the German Army. Canadian Leopards have smashed through the outer walls of compounds and used their main guns to blow ‘mouse holes’ to allow infantry to enter buildings. Canadian armour officers speaking at the US Army Armor Conference in May 2008, emphasised that the use of the Leopards, reduced reliance on close air support and artillery, thus providing an immediate response to
infantry needs and also reducing collateral damage.

Leopard C-2 MBT
They noted that in ‘warrior culture’ the tank is a respected sign of strength which has significant deterrent value. The Danish Army followed Canada’s lead and deployed five Leopard 2A5DKs to Afghanistan. Denmark’s Hærens Operative Kommando (Army Operations Command) published a press release describing an action of its Leopard 2s in support of a British-Danish operation in early 2008: “With a great deal of machine gun fire and 20 rounds fired from the guns, the Danish Leopard tank crews engaged the Taliban both out in open terrain and when the enemy forces took cover in compounds. Tank fire, which is frighteningly accurate, penetrates walls but usually does not level a mud-brick compound the way large bombs dropped by aircraft can.”

Denmark’s Leopard 2A5DK tanks are armed with Rheinmetall’s 120mm L44 smoothbore gun. The Canadian Leopard 2A6CAN tanks are armed with the company’s newer 120mm L55 smoothbore gun. The L44 gun, or similar weapons, has long been the standard armament of tanks produced in Western Europe, the USA, Israel, South Korea and Japan. The M256, a licence-produced version of the L44, arms the General Dynamics Land Systems M1 series MBT. Israel, Italy and France manufacture 120mm smoothbore guns which use the same ammunition as the German L44 and US M256. According to Rheinmetall, the 1.3 metre longer L55 barrel increases the weapon’s effective range by about 1,500 metres. The L55 is being retrofitted on a number of Dutch and German Leopard 2s and is being installed in new Leopards being built for Greece and Spain.
Leopard 2A5DK MBT
 Throughout the Cold War the primary purpose of the main battle tank was to kill other tanks and accordingly, emphasis was given to developing ammunition which could penetrate increasingly thick armour. Armour and ammunition manufacturers are continuing to improve KE rounds. Rheinmetall’s latest DM53A1 and DM63 kinetic energy projectiles offer improved penetration when fired from the L44 barrel the muzzle energy is 15 percent than greater earlier KE rounds and 30 percent greater fired from the L55 barrel and have a temperature independent propellant system which means that they can be used even in extreme climate zones at temperatures between -46°C and +71°C.

More emphasis has been given in recent years to the development of multipurpose ammunition which can be used against a broad range of targets and employed in urban areas. Rheinmetall’s latest DM11 120 K High Explosive-Fragmentation-Tracer programmable round is optimised to engage fortified positions and double-reinforced concrete structures in the impact mode and dismounted targets and helicopters in the air-burst mode. The US Marine Corps, through US prime contractor L-3 Communications BT Fuze Products, ordered an initial trials batch of DM11 rounds and is expected to order production quantities this year.


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