While the Leopard C2 has performed exceptionally well in combat, officials note that this platform is 30 years old and beginning to show its age. Battle Squadron 1 RCR BG soldiers submitted to the chain of command, in November 2006, a summary of recommended modifications to make the Leopard C2 more suitable
for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in the harsh environment of Afghanistan. Indicative of the tremendous support provided to the soldiers by both military and civilian leadership, the government of Canada announced in April 2007 that it would not only address Leopard C2 deficiencies in the interim,
but that it would authorize the lease for immediate combat operations of 20 Leopard 2A6M from the German Army and the subsequent purchase of 100 Leopard 2A4 and 2A6 from the Dutch. While this tank has not yet been tested in combat, many countries revere the Leopard 2 as one of the best tanks worldwide.
Weighing in at over 60 tonnes, the Leopard 2 boasts an impressive 1500 horsepower engine (compared to the 830 horsepower of the Leopard C2), and is equipped with the L55 120 mm smooth bore gun. An electric drive turret allows the gun to be traversed much more quickly, while significantly reducing the heat inside the vehicle. Most importantly, the Leopard 2A6M will provide unprecedented protection from the mine and IED threat in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Leopard 2 is not yet equipped with the tank implements that
have saved many lives in operations. An armoured engineer vehicle on a Leopard 2 chassis (Kodiak) is deployed by the Swiss Army, however, it is unarmed and not yet deployed by other countries.
In order to ensure that tactical battlefield mobility and protection is not impaired with the introduction of the Leopard 2, technical staff should immediately seek to design and apply a modification to the Leopard 2 that would allow implements to be mounted. Tests would need to be conducted on the impact of mounting
implements onto this chassis, which is already 15 tonnes heavier than the Leopard C2. Consideration should also be given to retaining a mixed fleet of Leopard C2 and Leopard 2 vehicles in the theatre until this technical issue can be resolved.
The lessons learned during Operation MEDUSA by the Canadian Army leadership included the importance of maintaining heavy armour as part of a balanced force. At the request of Commander RC(S), Canadian Brigadier General David Fraser, the Canadian government announced on 15 September 2006 the
imminent deployment of an enhancement package to better facilitate “reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan” which was to include a squadron of Leopard C2 tanks. Beginning in December 2006, the tank squadron and armoured engineers featured prominently in all major combat operations undertaken by the Canadian Battle Group, including at BAAZ TSUKA and ACHILLES, working side by side with Afghan National Security Forces, American Special Operations Forces (SOF), and ISAF troops.
The Battle Squadron was initially responsible for establishing attack byfire positions in support of infantry companies and in forming the nucleus of a Battle Group countermoves force capable of responding throughout the entire Canadian area of operations. Many Taliban insurgents learned the hard way of
the capabilities of the Leopard ’s main gun during the following years when attacking Canadian strong points with rocket propelled grenades (RPG) and indirect fire.