Friday, September 30, 2011



A lot of U.S. tankers would disagree, but a consulting firm called Forecast International, asked to rate the world’s tanks, argues that the most recent version of the German Leopard 2A6 edges out the M1A2 as world’s best. “This potent tank has been greatly improved in the latest operational version, the A5 (Improved), maintaining the lead that it has held for some time,” the report concluded. It noted that the version of the Leopard 2A6 that was recently adopted by the Swedish Army after competitive trials is “even better than the A5 as used by Germany. This is due to the incorporation of a new, advanced command and control system and the Galix vehicle protection system. The Leopard 2S also features a new passive armor system.”

The German Army’s version of the Leopard 2 has also been upgraded with a longer gun tube and new ammunition. This version is called the Leopard 2A6. The M1A2 was rated as having the best crew protection of the tanks rated. Its IVIS system also drew high marks for its communication capabilities.

Other features of the Leopard 2 series that drew high praise were the tank’s MB 873 diesel engine, improved turret armor protection, and a new all-electric gun control and stabilization system that eliminates the danger of a hydraulic fluid fire and operates more quietly. New fire control components and some repackaging of the components within the turret have improved the “fightability” of the tanks, making the Leopard’s “hunterkiller” target acquisition even more effective. But the report noted that the Leopard 2’s lead over the M1A2 had closed over the years and was now exceedingly small. Much of the rating hung on the improved cannon.


The addition of the Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer, with its target hand-off capability, brought the Abrams to the same level as the Leopard 2 in terms of a “hunter-killer” target acquisition system. Unlike all other tanks, the newest Abrams also has the Inter Vehicular Information System which, as the report notes, “Adds a significant capability that is lacking in most other tanks; in point of fact, with regard to the vital communications task, due to the level of interconnectivity, the M1A2 beats out the Leopard 2 hands down.”
The Abrams’ passive protection (its armor) was rated the best in the world.

The Abrams led the world in adopting the gas turbine engine. One can argue its advantages and disadvantages, the report noted, but few nations are willing to adopt these engines because of their high
fuel consumption versus diesels: “The performance of the engine on the M1 is not questioned; many nations feel that the associated support of the vehicular gas turbine-powered Abrams is just too much for them to afford.” On that point, an MTU diesel has been integrated into the M1 which is under consideration by the
Turkish Army.

The system enhancements recently funded for the Abrams will improve fire control, command and control systems, and other electronics and “will keep this tank at or slightly ahead of the Leopard 2 in the area of electronics,” the report said. While the U.S. has looked at the longer 120mm gun tube being adopted by the
Germans, the Germans do not use depleted uranium penetrators and may have needed the additional barrel length to equal the lethality of the U.S. system, according to one U.S. officer familiar with current armament development. The report stressed that lethality was a major consideration in the Abrams’ high ranking, given its overwhelming superiority in the fighting to liberate Kuwait.


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