Meet the Leopard 2: Poland delivered its first batch of Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) to Ukraine around the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion in late February. While several Western nations have promised to secure a variety of advanced armored vehicles to aid Ukraine defensive efforts over the last year, the shipment of Leopard 2A4 tanks represented the first foreign tanks actually delivered. Widely considered to be one of the best MBTs in service today, the Leopard 2 tank could be the game changer Ukraine is hoping for at this point in the invasion.
Since the Leopard was initially designed to counter some of the most formidable armored vehicles the Soviet Union produced, the influx of these variants to Ukraine will be paramount to the country’s success.
Introducing the Leopard Main Battle Tank
The third generation Leopard 2 tank was developed by manufacturer Krauss-Maffei in the 1970’s to replace its Leopard 1 predecessor. The German-made armored vehicle incorporated more capabilities and improvements than its predecessor the Leopard 1 tank. In fact, almost as soon as the Leopard 1 entered service in the mid-1960’s, the German government set its eyes on a new-generation tank.
In 1967, the Gilded Leopard study commenced and the race to create a tank featuring key enhancements began. By 1979, the Leopard 2 entered service and was immediately recognized as the best armored vehicle in the Warsaw Pact.
Although the Leopard 1 was a decent MBT, its successor featured some significant facelifts. Overall, the Leopard 2 was more mobile, better armored and equipped with a larger, more powerful gun. The fully-stabilized Rheinmetall RH-M-120 120 mm smoothbore gun is accompanied by 42 rounds in the tank. Additionally, 15 ready-to-use rounds are stored in the turret bustle, while the remaining rounds are positioned by the driver.
As explained by Popular Mechanics, “The Rh-120 is highly accurate while shooting on the move due to a two-axis stabilization system that counteracts the tank’s movement against the position of the Rh-120 gun barrel. Older tanks need to come to a halt to fire accurately at enemy targets, an action that collectively slows an attacking force’s momentum. The Leopard 2’s stabilization system allows the main gun to remain oriented against a target even while the tank is maneuvering over rough terrain. This gives the Leopard 2 a high level of accuracy while shooting on the move, or a spill-free delivery of a stein filled with beer.”
The upgraded tank also sports a sophisticated fire-control system, ballistic computer, laser range finder and thermal night vision comparable to the U.S.-made M1 Abrams tank.
Leopard 2 tanks in Ukraine
Last week, the Ukrainian tank crews sent to Spain to undergo a series of trainings to properly use the Leopard 2 armored vehicles returned home. A total of 40 crew members and 15 mechanics spent four weeks learning the ins and outs of the German-tank, according to Reuters.
This training trip followed announcements made by Poland, Sweden and Germany late last month that additional Leopard 2 tanks will be shipped to support Ukraine. The U.S. Defense Department also revealed that 21 M1 Abrams tanks would be delivered to Ukraine by the fall.
Tank warfare has played a significant role in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, making the influx of powerful Western tanks a potential tipping point in the conflict.
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Maya Carlin is a Senior Editor with 19FortyFive. She is also an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel.
March 25, 2023 at 4:14 pm
Ace in the hole ???
More like crap in the hole.
Leopard 2 MBTs used by turkiye in syria suffered several battlefield casualties.
They proved vulnerable to kornet and milan atgm used by outlier jihadist groups.
There was even one case where a turk Leopard 2 was totaled or crippled by a nearby truck explosion or truck bomb.
March 25, 2023 at 7:56 pm
Breaking News,you people still have faith in this counterfeit offensive too , Zelensky do not have no faith either Google Zelensky Offensive
March 25, 2023 at 8:09 pm
“the Leopard 2 tank could be the game changer Ukraine is hoping for at this point in the invasion.”
No it won’t. Western tanks will be little more survivable than their Russian counterparts, and mostly because the Russians are poorly supplied with smart weapons. They still have short range cannons whose accuracy is measured in MOA (minutes of angle), instead of the 0.5m accuracy at any distance of a laser guided smart weapon. Their armor is a heavy logistical nightmare to support, but can’t stop any of the dozens of different anti-tank smart weapons from destroying them on the first shot, so why bother? While better at surviving the short range Rocket Propelled Grenades than other armored vehicles, every smart weapon operator is hunting them from stealth a kilometer+ away. The carcasses of 10,000+ armored vehicles litter the Ukrainian countryside, few were destroyed by tank cannons.
March 25, 2023 at 8:11 pm
Lets find out. We need to give Ukraine every opportunity to field test Nato’s equipment. No better environment than the real battlefield. Russia is not going away and if they defeat Ukraine they are not going to stop there!
The Ukrainians have shown resilience and ingenuity. I could not think of a better test environment and more importantly, we need to give them all the support we can.
General Patton called this war out at the end of WWII, he said it will take 5 years if not addressed in 1945. Perhaps not 5 years based on current performance but NATO led by the US is doing an awesome job supporting this brave nation.
March 27, 2023 at 9:19 am
God bless people in the world.
The stabilizer of Leopard 2 is good. May people add this competition in the NATO Tank Challenge. NATO MBT will show their spill-free delivery of a stein filled with beer or a cuppa filled with black tea.
God bless America.