Leopard 2 tanks may be handed over to Ukraine. Recent reports of support have sparked a wave of questions and interest. How many tanks does the Polish Army have and how many do they want to transfer to Kiev? What can Leopard 2 tanks do? How are they armed, how much do they smoke and how much do they weigh? we answer.
Medium tanks Leopard 2 became a hot topic after the information that combat machines of the Polish army could go to Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report this, citing a high-ranking Polish diplomat.
Polish Leopards 2 from Poland for Ukraine? It’s not so simple
The head of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, Sławomir Dębski, commented that Poland would like to get rid of all Leopard tanks, but it depends on the supply of new tanks from Korea and the USA. Currently, Leopards are still the backbone of our country’s armored forces.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki noted that “we do not intend to hand over these tanks at the moment.” The head of government suggested transferring heavier equipment within a broader coalition of NATO countries. However, he did not provide details.
Presidential Minister Jakub Kumoch mentioned in an interview that it was about “symbolic support” for Ukraine, at the level of several to a dozen Leopards. Giving the Ukrainians all tanks of this type that the Polish Army has is to be ruled out.
Leopard 2 – what is this tank?
The Leopard 2 is one of the most modern tanks used by the Polish army and is de facto the basic tank of the Polish Army.
According to official data provided by WP Leopard 2A5 is a battle tank designed for day and night operations. The main task of the machine is to fight armored targets with a 120 mm cannon. The tank can also engage lighter ground and air targets with its integrated machine guns.
The weight of the Leopard 2 tank in the 2A5 version is 59.9 tons. The length of the hull is 7.72 meters, the width is 3.7 meters, and the height to the tower ceiling is 2.5 meters.
Leopard 2 – what can a tank do?
Despite the numerous changes and modernization of the Leopard 2 combat platform, a few things have remained common from the very beginning. The basic armament of all machines is a smoothbore cannon Rheinmetall Rh-120. It is supported by two machine guns MG3. The tank requires a crew of four.
The heart of all tanks in this family is the MTU MB 873 Ka 501 12-cylinder diesel engine. The capacity of the turbocharged engine is 47.6 liters and the tank holds 1200 liters of diesel fuel.
How long does the Leopard 2 tank burn? On a full tank, it can travel 500 km on the road or 300 km off-road. This gives us an average fuel consumption of 240 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers on the road.
Leopard 2 versions – what’s the difference between 2A4, 2A5 and 2A7?
As we mentioned earlier, the Leopard 2 is getting old and has had a few upgrades and improvements. The most popular division is the division of the family of combat machines into three varieties:
- Leopard 2 tanks up to the 2A4 model;
- Leopard 2 tanks from model 2A5;
- Leopard 2 tanks in 2A6, 2A7, 2PL models.
The biggest design changes of the machine took place from the 2A4 model to the 2A5. Previously, the vehicle was slightly lighter (combat weight 55.15 t vs 59.90 t), which made it slightly faster on paved roads (72 km/h vs 68 km/h).
For extra weight 2A5 corresponds to the new sloped frontal armor of the tank turret and revised hull armor, including side panels by the tracks. The interior was also equipped with spall mats to protect the crew in the event of a shell hit.
This model has also gained independent thermal imaging systems for the commander and gunner, improved rangefinders and sighting systems, and a rear observation camera. Many hydraulic systems have also been abandoned in favor of their electric counterparts.
In models starting from 2A6, new turret and hull armor were also introduced. These include a new auxiliary engine, a mine shield for the underside of the tank, and air conditioning for the crew compartment.
One of the latest versions – 2A7+ – and is additionally characterized by a remotely controlled shooting station, third generation thermal imaging devices and uses a battlefield management system. leopards 2A7A1 and in the near future they will be equipped with active protection systems against missiles and mines Trophy HV.
Leopard 2PL – modernization of the tank for Poland
Model Leopard 2PL deserves a separate mention. This is a specially designated modernization of 128 Polish Leopard 2s from the relatively old 2A4 version to the latest standards.
The joint project of the Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and the German company Rheinmetall assumes i.a. upgrading the armor to a version exceeding the parameters of the 2A5 models, adding additional external armor modules around the turret and introducing anti-spall mats. The turret control system was also changed from hydraulic to electric.
The Rh-120 cannon was adapted to fire new types of shells, e.g. DM63 and DM11. A new on-board computer with a fire control system and an electronic gun trigger was also introduced.
The equipment was modernized with Polish third-generation thermal imaging cameras – KLW-1 Asteria. The observation system was also enriched with a native rear-view camera for the driver, and the tank commander’s control block was modernized. In addition, the fire extinguishing system was improved and the transport basket system was improved.
How many Leopards does Poland have?
Poland currently has exactly 249 Leopard 2 tanks. However, the Polish Army has different versions of the machine – we have 142 Leopard 2A4 tanks, 105 Leopard 2A5 tanks and two Leopard 2ANJ units.
However, as we mentioned, tanks with the designation 2A4 will soon be changed to 2PL. The Leopard 2 modernization contract was signed in 2015, initially for 128 tanks, but eventually for all 142 machines owned by the Polish Armed Forces.
The Polish Army received the first pre-series models of the Leopard 2PL on May 28, 2020. The contract assumes the receipt of all vehicles by July 2023. The cost of the modernization program ultimately amounted to PLN 3.29 billion.
Where did Poland get the Leopard 2?
Poland took over the first Leopard 2A4 tanks from surpluses of the Bundeswehr in 2002-2003. They were given to us for a symbolic EUR 1, although Poland also incurred the costs of refurbishing vehicles lying in warehouses for many years. Tanks left the production line in the 80s.
The next Leopard 2 purchase was in 2013. At that time, the Ministry of National Defense purchased 14 more 2A4 tanks and 105 2A5 tanks from the surplus of the Bundeswehr. The last piece of equipment went to the garrison in Żagań on November 30, 2015.
How much does the Leopard 2 tank cost?
The unit price of the Leopard 2 tank is not easy to determine. In 2007, the price of the Leopard 2A6 was estimated at $5.74 million. The price of the newer 2A7+ unit is EUR 13-15 million. It is even harder to determine the unit price of the old 2A4 tank changed to 2PL. However, the cost of modernization alone is PLN 23.2 million per unit.