Leopard 2

Manufacturer: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co.KG - KMW  
Product type: Armoured Vehicles  
Name: Main battle tank  


In 1970, Germany took the decision to proceed with a new tank called the Leopard 2 and 16 hulls and 17 turrets were integrated by Krauss-Maffei (which on the 1st January 1999 bacame Krauss-Maffei Wegmann with facilities in Munich and Kassel) between 1972 and 1974. All of the prototypes used the Renk transmission and MTU diesel from the MBT-70.

Ten of the prototypes were equipped with a Rheinmetall 105 mm smoothbore gun and the remainder were fitted with a Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun. Two of the chassis were fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension but the advanced torsion bar suspension with integrated friction dampers was subsequently adopted.

Various types of fire-control systems were fitted in the prototype vehicles and one even had a remote-controlled 20 mm anti-aircraft cannon mounted on the turret roof.

In 1974, the USA and Germany signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which both countries affirmed their intention to make all reasonable efforts to standardise their tank programmes. In 1977, the MoU was amended to include efforts to standardise some tank components between the two countries. These included engine, transmission, gunner's telescope, night vision equipment, fire-control system, tracks and main armament.

To meet the requirements of the USA, Germany built another model called the Leopard 2(AV) (Austere Version). It had a different fire-control system and a turret and hull which incorporated a spaced multilayer armour, as well as many other detail improvements influenced by the conflict in the Middle East in 1973. Two Leopard 2(AV) hulls and three turrets were built. One complete Leopard 2(AV) tank and one chassis were delivered to the USA for trials in September 1976 but, as expected, the USA chose one of the two competing American designs, the Chrysler XM1. The USA did, however, adopt the Rheinmetall 120 mm smoothbore gun under the designation M256.

In 1977, the German Army selected Krauss-Maffei as prime contractor for series production of the Leopard 2 and placed an order, with options, for 1,800 MBTs, 990 of which were to be built by Krauss-Maffei and the remaining 810 by MaK.

The first preproduction Leopard 2 MBT was delivered to the German Army late in 1978 for training. Krauss-Maffei and MaK delivered three preproduction Leopard 2 MBTs in early 1979. The first production Leopard 2 was handed over by Krauss-Maffei in October 1979 in Munich. Six tanks were delivered in 1979,100 in 1980, 220 in 1981 and by 1982 production was running at 300 a year (25 a month). In 1982 it was announced that the cost of the Leopard 2 programme forthe German Army was DM5,100 million, with the first production lots being for 380, 450 and 300 tanks. The last two production lots comprised 300 and 370 tanks.

In June 1987, an order for the sixth production batch of 150 Leopard 2s was placed by the German government. Of these, 55 per cent were built by Krauss-Maffei with the remaining 45 per cent by MaK. In 1988, the contract was placed for the seventh production batch of 100 Leopard 2s, with the contract for the eighth production batch of 75 vehicles being placed in 1990. Final deliveries of the Leopard 2 to the German Army were made in 1992.

There was a total of eight production lots of Leopard 2 MBTs for the German Army and details of these are listed here.

1st production lot

Has circular protection ring over critical blocks at the tank commander's station amd small circular plate cover on the turret roof covering the base of the former crosswind velocity sensor, which is no longer installed As originally built they also had the interim PZB 200 image intensification night sight which was subsequently replaced by an integral thermal sight which was fitted as standard from the second production lot onwards.

1st to 4th production lot

Has circular ammunition resupply hatch in left side of the turret, this was subsequently welded over.

2nd production lot

In addition to elimination of the crosswind velocity sensor this lot had relocation of the tank filler openings, improved exhaust gratings and modified tool stowage.

5th production lot

From this production lot the ammunition resupply hatch in the left side of the turret was deleted, a new three colour paint scheme was incorporated, there was a digital core for the fire-control computer (also retrofitted to lots 1 to 4) and installation of a fire suppression system.

6th production lot

Similar to the 5th production lot.

7th production lot

From this production lot reshaped forward sections of the side skirts were produced.

8th production lot

In addition to the above new side skirts were fitted.

Netherlands Leopard 2 programme

In March 1979, the Netherlands placed an order for 445 Leopard 2s for delivery from 1982 to 1986, Krauss-Maffei built 278 and MaK the remaining 167. Netherlands industry participated in the production of parts and components at approximately 60 per cent of the value of the order. In addition, Netherlands industry was provided with new export possibilities for products not directly concerned with the Leopard 2 contract.

The first four Leopard 2 MBTs for the Royal Netherlands Army were completed in mid-1981. Main contract deliveries began in July 1982 and by November that year 10 vehicles a month were being delivered, with final deliveries taking place in July 1986. They have different 7.62 mm machine guns (FN MAG in place of Rheinmetall MG3s), smoke dischargers, passive night periscope for the driver, radios and intercom equipment from the German version.

In 1983, the Royal Netherlands Army's 41st Armoured Brigade, stationed in Germany, became the first in the RNLA to be equipped with the Leopard 2. The RNLA also ordered 20 driver-training versions of the Leopard 2 MBT.

In January 1993, the Royal Netherlands Army stated that it would be phasing out 115 of its 445 Leopard 2. Early in 1999 it was announced that an additional 130 Leopard 2A4s would be phased out of service and sold.

A total of 180 Royal Netherlands Army Leopard 2 MBTs are being upgraded to the Leopard 2A5 standard and in the future these will be fitted with the new 120mm/L55 gun developed by Rheinmetall. New 120 mm ammunition will be purchased and a Battlefield Management System fitted.

The Austrian Army has taken delivery of 114 Leopard 2A4 MBTs from the Royal Netherlands Army.

Spanish Leopard 2 programme

In mid-1995, it was announced that Spain was to manufacture under licence 219 Leopard 2A5 MBTs for the Spanish Army. This contract was finally signed in December 1998 and also included 16 Buffel armoured recovery vehicles.

Spain has already taken delivery of one Leopard 2 MBT from the German Army for training purposes and as an interim measure Spain has leased 108 Leopard 2s from the German Army for five years. These were delivered between November 1995 and June 1996.

Additional details of the Spanish programme are given in the entry for Spanish MBT Fleet under Spain.

Swedish Leopard 2 programme

Following a competition between the Krauss-Maffei Leopard 2A5, Giat Industries Leclerc and General Dynamics Land Systems M1A2 for a new MBT to replace Sweden's current Centurions and S-tanks, the Leopard 2A5 was selected early in 1994. Additional details are given under Sweden.

Swiss Leopard 2 programme

In August 1983, the Swiss Army announced that after evaluating the Leopard 2 and M1 MBTs, the Leopard 2 had been selected. A total of 380 was ordered in one lot, the first 35 coming direct from Krauss-Maffei in Germany and the remainder being produced under licence in Switzerland. The first 35 were delivered in 1987 and used for training. The first battalion was fully operational with Leopard 2 MBTs in January 1988.

Prime contractor for the licence production in Switzerland was Contraves with final assembly taking place at the Federal Construction Works (now known as Swiss Ordnance Enterprise) at Thun, where the Pz Swiss Leopard 2 programme

In August 1983, the Swiss Army announced that after evaluating the Leopard 2 and M1 MBTs, the Leopard 2 had been selected. A total of 380 was ordered in one lot, the first 35 coming direct from Krauss-Maffei in Germany and the remainder being produced under licence in Switzerland. The first 35 were delivered in 1987 and used for training. The first battalion was fully operational with Leopard 2 MBTs in January 1988.

Prime contractor for the licence production in Switzerland was Contraves with final assembly taking place at the Federal Construction Works (now known as Swiss Ordnance Enterprise) at Thun, where the Pz

61 and Pz 68 MBTs were built. Production of the Leopard 2 in Switzerland started in 1987, with the first Swiss-built vehicles delivered in December 1987 and production running at six per month through to March 1993. The Swiss Leopard 2 is similar to the German vehicles but with Swiss radios and intercoms and Swiss coaxial and anti-aircraft machine guns. Switzerland has also decided to install the British Kidde-Graviner Crew Bay fire and explosion suppression system as did the German Army for the fifth production batch of Leopard 2 MBTs, beginning late in 1985.


The hull of the Leopard 2 has a spaced multilayer armour and is divided into three compartments: driver at the front, fighting in the centre and engine at the rear.

The driver is seated at the front of the hull on the right side and is provided with a single-piece hatch coverthat opens to the right and three observation periscopes. The centre periscope can be replaced by a passive night periscope. Some of the ammunition supply is stowed to the left of the driver.

The turret is in the centre of the vehicle with the commander and gunner on the right and the loader on the left. The commander is provided with a circular hatch cover that opens to the rear and periscopes for all-round observation. A PERI-R17 primary stabilised panoramic periscope with magnification of x2 and x8 is mounted in front of the commander's hatch and can be traversed through 360, enabling the commander to observe the terrain and lay the main armament.

The gunner has a dual-magnification stabilised EMES-15 sight with integrated laser range-finder and thermal image unit (WBG) which are linked to the fire-control computer. He also has an auxiliary sighting telescope FERO-Z18 with a magnification of x8. The tank commander uses the thermal sight, which is integrated with the gunner's EMES-15, to observe the battlefield. The picture is transmitted to the commander's PERI-R17so he can see the same frame as the gunner. Furthermore the commander can control all functions of the fire-control system and the weapon slave system by a computer-controlled testing board called the RPP 1-8.

The EMES-15 is a primary stabilised binocular sighting instrument for the gunner. The mirror head of the periscope is stabilised around two axes; the day path has a magnification of x12 and a 5 field of view.

The laser range-finder has a range of 9,990 m and is accurate to 10 m with measuring distances shown to three digits together with the fire preparation and selected type of ammunition in the lower part of the gunner's sight.

The fire-control computer successively calculates the angle of sight and lateral angular lead for the main armament. The following parameters are taken into account: target distance (from laser range-finder), angle of tilt of the vehicle, direction of motion in regard to the target and ballistic data of ammunition. The data calculated by the fire-control computer are fed into the weapon slave system which guides the weapon to the line of sight of the EMES-15 or PERI-R17. The thermal image unit integrated in the EMES-15 enables the armament to be aimed and fired at night, in bad weather or at camouflaged targets.

The gunner also has a roof-mounted observation periscope. The loader is seated on the left side of the turret and has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and a single observation periscope. An ammunition resupply hatch is provided in the left side of the turret and there is a stowage basket at the turret rear. The first has been eliminated on later production batches. This has been changed with the introduction of the seventh production batch.

The engine compartment at the rear of the hull is separated from the fighting compartment by a fireproof bulkhead. The MTU MB 873 engine is coupled to a Renk HSWL 354 hydrokinetic planetary gear shift with an integral service brake.

The suspension with torsion bars consists each side of seven dual rubber-tyred roadwheels with the idler at the front, the drive sprocket at the rear and four track-support rollers. Advanced friction dampers are provided at the first, second, third, sixth and seventh roadwheel stations. The Diehl end connector tracks have rubber-bushed pins and removable rubber pads, which can be replaced by snow grousers. The rear two-thirds of the top of the tracks are covered by steel-reinforced rubber skirts (those of the 8th production lot use a composite material) which can be folded up to allow access to the suspension for maintenance. The front third of the top of the track is covered by special armoured boxes which can be rotated upwards both for maintenance and to reduce the overall width of the vehicle for rail travel.

Standard equipment on the Leopard 2 includes a collective NBC system, power pack preheating, crew compartment heater, a fire extinguishing system, electric bilge pumps and an escape hatch in the hull floor behind the driver.

The 120 mm smoothbore gun has been developed by Rheinmetall and fires two types of ammunition, APFSDS-T (DM-13) and HEAT-MP-T (DM-12), each of which has a practice version. The APFSDS-T has an effective range of over 2,000 m and the HEAT-MP-T has a high degree of effectiveness against both soft and hard targets. Both fin-stabilised rounds have a semi-combustible cartridge case with a metal base stub which is ejected into a box under the breech.

In 1983, the second-generation APFSDS-T round was introduced under the designation DM-23. This has a new monobloc tungsten penetrator. A third-generation APFSDS-T round is the DM-33. This has a much greater length-to-diameter ratio. This was followed by the DM-44 which was not adopted by the German Army. The latest round is designated the DM-53 which is now entering production for the home and export markets. All of the German 120 mm APFSDS-T projectiles have non-depleated uranium penetrators.

Of the 42 rounds of ammunition carried, 27 are stored to the left of the driver, 15 in the left side of the turret bustle and separated from the fighting compartment by an electrically driven door. If the bustle is hit it will explode upwards due to blow-out panels.

A 7.62 mm Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun is mounted coaxiallytothe left of the main armament and a similar weapon can be mounted on the loader's hatch. Mounted on either side of the turret are eight smoke grenade dischargers.


Leopard 2A6

This is the latest version of the Leopard 2 and details are given in a separate entry.

Leopard 2 with 120 mm/L55 gun

Rheinmetall has developed a 120 mm/L55 smooth bore tank gun which is a direct replacement for the 120 mm/L44 smoothbore tank gun currently fitted to the Leopard 2 MBT used by the German Army.

The new 120 mm/L55 smoothbore gun is fitted with a thermal sleeve, fume extractor and a muzzle reference system.

This 120 mm barrel is 1.30 m longer than the current barrel which leads to a significant increase in muzzle velocity, especially with the latest APFSDS-T rounds which have more propellant and heavier projectiles.

The geometry of the chamber and the pressure limits are defined in the quadrolateral Interface Control Document (ICD) for the 120 mm tank main armament systems.

In accordance with the ICD the Rheinmetall 120 mm L55 has the identical chamber geometry as the current fielded barrel and complies with the pressure limits. This means that all current 120 mm projectiles can be fired with the new 120 mm L55 barrel.

In order to minimise the extent of changes, the interface measures of the 120 mm L55 to the breech and to the cradle are unchanged.

According to Rheinmetall, two further improvements are possible with the 120 mm L55 barrel. First, the breech could be made from the same steel as the barrel and this would lift the pressure load of the gun by 500 bar compared to the current weapon.

Second, the design of the 120 mm L55 barrel permits a higher pressure load over a longer range of the barrel than is known from the fielded barrel. So this new barrel is prepared for future interior ballistics which are expected to show a wider maximum pressure instead of the now usual pressure peak.

Leopard 2 with 140 mm gun

Under contract to the BWB, Rheinmetall has been developing a 140 mm smoothbore gun. This could be fitted into the turret of the current Leopard 2 and would be fed by a bustle-mounted automatic loader which would reduce the turret crew to two.

Leopard 2 AVLB

The German and Royal Netherlands armies have a requirement for a new armoured vehicle launched bridge on the Leopard 2 chassis. Following a competition, MAN won with its modular bridge system. It is expected that Germany will order between 35 and 50 systems with the Netherlands ordering 17 systems.

Biiffel Armoured Recovery Vehicle

In August 1990, MaK announced that it had been selected by the BWB as the main contractor for series production of the Biiffel Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) based on automotive components of the Leopard 2 MBT.

In total 100 Buffel ARVs have been built, 75 for the German Army and 25 for the Royal Netherlands Army, with first production vehicles completed late in 1991. Of the 100 vehicles, 55 were built by MaK and 45 by Krauss-Maffei. Spain has ordered 16 Buffel ARVs.

To carry out its recovery role, the Buffel ARV is fitted with a hydraulic crane which is pivoted at the front of the hull on the right side, winch, dozer/stabilising blade and other specialised equipment.

Leopard 2 driver-training vehicle

The German Army has taken delivery of 22 driver-training versions of the Leopard 2 while the Royal Netherlands Army has taken delivery of 20 vehicles. These are essentially a Leopard 2 with its turret replaced by an observation-type turret and weighted to give the vehicle similar handling characteristics to the standard Leopard 2. Also provided are a dummy 120 mm gun barrel, seats for the instructor, two trainees and override facilities for the instructor.

Other variants

The chassis of the Leopard 2 could also be used to mount the turret of the Gepard anti-aircraft tank.

A Leopard 2 prototype was fitted with the US Textron Lycoming AGT 1500 gas turbine in 1978 for trials purposes by MaK at Kiel.

For trials purposes the MTU 883 V-12 diesel developing 1,475 hp at 3,000 rpm has been installed in a Leopard 2 MBT. This produces the same output as the MTU 873 Ka-501 currently installed in the Leopard 2 but is lighter, more compact and more fuel efficient.

Property Value
Weight (kg)
Length (mm)
Width (mm)
Height (mm)
Track (mm)
Max. road speed (km/h)
Max. road range (km)
Depth of fording, without preparation (mm)
Fording depth (mm)
Gradient (%)
Side slope (%)
Vertical obstacle (mm)
Trench (mm)
Engine power output (h.p.)
Number of forward gears
Number of reverse gears
Main weapon caliber (mm)
AA gun caliber (mm)
Auxiliary gun calibre (mm)
Ammunition of the main gun
Ammunition of AA gun
Elevation (degree)
Depression (degree)
Planes of gun stabilization
Ground pressure (kg/sm2)
Ground clearance (mm)
Length of track on ground (mm)
Track link width (mm)
Traverse arc (degree)
Fuel capacity (l)
Number of smoke grenade launchers

Has folowing part:
Total Amount
? (Projectile)
Crew Bay (Fire fighting equipment)
HSWL 295 (Transmission)
HSWL 354 (Transmission)
M1080A1 (Gun)
MB 873 Ka-501 (Power pack)
P-25000 ZF (Final drive)
Rh-M-120 (Gun)
TR60 (Track chain)
Type 570 P (Track chain with rubber-padded shoes)

Leopard 2 quantities:
Country Qnt

Related Articles

Denmark and Germany receive the latest versions of the LEOPARD 2 (07.11.2019)

Rheinmetall to Feature Next Generation 130mm Tank Gun at AUSA Global (04.11.2019)

Multimillion-euro order from Hungary (02.10.2019)

The Dutch armed forces select Rheinmetall to modernize their Bergepanzer 3 Büffel (17.05.2019)

KMW set to modernise 101 German Leopard 2 main battle (22.04.2019)

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann supports the modernization of the Hungarian Army (22.12.2018)

Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering's 8x8 combat vehicle nearing service entry (14.03.2018)

SAAB Receives Order For Upgrade Of German Army Vehicle Simulators (12.01.2018)

Jenoptik Participating in the Modernization of the Leopard 2 Tank for the Bundeswehr (02.01.2018)

SAAB Receives Order From KMW For Mobile Camouflage Systems (19.12.2017)

104 German Leopard 2 MBTs to be modernized (28.09.2017)

Rheinmetall at MSPO 2017 (06.09.2017)

Rheinmetall wins important framework agreement to supply Bundeswehr with ammunition (28.07.2017)

Jenoptik receives follow-up contracts for retrofitting Leopard 2 tanks (22.03.2017)

Rheinmetall at IDEX 2017 (25.02.2017)

Printable Version Send by email rss favorite Facebook Vkontakte Twitter Google+
Leopard 2
Leopard 2
Leopard 2
Leopard 2
Leopard 2
Leopard 2
Leopard 2