LEOPARD 2 (A1-A4) MBT gallery 3

(Dutch Leopard 2NL image). Despite the 4 tanks delivered in 1981, it would not be until July 1982 when the rest of the order began to be delivered on a regular basis. From November 1982 to July 1986 Leopard 2NL were delivered at a rate of 10 per month. Krauss-Maffei built 278 (Nr. 12001 to 12278) and MaK the remaining 167 (Nr. 22001 to 22167). The 445 Leopard 2NLs were similar to the German Leopard 2A1 from batches 2 and 3. The first Leopard 2NLs entered service with the 41st Armored Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, stationed in Germany, in 1983. These tanks had some differences from the Germans, such a Dutch-designed 6-tube smoke grenade dischargers, Belgian-made FN MAG 7.62mm machine guns, Dutch Philips-made radios, and a Dutch-made night vision periscope for the driver.
(Dutch Leopard 2NL image). The Leopard 2NL were adopting some of the modifications that were appearing in their German colleagues such as the installation of a collimator or the welding of the left side ammunition hatch among others. Along with the combat variant, 20 Leopard 2 Fahrschule were also purchased for driver formation. In 1993 the Dutch Army decided to decommission 115 Leopard 2NL, which were sold to Austria, and modernize the entire remaining fleet to the A5 variant. After the Balkan War, the Netherlands deployed Leopard 2NL tanks in various towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina within IFOR/SFOR missions carried out by NATO between 1995 and 2004.
(Swiss Panzer 87 image). The second country to show interest in acquiring the Leopard 2 was Switzerland. In December 1979, the Swiss Government decided to cancel the NKPz (Neuer Kampfpanzer) program due to the exorbitant cost. Then it was decided by the acquisition or manufacture under license of the M-1 Abrams or the Leopard 2 battle tanks. After evaluating both vehicles from August 1981 to June 1982, in August 1983 the Leopard 2 was announced as the chosen one. In December 1984, the Swiss Government approved the funds for the acquisition.
(Swiss Panzer 87 image). Initially the acquisition of 420 new Leopard 2s was considered to replace the outdated Centurion MBTs and part of the Panzer 61 MBTs. Finally, 380 tanks were contracted which were officially named as Panzer 87 Leopard 2. Between March and June 1987 Krauss-Maffei delivered 35 vehicles (Nr. 13001 to 13035), leaving the remaining 345 to be built under license by Eidgenössische Konstruktionswerkstätte Thun, Switzerland (Workshops Building Federals Thun, KWT). The main contractor for the manufacture of the Panzer 87 Leopard 2 was Contraves (Nr. 13036 to 13380), which in December 1987 began production at a rate of six per month, with the last vehicle being delivered in March 1993.
(Swiss Panzer 87 image). These tanks differ from their German cousins in having the rear part of the turret slightly modified, with a slight slope on the left side and the mounting of a box to store a mimetic net on the right side. Also in the left rear part of the turret a box with an external headphone connection for the crew intercom was installed. The Panzer 87 carries two 7.5mm MG-87 machine guns built by WF Bern and the smoke grenade dischargers are the 76mm Nebelwerfer 87 model also made in Switzerland.
(Swiss Panzer 87 image). Other additional differences are the AN/VCR-12 radios of American origin but manufactured under license in Switzerland, additional vehicle width indicator lights, provision of 28 snow grousers instead of 18 and installation of mufflers on the exhaust pipes. These devices make the Panzer 87 Leopard 2 totally unmistakable with the rest of the Leopard 2A4. In addition, from Nr.13156 the new front sections of the side skirts included in the German Leopard 2A4 of the sixth batch were installed. All Panzer 87s left the factory with the fire and explosion suppression system and were painted with the same three-color camouflage as the German models. In addition, the NBC protection system was of an improved type compared to the one installed in the other Leopard 2s.
(Swiss Panzer 87 image). In 2006 Switzerland decided to modernize 134  Panzer 87 tanks, and chose part of an upgrade package from the Swiss firm RUAG, giving rise to the Panzer 87 WE 2006 variant. Likewise, it was decided to withdraw and store 96 tanks and, in addition, another 42 were sold to the German firm Rheinmetall in 2010 and 12 more to the Canadian Army for their transformation into recovery vehicles (ARV) in 2011. A further 55 tanks were later sold to Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and since 2011 Switzerland has transformed another 34 Panzer 87 into different types of engineering vehicles. In March 2023 Switzerland has agreed to sell 25 of the 96 Panzer 87s held in reserve to Krauss-Maffei Wegman for conversion in Leopard 2A7V tanks and reintegration into the Bundeswehr to replace the tanks transferred to Ukraine.
(German Leopard 2A4 image). The total number of Leopard 2 tanks of the A1 to A4 variants manufactured has been 2,950, not counting the special variants for engineers, bridge launchers and driver formation tanks. Only the tanks used by Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland were new, the rest of the countries that currently are, or have been, users of the Leopard 2 have received vehicles decommissioned by the 3 aforementioned countries.
(Swedish Strv.121 image). In 1984 Sweden began a study within the MBT-2000 program for the modernization of its tank fleet or to acquire a new model for the international market or for its own manufacture. After several years of study, in 1989 the Swedish army rented a Leopard 2 and an M-1A1 Abrams to submit them to various tests, from which it was deduced that the Swedish model Strv.103 (S-tank) would be replaced by a foreign model. However, while the new tank was under development, Sweden signed a contract for the leasing of 160 Leopard 2A4s from the German surplus stock designating them as Stridsvagn 121. All vehicles were delivered between 1994 and 1995 and received a few minor modifications such as radios of Swedish origin, Swedish camouflage paint scheme and updated fire control computer to be able to use Swedish ammunition.
(Swedish Strv.121 image). All Leopard 2 Strv.121 tanks belonged to those manufactured in the first 5 batches and were framed in different Mechanized Brigades of the Swedish Army. They were in service until 2006, when they were withdrawn and kept in reserve until 2011. In 2011, and as part of the contract signed, 140 tanks were returned to Germany and the remaining 20 were purchased to keep some as training vehicles and convert others into Leguan armoured bridgelayer vehicles and AEV-3 Kodiak engineering vehicles.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Spain was the next on the list to incorporate the Leopard 2 into its Army. In the case of Spain, this incorporation fulfilled a desire, maintained for more than 30 years, to have Leopard tanks. Already in 1964, the Spanish Army tried to acquire the Leopard 1, but due to political reasons it could not materialize. Because the 105mm gun of the Leopard 1 was of British origin, they refused to allow Spain, governed by Francisco Franco at the time, to use their weapons, so Spain ended up acquiring the French AMX-30 tank.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Another attempt was made in 1981 with the launch of the “Iberia Program” based on the Leopard 2, but it did not materialize either. Later in 1983 the Lince MBT project was born, which was abandoned in 1989 after the acceptance by Spain of American M-60A3 tanks, deactivated after the agreements signed in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). On June 30, 1994, the “Hispano-German Leopard Working Group” (GTL H/A) was established in Germany for the development and use of defense materials, especially armored vehicles. In November of this same year, a letter of intent was signed between the defense ministers of both countries with the intention of increasing collaboration between the respective industries, modernizing the Spanish tank fleet with Leopard 2 tanks and the German commitment to transfer a number of them to Spanish units for their integration into the CEUR European Army Corps (Eurocorps).
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Subsequently, in June 1995 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed whereby Germany leased a total of 108 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Spain for a period of 5 years. Spain had to pay 10,000 marks per vehicle per year (approximately 5,200 current euros) for a total amount of about 2,725,000 euros. The agreement obligated Spain to keep the vehicles in perfect state of use by carrying out the necessary maintenance.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The leasing contract included the loan of necessary tools and equipment, technical manuals, instruction and maintenance courses for Spanish personnel, and a complete batch of spare parts. A total of 3,333 KE-üb DM-38A1 and 1,667 MZ-üb DM-18 training rounds were transferred. In addition, the sale of combat rounds DM-23 and DM-12A1 was approved.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The contract stipulated the delivery of the Leopard 2A4 by complete units, that is, in companies of 13 tanks, with an interval of 1 month between deliveries. The tanks would arrive fully operational, with communications, a tool kit, manuals and accessories, and would be selected by Spanish officers in Lüneburg and Braunschweig, headquarters of Panzerbrigade 8 and Panzerbataillon 24 respectively.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Finally, in November 1995, the first shipment of the long-awaited Leopard 2A4 tanks arrived in Spain. Thirteen of them were transported on the LST ship L-41 Hernan Cortés from the port of Wilhemshaven to the Rota Naval Base in Cadiz. From here, the vehicles were transported by road to the Cerro Muriano Military Base in Cordoba, where they were attached to the “Cordoba 10” Mechanized Infantry Regiment belonging to the 10th “Guzman el Bueno” Mechanized Infantry Brigade.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The Spanish Leopard 2A4s continued to arrive regularly until all deliveries were completed on June 29, 1996. The 108 tanks were originally distributed as follows: 44 in the RIMZ “Cordoba 10”, 45 in the RIMZ “Castilla 16”, 8 in the Infantry Academy, 4 at the Cavalry Academy, 1 at the Armored Systems Maintenance Center (CMSA) nº 1, 1 at the Polytechnic Institute of the Army (IPE) nº1, 1 at IPE nº2 and 4 at the School of Land Army Logistics (ELET).
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). The arrival of the Leopard 2A4 in Spain meant an enormous enhancement of the combat capabilities of the Army. For the first time there was a modern battle tank, well protected and with firepower capable of facing any other tank with a real chance of victory. In addition, these vehicles served as a learning medium and allowed us to adapt and improve employment tactics before the arrival of the future Leopard 2A6E (Leopard 2E). The Leopard 2A4s were the backbone of the armored units of the Spanish Army until 2008, when the deliveries of the Leopard 2E to the units were completed.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). Although the initial leasing contract was for 5 years, in 1998 the number of new Leopard 2E tanks contracted by Spain was reduced, but instead it was decided to buy the 108 Leopard 2A4 for a price of 16.9 million euros. The Leopard 2A4 would be paid between 2005 and 2016, being able to discount the amounts already paid as leasing, but finally in 2006 the sale to Spain of the 108 vehicles was agreed for just over 15 million euros.
(Spanish Leopard 2A4 image). In 2008, it was decided to withdraw 53 Leopard 2A4 tanks to transform them into bridgelayer vehicles and engineer vehicles, but due to the financial crisis of 2011 the project was cancelled, leaving all the vehicles stored and used for spare parts. Currently, it seems that there are 54 Leopard 2A4s in active service divided into two Armored Cavalry Regiments (RCAC) based in Ceuta (RCAC 3 Montesa) and Melilla (RCAC 10 Alcántara).
(Austrian Leopard 2A4 image). In 1996, Austria acquired 114 Leopard 2A4s retired by the Netherlands. The number of active Austrian tanks has been reduced to currently 48, belonging to Panzer Battalion 14 based in Wels. All Austrian Leopard A4s are undergoing modernization by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW). This program involves modernizing the tanks to the A7 variant, it will end in 2030 and it will cost 191 million euros.
(Danish Leopard 2A4 image). In 1998, Denmark joined the “Leopard 2 Club” acquiring 51 Leopard 2A4s from German surplus to replace their Leopard 1s. These vehicles belonged to those manufactured between 1980 and 1986, and the cost of the operation was 780 million Danish KR (104.5 million euros). All of them were modernized to the A5 variant between 2004 and 2006.
(Norwegian Leopard 2A4NO image). In 2001 the Norwegian Government signed a contract for the acquisition of 52 Leopard 2A4s from the Dutch surplus. These tanks have received minor modifications such as new radios and a Battlefield Management System that improves combat effectiveness. Despite the fact that the study for the modernization of 30 Leopard 2A4NO began in 2018, the project was finally rejected and the purchase of 54 new Leopard 2A7 tanks has recently been approved with an option for another 18.
(Polish Leopard 2A4 image). In 2002 Poland signed a contract for the acquisition of 128 Leopard 2A4 with which to reinforce its fleet of T-72M1 and PT-91 tanks and gradually replace the older ones. These tanks arrived from Germany in 2003, and an additional 14 Leopard 2A4s were purchased to Germany in 2014, bringing the total fleet to 142.

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