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Requirements for The Canadian Leopard 2 Tanks
After an initial assessment of the performance of the Leopard C2 Tank in Afghanistan, Canada decided to invest in Leopard 2 tanks. It was determined that the lack of adequate air conditioning (essential in the searing heat of Afghanistan,) was degrading the tank crew’s war fighting ability. The Army later downplayed this factor, citing increased armour protection and the main gun armament as reasons for upgrading to the Leopard 2 Tank.
Canada selects The Leopard 2 Tank
After some public speculation, Canadian Defence minister Hon. Gordon O’Connor clarified the situation on Thursday, April 12, 2007.
To meet immediate needs in Afghanistan, twenty of the Bundeswehr’s stock of Leopard 2A6’s were upgraded to 2A6M standard and loaned to Canada at no cost by the German government. Two Leopard 2 Büffel Armoured Recovery Vehicles were acquired at the same time. The first tank handed over to the Canadian Military after upgrading by KMW was on August 2, 2007, and the first one arriving in Afghanistan on August 16, 2007, with the last arriving in late September 2007.
The Canadian Leopard 2A6M CAN Tank
The Leopard 2A6M CAN is a Canadian variant of the Leopard 2A6. Significant modifications include the mine protection belly armour added thus giving the tank the “M” designation, distinctive tan coloured boxes mounted on the rear of the turret, contains Canadian Forces designated communications and anti IED( improvised explosive device) jamming gear which includes the “T” antenna stands, and stand-off slat armour.
The front upper hull received an armoured plate by the drivers hatch. The first tanks configured in this variant were the twenty tanks loaned from the German Bundeswehr, in an effort to increase firepower and to increase protection given to Canadian troops operating in the south of Afghanistan.
Another feature of these tanks been fitted with a cooling unit with cooling suits for the crew , and the Saab Barracuda camouflage mats which also serve to reduce solar loading by 50 percent. This system was added to the deployed Leopards in 2009.These Leopards served right up to July 2011.
The Canadian Leopard 2A4M CAN Tank
Canada commissioned KMW to upgrade 20 LEOPARD main battle tanks in July 2009 for deployment in Hindu Kush. The new version, the LEOPARD A4M CAN, is specially designed for operations in Afghanistan. B
Both knowledge from the previously used LEOPARD 2A6M and state-of-the-art technology that was recently qualified by KMW in collaboration with the German army and the Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) flowed into the development. The development, conversion and overhaul of the first vehicles were successfully carried out in less than one year, converting them into modern operational units.
The Leopard 2A4M CAN is the upgraded Canadian version of the Leopard 2A4 acquired from the Royal Netherlands Army as surplus. The Leopard 2A4M CAN is specially designed for the war in Afghanistan based on experience gained by Leopard 2 operators and a lot of first-hand knowledge from crews aided in the development of this new version.
The first 20 were delivered in October 2010 and 5 Leopard 2A4M’s were deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010, and withdrawn from front line service in July 2011.
Though originally planned to be up-gunned to the L55 for consistency with the 2A6M CAN, the longer barreled guns (optimized for tank-vs-tank warfare) were found to be less than ideal in Afghanistan, and therefore it was decided to retain the L44 shorter barrel.
In addition, only small areas of slat armour were added, in contrast with the fully caged 2A6M CANs. The protection of the Leopard 2A4M CAN has been further augmented with the addition of appliqué armour resembling that found on the most recent Leopard 2A7+ variant, but modified to fit the turret configuration of the 2A4.
Other modifications include an all-electric digital turret, a digital central logic/main distribution system, a new commander system control unit, enhanced brakes, an upgraded suspension and driver viewing aids.
Canadian Leopard 2 Support Vehicles
The Canadian Tank Replacement Project has been scheduled over 2 phases, the first being the acquisition of the Leopard 2A6M CAN and Leopard 2A4M CAN to meet immediate needs in Afghanistan.
The second phase is delivering the Canadian Army with Leopard 2 support vehicles, for crew training, armoured recovery and combat engineer work. This has been achieved with the conversion of surplus Leopard 2 Tanks bought from other countries.
On the 14th of December 2007, 80 surplus Leopard 2A4 were bought from The Netherlands. In February 2011, 12 surplus Swiss Pz84’s (Licence built Leopard 2A4) were bought and later that year, 15 surplus Leopard 2A4’s were bough from Germany.
The following number of conversions have been confirmed
The Repair and Overhaul of 42 Leopard 2A4 in to A4 training tanks
The conversion of 13 Leopard 2A4 MBT’s into Combat Engineer Vehicles (plus an optional 5 more conversions)
The conversion of 8 Leopard 2A4 MBT’s into Armoured Recovery Vehicles (plus an optional 4 more conversions)
The stripping down of around 8 A4’s for spare parts which are reconditioned
The Canadian Tank Replacement Project has provided a long-term, sustainable tank force deployable in medium to high threat environments until 2035.
Special thanks to our site Admin Canadian Army SGT (Ret’d) Anthony Sewards for the information contained on this page.