Main armament 1 x 120 mm Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun 42 rounds
1,500 PS (1,479 hp, 1,103 kW) at 2600 rpm
The Leopard 2 is a main battle tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the early 1970s for the West German Army. The tank first entered service in 1979 and succeeded the earlier Leopard 1 as the main battle tank of the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. More than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been manufactured. The Leopard 2 first saw combat in Kosovo with the German Army and has also seen action in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian ISAF forces.
There are two main development batches of the tank, the original models up to Leopard 2A4 which have vertically-faced turret armour, and the "improved" batch, namely the Leopard 2A5 and newer versions, which have angled arrow-shaped turret appliqué armour together with a number of other improvements. All models feature digital fire control systems with laser rangefinders, a fully stabilized main gun and coaxial machine gun, and advanced night vision and sighting equipment (first vehicles used a low-light level TV system or LLLTV; thermal imaging was introduced later on). The tank has the ability to engage moving targets while moving over rough terrain.
In October 2003, Canada was planning to replace its Leopard C2s with wheeled Stryker Mobile Gun Systems. However, operational experience in Afghanistan, and in particular during Operation Medusa, convinced the Canadian military of the usefulness of maintaining a tank fleet. Leopard C2s were deployed to Kandahar in December 2006, but they were by then almost 30 years old, and were nearing the end of their operational life. The Canadian government decided to borrow 20 Leopard 2A6s and three armoured recovery vehicles from Germany for rapid deployment to Afghanistan. In late August 2007, the first Leopard 2s were airlifted into Afghanistan to equip Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). In an assault on November 2, 2007, a Leopard 2A6M hit an IED and survived without casualties: “My crew stumbled upon an IED (improvised explosive device) and made history as the first (crew) to test the (Leopard 2A6) M-packet. It worked as it should.” wrote a Canadian officer in an email to German defence officials.
The Canadian Forces acquired 100 Leopard 2A4 tanks from the Netherlands in 2007. Twenty Leopard 2A6M are being borrowed from Germany from mid-2007 to support the Canadian deployment in Afghanistan, with the first tank handed over after upgrading by KMW on August 2, 2007, and arriving in Afghanistan on August 16, 2007. Two Bergepanzer 3 Büffel have already been purchased (loaned?) from the German Bundeswehr for use with the Canadian deployment in Afghanistan. An additional fifteen Leopard 2A4 tanks are being purchased from Germany for spare parts. An additional 12 surplus Pz 87 were purchased from Switzerland in 2011 for conversion to protected special vehicles. Canadian Army will be able to deploy 40 combat tanks (20 2A4M CAN and 20 2A6M CAN) with 42 2A4s for training, all supported by 13 to 18 AEVs, 12 ARVs and 15 Logistic Support Vehicles.