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Leo 2A6M

DND 101

Background  —  Canadian Forces Upgraded Leopard 2A4M Tanks

The CF's recently-deployed Leopard 2A4M CAN [1] is a distinct variant. We will outline the major differences between the in-service Leopard 2A4M CAN on loan from Germany and the refurbished, ex-Dutch Leopard 2A4 variant. At a glance, it is easy to distinguish the longer gun barrel of  the Leopard 2A6M (compared) with the original main gun of the Leopard 2A4 (left). Changes in the shape of turret armour and a reduction in 'slat armour' protected areas are also apparent. Less obvious are running gear changes aimed at improved off-road performance at higher weights.[2]

The composite armour for the Leopard 2A4M CAN resembles that of  the Krauss Maffei Wegmann 'Leopard 2A7+' concept tank, a demonstrator for which KMW claims "unmatched IED and mine protection". The key difference in armour is the gun mantle and turret nose – adapted to the original Leopard 2A4 EMES-15 gun sight position. This results in a noticable 'notch' in the Leopard 2A4M CAN's starboard turret-front armour (as that EMES-15 was raised to roof level on Leopard 2A5/2A6s).

Although the Leopard 2A4M CAN's up-armour set  looks very similar to IBD Diesenroth's  Leopard  2A4  Evolution AMAP, the Leo 2A4M's armour panels were designed  by KMW specifically for DND. So, small wonder that the hull add-on armour resembles that of  their 'Leopard 2A7+'. [3] Differences are most apparent on the bow armour. Where the demonstrator has thicker bow and glacis, the Leopard 2A4M CAN  retains the shape of  its origins. However, on the lower bow, a  2A6M-style  belly plate is seen. In short, the new Leopard 2A4M CAN features the latest in hull-protection with turret  'add-on'  armour scaled more to deal with roadside IEDs than opposing tanks. Considering the CF's only recent combat deployment with Leopard tanks, that seems a sensible compromise. [4]

The decision to retain the older Rheinmetall L/44 gun may have been forced on DND but it, too, is a good compromise. The Rheinmetall  L/55 has a performance gain at extreme ranges but that gun also extends the overall length of a Leopard  by 1.3m. Not much but the difference can be critical when trying to rotate the turret in narrow streets or other built-up areas. Although little detailed information has been released about the new Leopard 2A4M CAN, this variant appears to be a capable tank well protected for modern, assymetrical warfare.

[1] Different sources present Leopard designations in various forms  ( the Army News announcement for the new Leopard  uses both the German-style Leopard 2 A4M CAN and Leopard 2A4M CAN). We have chosen to standarize on the more compact Leopard 2A4M CAN.
[2] The Army News announcement also lists improved "service brakes" although it's not clear what is meant. Other improvements include communications and other electronics, driver vision systems, crew cooling vests, and the now ubiquitous Barracuda MSC thermal mats.
[3] In the original version of this page, it was implied that the Leopard 2A4M CAN armour set was derived from that of  IBD Diesenroth's Leopard 2A4 Evolution. Only a comparison was intended. Leopard 2A4M CAN armour is entirely the work of Krauss Maffei Wegmann.
[4] The CF had briefly deployed up-armoured Leopard C1s to the Balkans.  These vehicles,  like the Leopard C2s later sent to Kandahar, had IBD MEXAS armour panels applied to hull and turret.  The CF were a fairly early adopter of composite add-on armour kits for tanks.