Canada in Afghanistan – NATO – Allied Armour in Southern
Afghanistan – May 2007
Leopard-kampvogne til Afghanistan?: a Little
Help from our Friends
The Danish Army is Prepared to Deploy Tanks to Helmand Province
Stephen Priestley, Researcher, Canadian American
Strategic Review (CASR)
Update: 27 Oct. 2007. Danish Leopard 2 A5s have begun
arriving in Afghanistan. The following is from Forsvaret
The first Leopard 2 A5 tanks have now arrived in Afghan- istan. Four Leopard 2 A5s are to reinforce
Danish soldiers in Helmand. Yesterday, the first tank arrived at [Kandahar]. "It's all gone as planned.
The tanks landed at the correct time and the correct place", said Lt-Col Hans Henrik Møller of the
International Operations department. "The tanks have to go from [Kandahar] out to Helmand.
Here the tanks are to support the attempt to push the Taliban out the area. Until that happens, it
isn't possible to rebuild these areas. The transport of the 62 tonne tanks (combat weight) was performed by Russian
built Antonov [An-124] tranport aircraft. Only one Leopard tank can be flown at a time. The four
Leopard tanks will operated by 24 soldiers. Training is being finished and the soldiers oriented to
their new surroundings", said Møller.
Not mentioned in the Forsvaret press release is that
the 4 Leopard tanks will be joined by a single Leopard 1 Armoured Recovery Vehicle (from the same family
as the CF's Taurus).
On 05 February 2007, an Antonov An-124 arrived at Karup, Denmark to allow the Danish Air Force's
Combat Support Wing to test-load Leopard 2A5 tanks for air transport. This was to determine whether
Danish tanks could reasonably be deployed as part of the so-called Quick Reaction Force. The experiment was a
success and the Danish Army announced that the tanks were "ready for insertion" to either southern Afghanistan
or Iraq and waited on a government decision.
Prior to the An-124 tests,  the I. Panserbataljonen of the Jydske Dragonregiment had
created a reserve of four tanks for possible deployment to a 'hot spot'. Five Leopard 2 A5
DKs were re-sprayed in a "desert camouflage" pattern. Previously, Leopards had been sent to
Spain for hot climate/sandy environment tests and obviously the lessons learned are being applied.
The Leopard 2 A5 DKs tested in Spain wore sand and grey camouflage and Barracuda camouflage
mats which serve to reduce absorption of solar heat (the goal is to reduce thermal signature but a lowered
interior temperature is a side benefit). As can be seen (left), the wash-off sand paint has given way to a dramatic
scheme of reddish brown and dark green over a pale sandy-grey base on the five 'reserve'
Leopard 2 A5s.
Checking the Cat's Pedigree – Danish Leopard 2 A5 DKs Prove to
be a Breed Apart
The Leopard 2 A5 DK is a bit of a hybrid. Denmark bought Leopard 2 A4s from Germany beginning in 1988.
By the time the last 'A4 was delivered in 2000, contracts were in place to uparmour the 51
tanks to Leopard 2 A5 levels but with local improvements (mostly aimed at ergonomics, lower
interior heat, and protection for fuel tanks.
Leopard 2 A5 DKs had been ordered from the outset with the lessons of the Gulf War in mind. Their turret
drives and gun stabilization are entirely electric, thus avoiding the heat build-up from the hydraulic pumps in
the Canadian Leopard C2s. An electrical generator provides power for the turret systems – as well as an
air-conditioning system. The 2 A5 DKs also have an auxiliary power unit (APU) for running "engine
In choosing a '2 A5 upgrade rather than going to the latest '2 A6 standard, the Danes
decided to forgo the long L/55 120mm main gun. This will provide Canada with an excellent opportunity.
The Danish experiences with short L/44 guns can be compared with that of the CF's leased Leopard 2 A6Ms with long guns. Should Afghanistan reveal any downsides to that
longer gun, all purchased CF Leopard 2s could keep
the L/44s. 
 Denmark was taking advantage of its membership in the NATO Strategic Airlift Interim
Solution. SALIS provides members (including Canada) with 125 An-124 flying hours / year. The initial
Danish plan was to fly its Leopards directly into Kandahar. Each An-124 would carry a single Danish
tank (in contrast to the two Leopard C2s per
Antonov to Kyrgyztan).
 Many of the changes were based on Danish crew experiences with Leopard 1 A5s in the Balkans. This includes
fuel tanks protected from blasts (although not to 2 A6M standards).
 The L/55 gun is optimized for tank-against-tank engagements. Fire support missions may not require such a high
muzzle velocity although this in itself isn't a disadvantage. An extra 1.3m of barrel length for L/55s
would restrict traverse in built up areas, however. Operational experience will reveal whether this is an issue in
Afghanistan or not. Comparison might also be made with current Danish 120mm tank ammunition which now includes
XM1028 canister (shotgun shell-like rounds filled with 1150 tungsten balls) and Rheinmetall PELE (Penetrator with
Enhanced Lateral Effect ) intended to reduce "collateral damage" during urban combat. Update: Going by the 'Tank Replacement Project' LOI , DND will upgun all CF Leopard 2s.