Canada in Afghanistan – NATO – Armour in Southern
Afghanistan – August 2007
The First of Twenty Loaned Leopard 2A6M CAN Arrive
A Glimpse of the CF's Future (With a Little Help From Our Friends)
Stephen Priestley, Researcher, Canadian American
Strategic Review (CASR)
As was widely reported, the very first "Canadianized" Leopard 2A6M CAN tank arrived at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) on 16 August 2007. There were
a few surprises and a few hints of what the future holds. It's early days for CF Leopard 2s but here
is what the photos tell us.
The Leopard 2 arriving aboard an An-124 rather than the new CF CC-177 was a surprise. The CC-177 may
have been held in case DART were sent to Peru. Or, because the tank was being shipped from Germany,
perhaps it made sense to take advantage of SALIS, Canada's assured access to Germany-based Antonov
airlifters through NATO. That An-124s could deliver such heavy equipment to KAF was not a surprise despite
earlier statements by DND to the contrary. 
When the Leopard 2A6M CAN was first publicly unveiled, a new feature was extensive anti-RPG slat armour
'cages'.  Oddly, there was no sign of that slat armour on the Leopard 2 arriving at KAF. The mounts
for the new armour were in place but not the actual armour 'cage'. 
It appears that only a single Leopard 2A6M CAN was delivered to KAF on 16
August. This is rather strange considering the An-124-100's carrying cap- abilities. The An-124 is
credited with a range of 5210 km with a 120t payload. The Leopard 2A6M weighs about 60t, the distance from the
SALIS base (Leizig- Halle) to KAF is about 4850 km. So, a minor mystery is why two tanks
were not sent on that one flight. In any case, as the former MND said, even with CC-177s, the CF will need to
First the Big Move, Then the Small – Life-Extensions for the Loaned
Once the first Leopard 2A6M was on the ground in
Kandahar, it still had to be moved to the tank park with a minimum of wear and tear on tracks.
Alas, the CF has no tank transport trailers. Twelve AHSVS tractor / trailer combos are on order but they won't arrive
in Kandahar until Fall of 2007.
In the meantime, the CF was able to borrow a Dutch XF95 Tropco , a low-loader normally
used to transport the Dutch PzH2000 NL self- propelled howitzers and out-sized engineering equipment (at
right) around Uruzgan province.
The XF95 Tropco combo is what the Koninklijke Landmacht use to move Leopard 2s
around the Netherlands. As can be seen, the Leopard 2A6M is near the limits of
the Tropco trailer. That weight may be one reason that the CF loaner tank has yet to be
fitted with a slat armour cage. Another one may be the resulting overall width. 
One revelation from media reports was that the Leopard 2A6Ms will not have air conditioners. These tanks are
on loan and only very minimal changes can be made. Distinctive black boxes on the turret bustle (left) raised
hopes that air- con had been added. (The 'boxes' likely house CF-dictated communications gear
– they line up with the new antennae stands.) The Leopard 2A6M crews will wear cooling vests
instead but, at least, the turrets are cooler to begin with. 
These loaned German Leopard 2A6Ms give us clues about how fully "Canadianized"
Leopard 2s now on order might appear while also revealling some of the challenges in deploying these
60 tonne vehicles. We are also made aware of the debts incurred with allies to bring these tanks into action:
NATO for its interim airlift arrangement, Germany for loaning the vehicles
( lease fees have been waived ), and the
Netherlands for in-theatre transport. In the future, the Leopard 2s will belong to the Canadian Forces and
they will be transported by CF Actros heavy trucks. How these vehicles arrive in-theatre is less important.
Either leased airlifters or CF CC-177s.
 The Dutch have An-124s to transport helicopters directly into KAF – AS.532 Cougars
in several lifts during April 2006, plus Apaches and Chinooks in Februrary and April
 Slat armour (or 'bar armour') is most often associated with light armoured vehicles (it has begun to
appear on TLAVs in Afghanistan). The 'cage' must be seen as extra insurance for the less well-protected
sides and rear of the Leopard 2s. A major role for CF tanks in-theatre has been breaching mud brick walls
– hard to do with slat armour sticking out to the sides.
 Although not visible in images, it is possible that the 'cage' sections were in the An-124.
 If the slat armour section were on board, the extra weight would explain it. Denmark, like the CF, plans to
fly Leopard 2s directly to KAF. Each
Kandahar-bound An-124 would carry one Danish tank (in contrast with two Leopard C2s per An-124
from Edmonton to Manas).
 The current Dutch Tropco
(Trekker-Oplegger-Combinatie or tractor/semi-trailer combo) consists of the 6x6 DAF XF95 tractor with armour cab and Broshuis low-loader semi-trailer.
 The Tropco trailer's width is pretty much the same as the Leopard 2A6M's
track width. In theory, the Tropco can handle 70 tonnes. The Leopard 2A6 combat weight is
 The Leopard 2A6M turret drive is electric only, while current-serving CF Leopard
C2s also have heat-generating hydraulic pumps (which the loader straddles) driving their turret.
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