Armoured Vehicles - NATO/ISAF - Southern Afghanistan –
Punching at Panjwaii – Canadian Leopard Tanks in Combat
CF Tracked Vehicles Tackle the Taliban and Afghan Winters
Stephen Priestley , CASR Researcher / Illustrator
In to Action – Canadian Leopard C2 tanks and the TLAV M113A3s in Combat
After a month of settling in and training, the Leopard C2
tanks of B Squadron of Lord Strathcona's Horse (RC) are on the move. On 03 Dec 2006 (Afghan time) the
tanks rolled out of the Kandahar Airfield compound heading for Panjwaii District. The Leopards form a
new direct fire unit capable of punching through the thick, mud-brick walls (left) that typify much
of Panjwaii District and caused Canadian troops problems during Operation Medusa.
Images from Kandahar reveal details about the deployed Leopard C2s. As
many as ten tanks are visible (right) all fitted with MEXAS armour kits – more than previously said to
exist – and at least one Leopard each is fitted with a dozer blade (right, front vehicle) or
with a mine rack (topmost image, front vehicle).
The Leopard C2s aren't the only tracked armour in southern Afghanistan. The first Leo airlift
included a Taurus Armour- ed Recovery Vehicle (ARV).
There are also at least two AEV (Armoured Engineering
Vehicle) Badgers joining the fight in Panjwaii (left). Both these specialist vehicles are based on a
Leopard chassis. Light tracked vehicles also accompany the heavy armour. It had been announced that 40
rebuilt TLAVs would go to Kandahar in 2007. It seems some arrived early.
Images of M113A3s in Afghanistan have been of poor quality so far.  The TLAV's rooftop remote-control
armament has been covered – until revealed, we must assume that PWS (Protected Weapons Stations)
have been mounted. M113A3s will act as infantry section carriers. The arrival of tracked LAVs is well-timed –
winter rains are turning the Afghan dust into mud.
The tracked vehicles address some of the mobility limitations that were encountered with LAV IIIs during Operation Medusa  which will be worsened
by the winter conditions. More important is the Leo's greater firepower – within a day of arriving
at Foward Operating Base Ma'sum Ghar, the Leopard's 105s were returning fire on
Taliban rocket launcher positions.
Journalists contrast upgraded Leopard fire control, sights, and protection with the cruder systems of
the Soviet tanks defeated by Afghan Mujahideen in the '80s. Quite true but parallels can be drawn
with Northern Alliance tanks (left) in 2001 – T-55s used as mobile, direct-fire artillery. A Leopard
firing from its FOB revetment is simply more sophisticated kit doing the same job.
The CF sees other roles for the Leopards in Afghanistan (among them protecting convoys from attack) but, in
Part 2, we will focus on mouseholing mud-brick
 'Life-extended' TLAV (M113A3 and long-wheelbased MTVL) emphasized new
armament arrangements – either RWS (Remote Weapon Systems) or 'One Metre' turrets (recycled
from AVGP Grizzly section carriers). The former is probably the Rafael PWS as planned but may
also be the Kongsberg M151 RWS (as on APVs).
Another M113 type in theatre is the remote mine-clearing ILDS Protection Vehicle.
 LAV IIIs had difficulties with Panjwaii mud-brick compounds and its irrigation ditches. Tracked M113A3s
will cope better with the latter but not with the former.