During the Yemeni Civil War of 2017, Leclerc was used by the United Arabs Emirates army. At least 5 AMX-56 Leclerc tanks were shot down by 9M113 Konkurs missiles and RPG-7 anti-tank guns, the Soviet-made anti-tank weapons since the 1970s.

Leclerc tank review on Dung Tran Military channel

Introduce

For the French, the Leclerc tank is a symbol of the defense industry’s power. On the other hand, it seems to be a luxury item that few countries today can buy for € 6.5 million each, according to the price in 2001. For comparison, Leopard 2A6 costs 5 million euros, Challenger 2 is only 3.72 million euros.

It is not surprising that only wealthy countries like the United Arabs Emirates can afford Leclerc’s expensive price. The United Arabs Emirates is also the only foreign country to own France’s main battle tanks so far.

During the Yemeni Civil War of 2017, Leclerc was used by the United Arabs Emirates army. At least 5 AMX-56 Leclerc tanks were shot down by 9M113 Konkurs missiles and RPG-7 anti-tank guns, the Soviet-made anti-tank weapons since the 1970s.

In one case, the 9M113 Konkurs fired through the front armor of the AMX-56 Leclerc, killing one crew member and wounding another. This shows that Leclerc’s protective armor still has many weaknesses.

During the Cold War, France used two main types of tanks: AMX-13 and AMX-30. The AMX-13 was a light tank with a 75 mm gun while the AMX-30 had a better 105mm gun but it had only 80mm of armor. The armor of the AMX-30 was considered too weak compared to its contemporaries, for comparison, the US M-47 Patton had a protective armor of 243mm.

AMX-56 Leclerc

As early as the 1960s, the French government realized the disadvantages of their tanks when compared to the Soviet and Western ones, the French had planned to replace their tanks. In early 1980, France and West Germany signed a cooperation agreement to jointly develop a main battle tank.

The agreement was quickly canceled due to disagreements over the design work, and the French decided to build their own main battle tank. As a result AMX-56 Leclerc was born, six prototypes were built quickly, mass production was started in 1990.

Until the production line was closed in 2008, there were A total of 794 tanks were produced, the French Army has 406 Leclercs and the United Arab Emirates Army has 388.

Design

The Leclerc tank, was named in honour of the French general whose armored division liberated Paris in 1944. Compared to the current main battle tanks such as the Abrams, the German Leopard 2 and the British Challenger 2, Leclerc is lighter in weight.

The weight of the original Leclerc was only 54.5 tons. The hull and the turret are made of welded steel fitted with modular armour, which can be replaced easily for repair or upgrade over the years.

Due to the introduction of modernised threats, Leclerc was upgraded with new armor packages, including composite armour, titanium insert and on the sides of the turret, ERA blocks. This increased the total weight of the vehicle to 57.4 tons, but still much lighter than similar tanks.

Leclerc has a modern design and relatively small turret configuration, which makes it harder to hit. However, critics argue the smaller turret affords less space for internal upgrades.

Leclerc uses a track system, six road wheels on each side of the hull, managed by a front-mounted track idler and a rear-mounted drive sprocket. The tank uses side skirt armor, provided extra protection for the drivetrain and upper tracks.

AMX-56 Leclerc

The engine is located at the rear of the hull, the suspension is adopted by a hydraulic system that provides the excellent transnational performance necessary for today’s armored fighting vehicles.

The suspensions system is via a hydropneumatic system, with torsion bars coupled with rotary shock absorbers, provides excellent performance for the tank.

Armament

The Leclerc is equipped with a GIAT 120mm smoothbore cannon. This cannon is capable of firing the same NATO standard 120mm rounds as the German Leopard 2 and US M1 Abrams, but in practice only French-produced ammunition is issued. The gun is insulated with a thermal sleeve and has an automatic compressed-air fume extraction system instead of the usual bore evacuator.

The Leclerc has a unique autoloading system which was specifically designed for it, and reduces the crew to three by eliminating the human loader. The crew included commander, gunner and driver.

The Leclerc autoloader allows a rate of fire of 12 shots per minute and holds 22 rounds of ready ammunition; it can accommodate up to six different types of ammunition at once, although like most autoloader systems it cannot change ammunition types once a round has been loaded.

The most common types are the armour piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot with a tungsten core and the high explosive anti-tank round. The gun is 52 calibres long instead of the 44 calibres common on most tanks of its generation, giving the rounds a higher muzzle velocity.

AMX-56 Leclerc

It is claimed that Leclerc MBT can engage 6 targets, located 1.5-2 km away, within one minute with a hit probability in 95%. Gun can be loaded manually both from the inside or outside the MBT.

The Leclerc is also equipped with a 12.7 mm coaxial machine gun and a remote-controlled 7.62 mm machine gun, whereas most other NATO tanks use 7.62 mm weapons for both their coaxial and top machine gun mounts; the major exception is the American M1 Abrams, which has a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and two top-mounted machine guns, one 7.62 mm and one 12.7 mm.

Electronic system

The Leclerc has the GALIX combat vehicle protection system from GIAT, which fires a variety of smoke grenades and infra red screening rounds, as well as anti-personnel grenades. The last 96 MBT XL Leclerc tanks have the ICONE TIS battle management system with digital communication system which integrates data from other tanks and upper levels of command. It automatically reports to command post tank’s location, quantity of ammunition and fuel left.

Since 2009, all the Leclerc tanks in service have ICONE BMS. The digital fire control system can be operated independently by the gunner or the commander, and it offers real time integrated imaging from all of the tank’s sensors and sights, including the gunner’s SAVAN 20 stabilised sight, developed by SAGEM.

Powerplant and Performance

Leclerc main battle tank is powered by French VD V8X-1500 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1500 horsepower. Leclerc can reach a maximum speed of 72 km/h on the road.

With external fuel, the tank has a range of up to 650km. Additional fuel tanks can be fitted at the rear of the hull.

Combat History

In service since 1992, the Leclerc has mostly seen deployment on low-intensity conflicts, including 15 Leclerc stationed in Kosovo and others in Lebanon within UN peace-keeping operations, where their performance was judged satisfactory by French officials.

Until 2010, 13 Leclercs were deployed in the south Lebanon for a peacekeeping mission. As of August 2015, Leclerc tanks of the United Arab Emirates were deployed in combat operations in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition.

Leclerc tank with 140mm gun

Most recently, France was surprised to announce images of its first AMX-56 Leclerc tanks equipped with a 140mm gun, the largest in the world to date. According to the introduction, the new 140mm main gun on the AMX-56 tank is called the Terminator.

After being equipped with the new main gun, the weight of AMX-56 increased to 60 tons with 31 rounds attached. Although the power of the new gun and the intention of the French have not been disclosed, according to Western media, this upgrade package is not outside the purpose of increasing the combat effectiveness for AMX-56 tanks against its prime potential opponent, the Armata of Russia.

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