Berlin has changed its stance on the delivery of the Leopard 2 main battle tank to Ukraine.

On January 24, the major German news agency Spiegel published an article saying that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had finally decided to approve the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainian army. It is not clear how many tanks will be delivered, but initial information indicates that a company of Leopard 2A6 MBTs will be delivered, equivalent to 14 units.

Der Spiegel noted that the tanks to be delivered will come from the German Bundeswehr’s stockpile. According to the military balance 2021, the German army has a total of 245 main battle tanks including 225 Leopard 2A5 and Leopard 2A6 tanks. The delivery of Leopard 2A6 to Ukraine marked an important turning point in the war in Ukraine. The entry of one of the world’s most powerful tanks into the war could change the military balance between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Ukraine’s favor.

The Leopard 2 is one of the most popular main battle tanks in the West, and the only MBT still in production in Europe. The Leopard 2A6 is a modernized version of the Leopard 2 main battle tank, and it is considered one of the most advanced and capable tanks in the world. It features a number of significant upgrades over its predecessors, including an improved fire control system, an advanced armor package, and a more powerful engine.

The Leopard 2A6 was officially commissioned in the German army in 2001. Armor protection was improved. The Leopard 2A6 is protected by composite armor of new generation and has external modular armor. Furthermore add-on armor, including explosive reactive armor blocks can be fitted. Interior of the tank is lined to prevent spalling.

Compared to the Leopard 2A5, the 2A6 is equipped with a Rh 120 L55 main gun, 1m longer than the Rh 120 L44 of its predecessor. It has better fire accuracy and longer range. It is worth mentioning that the L55 gun can be fitted on any Leopard 2 MBT without any significant changes. This gun is loaded manually and is compatible with standard NATO ammunition. The longer barrel allows ammunition to attain higher velocities. A total of 42 rounds are carried and 15 of them are ready to use, while the rest are stored in front of the hull.

With the improved kinetic energy ammunition DM53, the L55 gun can fire to a range of 5,000 m. A 7.62 mm Rheinmetall MG3 machine gun is mounted coaxially to the left of the main armament and a similar weapon can be mounted on the loader’s hatch. Mounted on either side of the turret are two banks of four smoke grenade dischargers.

The Leopard 2A6 has a hunter-killer engagement capability. The commander uses a panoramic sight with thermal imager to search for targets. Once the target is selected the gun is laid on the target automatically and the gunner completes al the aiming and firing process. During that time commander looks for the next target.

The Leopard 2A 6 retains the engine of its predecessor. The maneuverability is provided by an MTU MB 873 diesel engine, developing 1,500shp. The torsion bar suspension consists of seven dual-rubber wheels on each side with the idler at the front, the drive sprocket at the rear and four track-support rollers. Leopard 2A6 can reach a maximum speed of 68 km/h, and has a range of 500 km.

In recent days, Berlin has shown a change of heart about allowing third countries to deliver German-made tanks to Ukraine. Before that, some of its allies, namely Poland, were harshly critical of the German government. Warsaw warned that it was ready to send tanks to Kiev without asking for permission.

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