With the advanced Cockerill 3105 turret, the outdated Leopard 1A5 has significantly enhanced combat power, even compared to modern MBTs.

It is expected that in December 2023, Belgian defense industry company John Cockerill will introduce an upgraded version of the Leopard 1A5 main battle tank at one of the military bases in French territory.

The leopard 1 tank was widely used in the 1980s and 1990s. There are still a number of them in service and country are looking to upgrade the fire control capability and while the company looked at taking the existing turret and trying to make modifications. John Cockerill realized that integrating the company’s existing 3105 turret into the Leopard 1 chassis is a logical solution.

According to preliminary introduction, instead of the old turret, the Leopard 1A5 will be equipped with a Cockerill 3105 remote control turret mounted with a 105 mm Cockerill HP cannon, fitted with an autoloader that can accommodate 12 or 16 rounds. The Cockerill 3105 turret is made of aluminum to facilitate integration onto a variety of platforms, which can be equipped with armor kits bringing its protection up to STANG 4569 Level 5.

The two-man turret, with the commander’s and gunner’s stations are identical, linked to a digital fire control system, while both operators have dual sights stabilized, and the system allowing hunter-killer operations. Secondary armament consists of a coaxial 7.62mm MG and a trunnion-mounted 12.7mm. The engine and transmission departments, as well as the hull in general, have not undergone changes, however the weight of the turret reduced by 3.5 tons allows for a lighter tank, improving performance.

The idea of modernizing the Leopard 1A5 tank was introduced by John Cockerill Company representative at the Eurosatory Defense Exhibition in the summer of 2022 and now the prototype has officially launched. This upgrade option brings great benefits such as improving situational awareness for the crew, increasing the angle of elevation of the gun and enhancing firepower through the installation of the latest fire control system.

However, there is a problem: to install the Cockerill 3105 turret on the Leopard 1A5, the tank’s hull must be slightly modified, because the height of the parts inside this turret is much larger than the hull. Currently, the time needed for conversion as well as the cost of the upgrade package have not yet been announced. However, the company assured that in theory, they could integrate the new turret onto the Leopard 1A5 tank without too much modification.

The Cockerill 3105 offers a mature and qualified solution for wheeled and tracked platforms. The same turret also arms the Turkish-Indonesian Kaplan MT Medium Tank and South Korean Hanwa K21-105 Medium Tank. Currently there is no clear information about potential customers of the Leopard 1A5 tank upgraded with the Cockerill 3105 turret. Turkey, Brazil and Greece, which use the Leopard 1 series in large numbers, do not seem interested in modernizing their vehicles with the Cockerill 3105 turret. Therefore, an interesting assumption has been made, that is, the option of upgrading the Leopard 1A5 tank with a Cockerill 3105 turret could be useful for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Leopard 1 is a main battle tank designed and produced by Porsche in West Germany that first entered service in 1965. The Leopard 1 quickly became a standard of many European militaries, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide, with West Germany, Italy and the Netherlands being the largest operators until their retirement. The Leopard 2 has replaced the Leopard 1 in service with many other nations as well, with derived vehicles using the Leopard 1 hull still seeing service.

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