Leopard 1A5 is considered to help the Ukrainian army somewhat revive the strength of the armored force.

Reuters reports that Germany has agreed to provide a batch of heavy weapons to Ukraine. Of these, the German defense company Rheinmetall  has requested the government for approval to export 88 Leopard 1A5 tanks to Ukraine. Rheinmetall had also sought a license to export 100 old Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.

The Leopard 1 tank, first entered service in 1965, is the predecessor of the more modern Leopard 2, currently in use by the German army. The series of Leopard 1 tanks that are about to be brought to Ukraine are in the German army’s stockpile after they are withdrawn from service.

Leopard 1 is considered to help the Ukrainian army somewhat revive the strength of the armored force, which has suffered great losses after the skirmishes with Russia. Leopard 1 was designed based on the fact that the tanks of the early Cold War could not withstand ATGMs with cumulative projectiles, so the designers decided to neglect the armor in favor of firepower, speed, and improved ground clearance. Leopard 1, only 40 tons in the original version, fast and maneuverable, and the British 105-mm gun Royal Ordnance L7 allowed it to feel quite confident on the battlefield of the time.

Leopard 1A5
Leopard 1A5

In the late 1960s, Leopard 1 was upgraded to 1A1 standard. It received a new stabilization system and thermal sleeve of the gun, an additional “skirt” to protect the trucks and additional armor, a new configuration of tracks. The Leopard 1A5 in question is another update from the 1980s.

On the Leopard 1A5, a new 120-mm cannon was planned. Unfortunately, this option has not been used. Space in the hull was also modified to accommodate new ammunition and equipment. The Krupp-Atlas Elektronik EMES 18 fire control system, which is an evolution of the EMES 15 system used in Leopard 2. In addition, the Leopard 1A5 received new shells, including sub-caliber armor-piercing and new mounted ceramic armor. The first Leopard 1A5 models were adopted by the army in 1987.

Compared with contemporary modern tanks, Leopard 1 is quite outdated. The weak 105-mm gun simply cannot break through the armor of the updated T-80BVM or T-90AM, and weak armor will not withstand the shot of a 120-mm gun. But Leopard 1 can still be useful.

First, thanks to its high maneuverability, the Leopard 1 can be used as a tank support machine to destroy the ATGM crews that threaten tank columns. Second, Leopard 1 can be used to hold secondary positions to free up more modern tanks for important areas. In addition, light tanks can be provided to Territorial Defense.

In any case, Leopard 1, which may arrive in Ukraine in six weeks, is a fairly quick and, hopefully, not very expensive solution to add to the Armed Forces tank arsenal. In addition, this is another important step forward in Germany’s arms supply to Ukraine. The cost of used Leopard 1A5 tanks, which can be delivered to Ukraine, is about EUR 115 million.


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