Thursday, January 22, 2009

Riding the Leopard 2A4, the SAF's MBT

Brunei's Crown Prince, General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, got to drive the Singapore Armed Forces' latest main battle tank, the Leopard 2A4, yesterday as part of his four-day official visit to Singapore.

The Leopard 2 is a German Main Battle Tank developed by Krauss-Maffei in the early 1970s and first entered service in 1979. The Leopard 2 replaced the earlier Leopard 1 as the foremost MBT in the German Army. Various versions have served in the armed forces of Germany and twelve other European countries, as well as several non-European nations. More than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been manufactured. The Leopard 2 first saw combat in Afghanistan with the Danish and Canadian ISAF forces. [source: wiki]

The Leopard 2A4 will bring more punch to our armoured forces by providing greater protection, lethality and mobility. The 55.15-ton Leopard 2A4 can reach a top speed of 72km/h and has a road range of 550 km. It is a highly manoeuvrable tank as evident in its ability to easily clear vertical obstacles 1.1 metres high and trenches three metres across. Its 4-man crew are protected by spaced multi-layered armour that can deflect anti-tank weaponry. An automated fire and explosion suppression system is also incorporated for crew safety.

The Leopard 2A4's main weapon is the powerful L44 Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore gun. With an all-digital fire control system, the Leopard 2A4 can fire accurately at moving targets even as it travels across undulating terrain. Finally, the configuration of the Leopard 2A4 will provide Our Army with the flexibility to introduce future customised upgrades at an appropriate time. One important upgrade to be introduced soon is the Battlefield Management System which when installed, will enable our Leopard tanks to effectively integrate into our fighting forces. [source: MINDEF]

According to wiki, the Singapore Armed Forces has 156 Main Battle Tanks, of which 96 are Leopard 2A4 (66 active plus 30 spares) and 60 Centurion Mk 3/Mk 7. The SAF also has 372 AMX light tanks, 1122 IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles) and 1250 APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers/Reconnaissance Vehicles).

Also in today's The Straits Times, about 1000 soldiers from the SAF and New Zealand Defence Force are taking part in an artillery exercise codenamed "Exercise Thunder Warrior" at the Waiouru Training Area in New Zealand. The exercise began on January 9 and ends on February 13, 2009. Did Gandalf call for reinforcements in the battle for Middle Earth?

Guess what came before the Leopard? The Tiger, of course ;p

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