Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Leopards are on the prowl

The Leopards are on the prowl - I'm talking about the German-made Leopard 2 MBT (Main Battle Tank), the latest tank of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The SAF unveiled its newest unit on Friday June 26, 2009 - 48th Battalion, Singapore Armoured regiment (48 SAR), which is just over a year old and has more than 10 Leopards, with more to come to make a total of 102.

It is the fifth unit in the SAF's Armour arsenal, joining the other units with Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carriers. 48 SAR has been put through its paces, undergoing manoeuvre training and live-fire exercises in Singapore, Australia and most recently, Bergen in Germany.

The four-man tank has more firepower than the ageing SM-1 tanks it will replace: A full-stabilised 120mm cannon that combines punch and accuracy, two 7.62mm machine guns and 16 smoke launchers. Powered by a turbo-charged diesel engine which allows it to reach speeds of 70kmh, the multi-layered armour plating also provides better protection against anti-tank weapons.

Brigadier-General Philip Lim, Chief Armour Officer, puts it best when he said, "The core of the vehicle is very much based on the heart of the crew." You can have the best machines in the world but you also need the best fighting men for the job behind it. It's man and his machine, not man vs machine - that's another movie altogether.

Here's an old picture of tank crew men cleaning the turret of their French-made AMX-13 light tank. These tanks, along with the V200 armoured vehicles, made up Singapore's first armoured battalion. The V200s would later be handed over to the RSAF ADA (Air Defence Artillery) batteries.

Earlier post on the Leopard MBT here and another post on the Singapore Bronco which was acquired by the British Army for the treacherous combat zones of Afghanistan.

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