There are two separate combat improvement programmes planned for the Leopard 2 MBT which has now been in service with the German Army for 20 years.
KWS I covers the installation of a new Rheinmetall 120 mm 55 calibre smoothbore gun as the replacement for the current Rheinmetall 120 mm 44 calibre smoothbore gun.
In addition to firing the current range of ammunition, it will also fire the improved 120 mm Kinetic energy ammunition (LK II) with increased armour penetration characteristics.
Trials of the 120 mm 55 calibre barrel have been underway for some time, but as of early 1999, no date for the introduction of this weapon into the German and Royal Netherlands armies has been decided.
The Leopard 2A5 when fitted with 120 mm L 55 calibre barrel will be designated the Leopard 2A6. There are additional details of the 120 mm L 55 calibre barrel in Leopard 2 MBT entry.
The KWS II combat improvement programme is already underway for the German and Royal Netherlands armies under the designation of the Leopard 2A5 and these and other improvements are also incorporated into the latest production Leopard 2 MBTs for the Swedish Army.
The first of three prototypes of the Leopard 2A5 was completed by Krauss-Maffei (on the 1st January Krauss-Maffei and Wegmann merged to become Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH and Co KG) late in 1990 and following trials, was accepted for service. Development of the Leopard 2A5 was funded by Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. Krauss-Maffei was awarded the contract to upgrade the Leopard 2 to the Leopard 2A5 standard in January 1994.
In September 1995, the German Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement took delivery from Krauss-Maffei of the first of 225 Leopard 2 MBTs (covered in detail in the following entry) which are being upgraded to the Leopard 2A5 configuration, or Leopard 2 (Improved) as it was previously referred to.
The 225 vehicles are being upgraded by Krauss-Maffei, the prime contractor for the Leopard 2 MBT. The turrets are being upgraded by Wegmann in Kassel which delivers them to Krauss-Maffei which then integrates the turret with the chassis and delivers the completed vehicle to the German Army.
Krauss-Maffei delivered 16 Leopard 2A5s in 1995 with production running at six vehicles a month from January 1996, production for the German Army has now been completed.
The German Army has 20 active and 14 reserve tank battalions. Of these, 26 have the Leopard 2 and the remainder the Leopard 1. Of the 26 Leopard 2 battalions, three have the latest Leopard 2A5 while the remainder have older Leopard 2 MBTs. These three battalions are earmarked for the Crisis Reaction Forces which will be increased to 6 Leopard 2A5 battalions in the future.
In March 1994 the Royal Netherlands Army decided to upgrade 180 of its Leopard 2s to the Leopard 2A5 standard, with an option on a further 150 vehicles. First deliveries were made to the Netherlands in March 1996 and run through to September 2000.
As Switzerland took delivery of the last of its Leopard 2 MBTs as recently as 1993, it will not decide on upgrading its vehicles until around the year 2000.
The Leopard 2A5, with a number of further improvements, especially in the areas of armour and command and control, has been ordered by the Swedish Army (120 plus option on a further 90) with Spain (219) also selecting this version. Additional details are given under Spain and Sweden later in this section.
The layout of the Leopard 2A5 is virtually identical to that of the Leopard 2 with the main areas of improvement being:
(1)The commander's roof-mounted periscope now has a thermal sight whose image is transmitted to a monitor inside the turret. This allows the commander and gunner to engage targets under all weather conditions and also allows them to operate as a hunter (commander) and killer (gunner) team. The commander's monitor can also show the gunner's day and night vision images while the commander can see his own day vision through his eyepiece
(2)Installation of a new all-electric gun control equipment as a replacement for the earlier hydraulic system. This new all-electric system is not only quieter but is also easier to maintain and consumes less electrical energy
(3)Improved armour protection over the frontal arc with the turret front having a distinctive arrowhead shape. This provides a significant increase in protection against both kinetic and chemical energy attack. The turret interior has been fitted with spall liners. The side skirts also incorporate composite improved armour. The new externally mounted armour panels can be removed with onboard equipment and can be replaced by armour modules with a higher level of protection
(4)New driver's hatch that slides to the right
(5)Installation of a TV camera at the rear of the hull with monitor for the driver to allow for safer reversing of the tank. This has a 65° field of view in horizontal and vertical planes
(6)Hybrid navigation system based on fibre-gyro technology with GPS support enables the tank commander to navigate in any operational environment and represents a key element in command and control system which can be retrofitted at a future date
(7)The laser range data processor is modified. Until now, only the second (more distant) echo of range measurement has been accepted as valid. It will now also be possible to evaluate the first echo if required. The first echo is required for shorter reaction times when engaging helicopters and for engaging these targets APFSDS projectiles would be used as they have such a flat trajectory