|Manufacturer:||Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co.KG - KMW|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Main battle tank|
Wide, open spaces are the battle tank’s natural habitat. There it can exploit its superior combination of fire-power, protection and mobility to the best advantage, and dominate the battlefield. In villages and towns, on the other hand, it is ill at ease, and soon becomes a prey to claustrophobia. That is why, up to now, armoured units have always given built-up areas as wide a berth as possible. With the LEOPARD 2 PSO (Peace Support Operations), KMW have changed all that, and adapted the battle tank to the demands of the 21st century.
KMW have developed this version of the LEOPARD 2 specifically for deployment in built-up areas, so-called MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) – a scenario that is becoming increasingly significant in the conflicts of the 21st century, for example in Afghanistan. Here, a potentially inferior enemy finds cover and concealment, and can attack armoured units at close range with hand-held anti-tank weapons without being detected and combated in time. To survive in such surroundings, the LEOPARD 2 PSO has, among other things, improved all-round protection from anti-tank weapons. The floor has been provided with reinforced mine protection. Like all LEOPARD 2s, the LEOPARD 2 PSO has a 120 mm gun, with which it can unfold its excellent fire-power even in densely built-up areas.
For its self-defence, the LEOPARD 2 PSO has a Type FLW 200 weapon station with integrated day and night sights on the turret, which the crew can operate remotely from a monitor in the protected interior. The weapon station has a horizontal traverse of 360°. Up and down, the FLW 200 can be moved in an arc of almost 90° overall. This allows the crew of the LEOPARD 2 PSO to defend themselves on all sides, and to observe and open fire on upper storeys of urban buildings. The weapon station can be armed either with various machine-guns (light, medium, heavy) or with 40 mm automatic grenade launchers. But it can also be loaded with non-lethal ammunition, for example to bring a rebellion under control. The hydraulic rake blade, which can be raised, lowered and swivelled left and right, can also be used for this purpose. With it, the LEOPARD 2 PSO can clear barricades or other obstacles out of the way. A special communication platform at the rear of the tank facilitates cooperation with dismounted infantry personnel. In addition, each LEOPARD 2 PSO is equipped with the IFIS guidance system. The provision of data transmission equipment and a GPS system means that the exact position of each tank is known. This makes guidance in battle easier, and minimises the risk of firing on friendly units by mistake, because the crew of each LEOPARD 2 PSO knows where their own and the enemy troops are.
In order to maintain a clear overview even in confused situations, the crew can observe the immediate surroundings by means of a high-performance camera system. Monitors give the crew a 360° field of vision around the vehicle. Threats can thus be detected more quickly, and the crew can react immediately. In addition, they have a total of three modern thermal-image units and two search and sighting lights at their disposal for reconnaissance purposes. A high-performance cooling system ensures that the climate inside the LEOPARD 2 PSO remains in a comfortable range, whether it is hot or cold outside. KMW presented the first prototype of the LEOPARD 2 PSO at the Eurosatory 2006 in Paris. Meanwhile the tank has given impressive proof of its extraordinary mobility as a so-called test carrier. Because of their intense interest in the tank, the Bundeswehr were and still are very closely involved at a conceptual level in its development, which KMW have financed entirely out of their own assets. KMW also took into consideration the experience of the Canadian and Danish armed forces, which have already successfully deployed the LEOPARD 2 in Afghanistan. The components of the LEOPARD 2 PSO are so designed that all LEOPARD 2s that are at present in use can be upgraded to this version. In the years 2011 to 2018, the Bundeswehr intend to have a total of 150 of their LEOPARD 2s fitted with PSO components. In addition, 50 so-called UrbOp (Urban Operations) kits are to be procured; these also are also based on PSO components. This is the Bundeswehr’s reaction to the changed mission requirements that German soldiers are encountering in their conflict-prevention and crisis-containment missions, including the fight against international terrorism. With the PSO version, KMW, as the partner of the Bundeswehr, are turning the LEOPARD 2 battle tank into a weapon system that is technically fit for the 21st century.