German army increases its military power with new tank battalion

In the beginning of December 2018, Germany has formed its first new tank battalion during an official ceremony at the Munster army training ground in Lüneburg Heath that was attended by the German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen. With this new tank battalion, Germany increases its military power of its armed forces to meet its NATO commitments.

German army increases its military power with new tank battalion Leopard 2A6 925 001
German army Leopard 2A6  main battle tank (Picture source Army Recognition)

The first four companies of the new 363rd tank battalion will be equipped with Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks and ready for operational duty in October 2019 with the first and will be stationed in Hardheim, south of Frankfurt. A second company will start active duty in October 2021 which will be followed by transferring two more companies from bases in Bavaria and Thuringia.

A second company will become active in October 2021, followed by the transfer of another two companies to Hardheim from bases in the states of Bavaria and Thuringia.

More than 100 Leopard 2 main battle tanks are currently being upgraded, some of which will join the 363rd Panzer Battalion, von der Leyen said.

Recently Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans to raise military spending to 1.5 percent of gdp by the middle of the next decade and ultimately to the NATO threshold of 2 percent.

The latest generations of main battle tanks in the family of Leopard 2 are the Leopard 2A6 and Leopard 2A7. In September 2017, Germany army has awarded the German Company Rheinmetall Defense to upgrade 104 Leopard 2 tanks. According a press release published on the official website of Rheinmetall, the contract includes the modernization of 68 Leopard 2A4, 16 Leopard 2A6 and 20 Leopard 2A7 main battle tanks, bringing them up to A7V standard.

The main armament of Leopard 2A6 includes the 120mm L55 smoothbore gun which was developed by Rheinmetall Waffei Munition of Ratingen, Germany to replace the shorter 120mm L44 smoothbore tank gun on the first version of Leopard 2. With the improved kinetic energy ammunition DM53 the L55 gun can fire to a range of 5,000 m.

The Leopard 2A6 is fitted with an 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.

German army increases its military power with new tank battalion Leopard 2A7V 925 001
German Leopard 2A7V at Eurosatory defense exhibition in France, June 2016. (Picture source Army Recognition)

The Leopard 2A7V is the latest version of German-made main battle tank (MBT) in the Leopard 2 family that was unveiled in June 2016, at Eurosatory, the international defense exhibition which was held in Paris, France.

The Leopard 2A7V is fitted with a new armored modular system for the upper front glacis plate of the hull and a more powerful Auxiliary Power Unit of the current APU used on the Leopard 2A7 model. Currently, only 20 Leopard 2A7 MBTs are in service with the Germany army.

The Leopard 2A7V MBT is armed with a 120-mm L55A1 gun and can fire new generation of armor-piercing ammunition, which form a higher pressure in the barrel channel. Also in Leopard 2A7V can be used the new programmable universal projectile DM11 from Rheinmetall.