Ukraine’s Leopard 2A4V Tank Has Add-On Explosive Armor

Ukraine’s Leopard 2A4V Tank Has Add-On Explosive Armor

The Ukrainian military has begun including blocks of explosive reactive armor to its German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks, within the course of making a uniquely Ukrainian model of the basic Eighties-vintage tank.

Let’s name it the Leopard 2A4V. In Soviet-Russian-Ukrainian automobile nomenclature, a “V” signifies the addition of reactive armor.

The primary {photograph} of a Leopard 2A4V circulated on-line in March. However that photograph depicts a 55-ton, four-person Leopard 2 in a workshop someplace in Ukraine. A video that appeared on-line round July 1 depicts one of many up-armored tanks within the wild.

It’s unclear what number of Leopard 2A4s the Ukrainians have fitted with reactive armor. Kyiv’s overseas allies have pledged to the warfare effort 85 Leopard 2s, together with 54 A4s. Thus far, round 40 of the 2A4s have arrived in Ukraine.

Most likely 30 or so equip a battalion of the thirty third Mechanized Brigade, one of many lead items for Kyiv’s long-anticipated southern counteroffensive, which kicked off on June 4.

We’ve noticed two Leopard 2A4 subvariants with reactive armor. The Leopard 2A4V within the photograph from the workshop apparently got here from Poland, Norway or Spain, because it lacks the distinctive driver’s sight that units aside one of many A4s that Canada donated to Ukraine.

The Leopard 2A4V within the newer out of doors photograph clearly is a Canadian mannequin with the distinctive sight. That would point out that the Ukrainians aren’t saving their Kontakt reactive armor for any specific Leopard 2A4 subvariant.

The pictures however might not depict tanks belonging to the thirty third Brigade. A number of Leopard 2A4s apparently from the thirty third have run afoul of Russian mines or explosives-laden drones, then appeared in pictures depicting them of their broken state. Not one of the broken Leopard 2A4s had reactive armor.

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That would imply the thirty third Brigade doesn’t function up-armored Leopard 2A4Vs—and presumably doesn’t plan to. It’s conceivable that the added Kontakt armor is a current improve, and solely newly-arrived Leopard 2A4s—maybe sure for a unit apart from the thirty third—are getting the modification.

It’s clear why the Ukrainian military would wish to add reactive armor to as many as its Leopard 2A4s as it could possibly.

The armor—actually slices of plastic explosives sandwiched inside a steel container—explodes outward when struck by enemy hearth. The outgoing blast may also help to deflect the incoming blast, destroying the armor however hopefully sparing the automobile it’s hooked up it.

The Soviet Union developed explosive reactive armor within the Nineteen Sixties as an expedient: a approach cheaply and successfully to boost the safety of current tanks.

Thus a T-62M tank with 150 millimeters of metal armor grew to become a T-62MV with 150 millimeters of metal safety plus the equal of one other hundred or so millimeters of metal because of the addition of ERA. T-64Bs grew to become T-64BVs. T-80Bs grew to become T-80BVs, et cetera.

The Leopard 2A4 is an getting old tank. Its metal and tungsten armor in some locations affords the identical safety as 800 millimeters of metal. That’s much less safety than, say, a more moderen American M-1A1 or German Leopard 2A6 enjoys.

Including explosive reactive armor might increase a Leopard 2A4’s safety to the equal of round a thousand millimeters of metal wherever the ERA blocks are hooked up. It’s not for no motive that Turkey rushed so as to add reactive armor to its personal Leopard 2A4s after shedding a number of of the tanks in combating in Syria in 2016.

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However be aware: explosive reactive armor works finest towards high-explosive rounds. It’s much less efficient towards non-explosive tungsten penetrators. And ERA can impede delicate gear reminiscent of sights—and even injury this gear when the armor explodes.

Because it occurs, sights are usually focused on the highest of a tank’s turret. It additionally occurs that the Leopard 2A4’s thinnest armor is on its turret high. In different phrases, the place the place a Leopard 2A4 most would profit from add-on armor is identical place the place explosive armor may inflict almost as a lot injury because it prevents.

So reactive armor isn’t a panacea. It might improve a Leopard 2A4’s safety, however solely to a degree. And it received’t do something to safeguard a Leopard 2A4V from what arguably is the best menace it and each different tank kind faces on the Ukraine battlefield: buried anti-tank mines, which have a tendency to break a tank’s tracks and immobilize it even after they don’t destroy it.

However a Leopard 2A4V indisputably is better-protected than a typical Leopard 2A4 is. And that additional armor, nevertheless uneven and imperfect, nonetheless might save just a few treasured tanks and—extra importantly—their crews.

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