Leopard-2 Tank: Franco-German JV Flashes “Ground Breaking” MBT That Aims To Dominate Future Warfare

A Franco-German joint venture has unveiled an all-new Main Battle Tank (MBT), which is likely to be a stop-gap solution until the two countries develop a next-generation tank.

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KNDS announced that it has produced a Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 tank equipped with an autonomous, remote-controlled turret. The tank will be displayed at the Eurosatory defense expo in Paris next week.

KNDS is a joint venture between Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and France’s Nexter. The new Leopard-2 MBT will be displayed alongside the Leclerc Evolution vehicle. The press release stated that KNDS will also showcase its previously disclosed Enhanced Main Battle Tank (EMBT) demonstrator alongside the Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0.

Reports indicate that any Leopard 2 MBT, regardless of type, can be converted to the A-RC 3.0 configuration, owing to the modular design approach. The manufacturer disclosed that while the tank is meant for export, it will also be a bridge solution for France and Germany till they produce and acquire the much-anticipated next-generation MBT.

This may be good news for France and Germany, currently collaborating to develop their next-generation aircraft, the Future Air Combat System (FCAS) along with Spain. After overcoming some key differences, the program is reportedly back on track. An update on the progress of the FCAS was provided by Airbus at the recent ILA Berlin Air Show.

According to reports, the FCAS/SCAF includes three components: an NGF, the main sixth-generation fighter; Remote Carriers (RC), also known as loyal wingmen drones; and an Air Combat Cloud (ACC) networking capability.

For the newly unveiled tank, the manufacturer refused to reveal the approximate cost of the A-RC 3.0 vehicle and informed us that it had self-funded the new vehicle until now.

The timing of the new tank-breaking cover is significant as it comes at a time when Leopard-2 MBTs have seen a massive surge in popularity after being desperately sought-after by Ukraine for almost a year. Several countries have reportedly shown interest in acquiring the advanced variants of the Leopard-2.

The latest Leopard 2 builds on the 2A8 standard, which is the most advanced variant of the series yet. Germany and Norway have purchased it, and the Czech Republic is also considering a possible acquisition.

Earlier, Italy was looking to acquire and produce the Leopard-2A8, but recent reports point out that negotiations between Italy’s Leonardo and KNDS regarding the joint development and production of the Leopard 2A8 main battle tank (MBT) have fallen through.

Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0:KNDS

What Do We Know About Leopard-2 A-RC 3.0?

The new Leopard 2 variant features a fully automated turret that can be equipped with a massive 140mm main gun. The tank also has a remote weapon station with a 30mm cannon specifically claimed to combat drones, a threat that has suddenly become more real as tanks are regularly destroyed using loitering munitions and First-Person View (FPV) drones in Ukraine.

The modular design of the Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0’s new turret is certainly its most notable feature. According to KNDS, depending on the customer’s request, the tank can be equipped with its present 120mm main guns —standard weaponry for Western tanks — and future 130mm and 140mm guns that the company has been developing.

“The ballistic protection is supplemented by a proven active protection system and a remote-controlled [30mm] weapon station to counter drone threats,” according to the details provided by the manufacturer. “The firepower of the Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 is augmented by a guided missile system with which targets beyond the line of sight can also be engaged while on the move.”

Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 will feed ammo into the mounted main gun using an autoloader because its turret is empty. According to KNDS, the MBT will be able to fire three rounds in ten seconds. The modular design of the ammo storage system allows for more flexibility in caliber selection.

Due to the newly redesigned turret, the A-RC 3.0 variant will require just three personnel to operate, but up to four can be accommodated in the tank. According to KNDS, having the crew grouped in a hull compartment will significantly reduce their vulnerability by about 30%.

The Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0’s new 30mm cannon-armed remote weapon station protrudes conspicuously over the turret roof, along with integrated smoke grenade launchers. KNDS highlighted this ability, which will be instrumental in countering drones, which have become a menace for ground-based systems, as seen in the Ukraine conflict.

Additionally, KNDS disclosed that the latest Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 vehicle is considered a “decisive technological precursor” to the multinational endeavor and a “bridge solution” to the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) future main battle tank.

KNDS Deutschland, KNDS France, Rheinmetall Landsysteme, and Thales announced in April the establishment of a four-party MGCS joint venture. The announcement followed French and German officials’ nod to the “Phase 1a” agreement, which initiated the construction of the next-generation tank.