The original 2A6, developed in the late 90’s as a successor to the Leopard 2A5, entering service with the German Army in 2001, is an up-gunned Leopard 2A5 sporting a new L/55 120mm gun with a new APFSDS round. The Leopard 2A6 features wedge-like cheek applique armor, a far upgrade from the Leopard 2A4, allowing increased protection for the crew and their equipment. Since the onset of the War in Afghanistan, the German Army had increasing difficulty in protecting vehicle crews from IED’s and urban warfare, launched an armor program upgrading tanks and other vehicles with additional armor plating around the chassis to counter such threats. This resulted in the Leopard 2A6M variant.
The Canadian Conundrum :
During the early to mid states of the War in Afghanistan, the Canadian Army lacked suitable armored vehicles in its face-off with the Taliban. Most of its Leopard C2’s had been slated for disposal/sale so by the time the Canadian Army commanders had requested armored support, the Army didn’t have many vehicles prepared for deployment. This sent the Canadian Army scrambling to access its current C2 Leopard inventory and prepare them for the environment in Afghanistan, adding MEXAS armor and other small improvements over time. As the war progressed, the now almost 40-year old modified C2 Leopard’s were becoming difficult to maintain due to the sandy environments and age. With the C2’s bulk, including its addon MEXAS armor, made it difficult to maneuver in villages and towns in several vital areas and the addon armor was not effective against IED’s and chemical-based warheads insurgents routinely used. This prompted the Canadian’s in 2007, to reach out to the German Government for support. The German’s prepared 20 Leopard 2A6M’s, in preparation for the hostile, IED filled environment, and leased them at no charge to the Canadian Government. This gave the Canadian’s its well-needed fire support to continue its mission in Afghanistan. The well received Leopard 2A6M caused the Canadian’s to purchase 20 additional surplus 2A6’s from the Netherlands, allowing the return of the 20 Leopards originally borrowed from Germany. Entering service in 2009, the Canadian’s still operate these tanks, upgrading them to the 2A6M level, also including several local upgrades. This variant is known as the “Leopard 2A6M CAN”. These tanks serve with the Canadian Lord Strathcona’s Horse tank regiment.
The Leopard 2A6M CAN maintains the exact same 120mm L/55 gun (42 rounds, 15 stored in ready-use positions) and munitions currently in-game. The only difference is the replacement of the MG3A1 machine guns with Canadian C6 7.62mm machine guns, one located on the top of the turret, the other mounted coaxially to the main gun (4,750 rounds of 7.62 carried).
The Canadian Leopard 2A6M CAN uses the DM53 APFSDS round as well as the DM12A1 HEAT round.
The largest difference between the German Leopard 2A6M and the Canadian Leopard 2A6M is the addition of slat armor and armor plating around the tank. The 2A6M CAN incorporates slat armor around the turret sides, side skirts, engine compartment, drive train components. This is designed to increase survivability against HEAT rounds by igniting the fuze of the round before it impacts the tank. The 2A6M CAN also maintains the same chassis armor plating as well as armor plating around the driver, to better protect the crew against IED’s. This can be mostly seen from the lower-glacis. This armor is made of composites, steel, and tungsten materials.
Another noticeable addon is the use of Saab Barracuda camouflage mats which cover a vast majority of the tank. These serve to enhance survivability of the tank as well as protect the crew from solar loading by 50%.
In addition to this, the optics were also upgraded. In the mid-2010’s, the Canadian government upgraded the Gunners optics to the Hensoldt 3rd generation thermals.
- x16 Smoke Launchers.
- 2nd Generation Panoramic Thermals for Commander.
- 3rd Generation Thermals from Hensoldt for Gunner.
- Laser Rangefinder
The Leopard 2A6M CAN maintains the same engine/drive-train currently used in game. The only major difference is the slightly-added weight from the mine-protection armor and slat armor mounted almost around the entire tank.
- Added to a British/Canadian sub-tree, this would grant the British untold firepower and mobility, supporting the Challenger 2 series as well as providing an opening to including more Canadian vehicles such as the C2A1 MEXAS, Leopard 2A4M CAN, Leopard 1A3/C1, and others in the British tree, similar to the South African sub-tree.
- Added to the German tree would allow the German’s to have more of a tank lineup, introducing another Leopard 2A6 to its ranks.
- Added to an independent Canadian tree would allow the Canadians to deploy top-tier MBT in support of NATO countries currently in-game.
- This vehicle, along with the 2A4M (posted today in the same forums) would complement each other very well due to both having similar armor attributes.
- The Leopard changes (some) of its spots | Canadian Army Today
- The myth surrounding Canadian Leopard tanks in Afghanistan | Ottawa Citizen
- Army Guide
- Leopard 2A6M CAN Tank - Fighting-Vehicles.com