Leopard 2A7V which stands for Leopard 2A7 Verbessert (Improved) is the most recent advanced version of the Leopard 2 to have been pressed into service with the Bundeswehr in September of 2021, making it the newest MBT in service with German Army as well. The tank is vastly different, both inside and outside compared to its predecessors (such as Leopard 2A6M and Leopard 2A7). It majorly improves areas such as lethality/firepower, mobility, protection as well as situational awareness. The tank is a direct result of Russia improving its tank fleet by introducing new MBTs such as T-72B3M, T-80BVM and T-90M (it gives Germany an overmatch capability by being much superior to any of tanks mentioned) as well as newer missile carriers, it was “born” in 2015 with first serial production vehicles being handed over to the Heer in 2020.
The tank, unlike the previous iterations, has a completely new hull built from scratch to handle higher weight (66.5 metric tons) because of direct improvements to the armour protection. The turret as well received a near total overhaul due its age and new transport bins.
So what changed exactly that the new Leopard has “Improved” in its name?
As you may already know, the tank’s weight has increased dramatically - from 63.9 tons of the Leopard 2A7 to 66.5 tons for the Leopard 2A7V. To cope with such an increase, the tank has received new P25.000 HD final drives as well as recalibrated final drive ratios - as a result, the MBT’s top speed was reduced to 63kph forward and 28kph in reverse from the original 68kph and 31kph (on road - rough terrain top speed forward had not changed) but as a trade off, it has vastly improved acceleration characteristics, comparable to that of the much older but also much lighter Leopard 2A4. The tank’s suspension was also greatly changed. The modifications include new drive sprockets, the new 570 Z double pin track, new stronger torsion bars and the installation of hydraulic dampers on all seven wheel stations on each side, in contrast to only five per side previously.
Leopard 2A7V is equippped with a new and more powerful cannon - the L/55A1, it’s design/chamber pressure was increased from 740MPa to 760MPa and Extreme Service Condition Pressure Limit from 672MPa to 700MPa. This was done for two reason - the new APFSDS projectiles. The KE2020 (now DM73) and KE2020Neo - both of these are more powerful than older DM63 and DM53 (especially KE2020Neo - which is said to be 20% better than DM63). The DM73 achieves 8% more energy at the muzzle, which upon translation into meters per second would mean that the projectiles new initial velocity is in range of 1830m/s to 1860m/s then when used with DM53s penetrator dimensions would give about ~683mm of penetration against a flat steel plate. The penetrator itself is identical to DM63 but the sabot is now made from composite materials which should make the new round lighter. Just like DM63, it uses SCBD i.e Surface Coated Double Base propellant which according to Rheinmetall’s official documents has excellent IM (insensitivity) properties and is incredibly resistant to detonation, instead it deflagrates (goes up in flames that can be extguinshed by the tank’s new FP system) or show no reaction to KE, CE, instant heating and EFP hits. The other projectile, the KE2020Neo is a completely new development - it is said to weight about 10kg’s now, it has a new and longer Tungsten penetrator as well as a higher velocity (~1780m/s). The tank has also access to multipurpose DM11 HE-FS round. DM12 is not used on it. The KE2020Neo is meant to defeat Relikt explosive reactive armour as well as composite armours of tanks such as T-90M and possibly T-14 while DM73 extends the range at which Leopard 2 can defeat tanks such as T-90A and T-72B3M.
Possibly the biggest change. There’s speculations regarding turret’s protection, as no source yet states that the D-technology inserts were changed for new ones. As for the hull - due to it being completely new, KMW decided to make use of newer armour technologies, namely the D-technology composite that would replace the C-technology previously used on the Leopard 2A6 - increasing protection without the add-on by roughly ~25 to 30% against KE threats (~575mm KE without the add-on) and ~20 - 30% against CE threats. The tank also comes equipped with newer add-ons for both the glacis and the upper frontal plate produced by EODH (Engineering Office Deisenroth Hellas) - increasing the hull’s protection to that of the turret’s which would mean somewhere between ~850mm - 900 against KE threats and ~1500mm against CE threats. It is also equipped with Panzerung in E-technologie add-on armour for its under-skirt side armour - also called “RPG catcher” meant to defeat Chemical threats. The empty spaces known from Leopard 2A5s hull (can be seen in x-ray on the sides of the tank, behind the side fuel tanks) are filled with ceramic/NERA based filler, further improving both the survivability and protection of the tank against both Kinetic and Chemical threats. The tank can also be equipped with BARACCUDA thermal reducing camouflage. The amount of smoke grenades was lowered from a total of 16 (8 per side) to 12 (6 per side).
I’ve noticed something interesting in Ralph Zwilling’s Leopard 2A7V book, it appears that the internal turret modules were also replaced with newer ones - the wedge add-on (from the context) can be thought up to be newer as well:
Pictures of the additional under-skirt armour:
Long story short - the gunner now has access to ATTICA 3rd generation thermal sight that we already know from the Puma IFV. Commander also has ATTICA in his PERI 17A3. They now have a digital as well as physical zoom and can identify targets at a range of 4.8km’s, recognize them at 9.3km’s and detect them at 15.7km’s thanks to BAA’s super near field-of-view (SNFOV). The driver is now equipped with SPECTUS camera that also comes with a third generation thermal viewer and image intensifier. SPECTUS is placed on the upper frontal plate (on top of the add-on armour) and at the tank’s back, giving the driver thermal view of both what’s in front of him and behind him.