The Panzer 87 140 WE prototype represented a significant step in the evolution of Swiss armoured warfare, conceived to bring the Leopard 2A4 into the future battlefield with enhancements in firepower, electronics, and protection. Launched in 2003, the upgrade was an ambitious plan to transform the existing Panzer 87 Werterhaltung (Pz 87 WE), which had already received updates including improved optics and control systems.
The 140 WE variant was designed to further build upon the Pz 87 WE’s upgrades, which had introduced new composite armour, potentially incorporating titanium, advanced surveillance systems like thermal and reverse cameras, and an electric turret drive for increased efficiency. More so, it aimed to elevate the tank’s combat capabilities with a sophisticated autoloading mechanism and state-of-the-art weaponry.
However, despite the prototype’s promise to set a new standard for Swiss tanks, both the Panzer 87 140 WE and original WE prototype were ultimately deemed too costly for the Swiss Army’s requirements. The focus thus shifted back to the Pz 87 WE, which became the mainstay after a cost-effective modernization of select units. This pragmatic approach led to the official upgrade of 134 tanks to the WE standard by 2013, incorporating many of the practical advancements from the prototype without the full extent of its envisioned capabilities. The journey of the Panzer 87 140 WE, while not culminating in full-scale adoption, nonetheless influenced future Swiss military procurement and the continuous iterative development of their armoured fleet.
Due to the nature of the prototype not much is publicly known about the capabilities of Panzer 87 140 WE’s available APFSDS or HEATFS shell. Some pictures and statements from swiss munition producers claim the APFSDS to be 1000mm long, 26mm in diameter and having muzzle velocity of 1,800m/s. This would make the round quite capable. According to the diagrams of the turret, it has an autoloader capable of holding 32 rounds with potentially being able to load a shell every ~9 seconds. I would assume the turret rotation speed, gun elevation and depression remain the same as the 2A4.
- 1 x RUAG 140mm L/47 gun (32 rounds)
- 1 x 7.5 mm MG 51/87(4,750 rounds)
While the Panzer 87 140 WE likely became heavier due to its new gun and the space modifications required for the autoloader, various design changes counterbalance this increase. With the reduction of the crew to three men and a decrease in the protected area, the overall weight of the tank may not exceed that of the regular Panzer 87-WE. Therefore, until more specific data is obtained, it’s reasonable to maintain the estimated weight at 56.5 tonnes. This assumption, combined with the tank’s MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled V12 twin-turbo diesel engine, which delivers 1,500 PS (1,479 hp, 1,103 kW) at 2,600 rpm, and a power-to-weight ratio of 27 hp/tonnes through a Renk HSWL 354 transmission, suggests that the Panzer 87 140 WE should retain mobility comparable to the Leopard 2A4.
- Engine: MTU MB 873 Ka-501 liquid-cooled V12 twin-turbo diesel engine 1,500 HP
Transmission: Renk HSWL 354
The Panzer 87 140 WE advances the Leopard 2A4’s legacy through an upgraded composite armor, believed to include titanium, which significantly enhances its protective capabilities against kinetic energy and chemical energy threats. These improvements remain classified, underscoring the armour’s modernity and strategic advantage. This strategic enhancement in armour not only provides a substantial boost in defence but also results in a weight increase of approximately 1.5 tonnes.
Due to the lack of information I was not sure if the Panzer 87 140 WE had 3 or 4 crew members, most likely only had 3 due to the new autoloader setup but sadly there are still a lot of missing details about this mysterious tank.
Breach + APFSDS
Diagram of the turret & autoloader.
Most likely uses version A as the commander & loader hatches are still clearly visible.
Diagram of the turret & autoloader.