Ground Warfare

Hellenic Army Plans Leopard 1A5 HEL Main Battle Tank Upgrade

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Hellenic Army Plans Leopard 1A5 HEL Main Battle Tank Upgrade

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Hellenic Army Plans Leopard 1A5 HEL Main Battle Tank Upgrade
Hellenic Army Plans Leopard 1A5 HEL Main Battle Tank Upgrade

The Hellenic Army is actively exploring options for upgrading its Leopard 1A5 HEL main battle tanks (MBTs), with industry proposals pouring in for consideration. On January 30, 2024, EODH had submitted a comprehensive upgrade plan in collaboration with KNDS’ Krauss Maffei-Wegmann (KMW) and Spanish defense company Duma. This proposal includes a detailed plan, complete with a prototype construction timeline and acceptance testing schedule. Drawing insights from the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict, EODH’s proposal emphasizes the incorporation of explosive reactive armor (ERA) weighing less than 2 tonnes. Additionally, the plan suggests the integration of additional passive armor on the tank’s rear, with the option of adding cope cage armor on the roof. the defense publication Janes reported that to enhance the Leopard 1A5’s capabilities, EODH proposes the removal of the Blohm & Voss armor, elimination of obsolete subsystems and wiring, and the introduction of the ability to fire guided anti-tank missiles and loitering munitions from its main armament.

EODH does not recommend replacing the tank’s 105 mm gun but advocates for providing the option of installing an anti-tank missile launcher. With the full passive and ERA package, the tank’s combat weight would reach 46 tonnes, necessitating the reinforcement of the suspension. To address this, EODH suggests replacing the existing 830 hp engine with a more powerful 1,000 hp version, along with the possibility of introducing new tracks. The proposal includes the installation of a remote weapon station (RWS) featuring a heavy machine gun on the Leopard 1A5’s turret roof. This RWS is complemented by a commander’s independent panoramic periscope, with options for incorporating a jamming system to counter unmanned aerial vehicles and loitering munitions. The LEOPARD 1A5 HEL upgrade is envisioned as a next-generation package, integrating cutting-edge technologies to provide superior tactical capabilities in diverse battlefield conditions. The LEP is designed for collaborative combat at various levels, from platoon to division, integrating land, air, and robotic assets through multi-layered data networks.

Leopard 1A5 HEL Life Extension Programme (LEP)
Leopard 1A5 HEL Life Extension Programme (LEP). (Photo by EODH)

The Kampfpanzer Leopard 1 (also styled Leopard I, before the Leopard 2 simply known as the Kampfpanzer Leopard) is a main battle tank designed by Porsche and manufactured by Krauss-Maffei in West Germany, first entering service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard design focused on effective firepower and mobility instead of heavy protection. It featured moderate armour, only effective against low caliber autocannons and heavy machine guns, giving it a high power-to-weight ratio. This, coupled with a modern suspension and drivetrain, gave the Leopard superior mobility and cross-country performance compared to most other main battle tanks of the era, only being rivaled by the French AMX-30 and Swedish Strv 103. The main armament of the Leopard consisted of a German license-built version of the British Royal Ordnance L7 105 mm rifled gun, one of the most effective and widespread tank guns of the era. The Leopard 2 has replaced the Leopard 1 in service with many other nations.

Greece bought its first 104 Leopard 1A3 GR tanks during 1983–1984. They are actually Leopard 1A3s, but came with an EMES 12A3 FCS and some other modifications required by the Greek army at that time. During 1992, the Greek army received a batch of 75 Leopard 1A5 as offsets for the construction of four MEKO 200 frigates. Some months later, Greece received another batch of 170 Leopard 1V and 2 Leopard 1A5 from the Royal Netherlands army – the Leopard 1V is actually an 1A1A4 with an EMES 12A3 AFSL-2 FCS. Greece received a batch of 150 Leopard 1A5s along with the newly built Leopard 2A6 HEL. As of 2011, Greece is the largest user of Leopard 1 tanks, having over 500 Leopard 1A5 GR MBTs as well as many ST, Biber and Leguan versions. Greece is negotiating with Germany to supply nearly 100 of their Leopard 1A5s to Ukraine in exchange for these being backfilled on a one-to-one basis with Italian Leopard 1A5 tanks purchased from Swiss company RUAG and refurbished and upgraded by Rheinmetall.

Hellenic Army Plans Leopard 1A5 HEL Main Battle Tank Upgrade
Hellenic Army Leopard 1A5 HEL Main Battle Tank (MBT). (Photo by EODH)

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