Until recently battle tank “Leopard 2” was surrounded by the myth of its invincibility. Neither during their use in Kosovo, during the fighting in Afghanistan, none of them was lost. In Afghanistan, one tank “Leopard” canadian armed forces stepped on a big mine planted by the Taliban, but the crew survived.
Now, however, the myth of the invincibility of tanks “Leopard” was dispelled. For the first time in history during the battle the Turkish armed forces near the Syrian town of al-Bab was lost a few tanks “Leopard 2” — and it happened because the militants of the terrorist group “Islamic state” have used their one weak spot.
According to preliminary data, the militants of the Islamic state killed 10 Turkish tanks “Leopard 2A4”. Twitter models of these tanks displayed with their alpha-numeric designations, and, in addition, subject to their photos.
Although official confirmation about the loss of 10 tanks yet, experts in their loss no doubt. German manufacturer and General contractor company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) refuses to comment on the issue.
If the tank “Leopard 2” for urban fighting?
Among specialists the question of the loss of tanks “Leopard” began to be discussed until the New year. They say that six out of ten tanks were destroyed by Russian anti-tank missile system “cornet”. In the blog of experts www. augengeradeaus. net have also commented about the lack of experience of the Turkish military in respect of the use of tanks.
However, the debate about the loss of the “Leopards” is a fundamental question — does all this 60-ton battle tank for use in an urban environment, and how it needs to be protected. The main concept of the tank “Leopard” was developed at a time when the enemy was supposed to meet directly ahead. This opinion is shared by many States against the large battle tanks, including even the most modern Russian tank T-14 “Armata”.
These heavy tracked machine is designed for tank duels, and as they are protected only in front and at a slight angle from the side. Since the Russian anti-tank missile complex “Kornet” breaks even armor thickness of 1.2 meters, the tank is relatively vulnerable in those places where it’s less protected.
Tanks “Leopard 2” was attacked from behind and from the side
In the fighting in the Syrian city of al Bab, as reported, made about 30 years ago tanks “Leopard” that are arming the Turkish army, was mostly attacked from behind, and in some cases on the side, and used antitank systems. In places these huge caterpillar machine just to a lesser extent protected. Military agree on what fighting in the city cannot be compared to fighting in a big open space where the tanks are firing on targets located in most cases at a distance of more than two or three kilometers.
Published in 2006 the study of American experts (Breaking the Mold: Tanks in the Cities), States that “tanks are a dangerous weapon on an open battlefield”, but they are “exceptionally vulnerable in close proximity to the city.” For example, Russian in 1994 during the Chechen war, suffered huge losses in tanks in Grozny. Therefore, according to the authors, should avoid “the use of large armored units in urban combat”.
Turkish tanks missing dynamic protection
According to the specialized magazine Europäische Sicherheit und Technik, losses of tanks “Leopard” in Syria due to the fact that they did not have additionally, no so-called reactive armor or active protection.
If to speak about dynamic protection, then the steel body of the tank set extra plates or the cell elements the size of a brick filled with explosives. Basically, what’s happening is this: when the projectile is in contact with the dynamic protection is a “counter blast” that weaken its impact. In addition, there are not based on the explosion, but, nevertheless, effective ways of dynamic protection using composite materials reinforced with special fibres.
However, the lack of active protection is the fact that as a result, the tank becomes much heavier, and in the case of the explosion can hurt nearby soldiers. According to this magazine, the Islamic state militants in their attacks on the Turkish “Leopards” in Syria “has used anti-tank systems of Soviet or Russian origin, and released them from the shells pierced the tower, then inside the tank was an explosion of ammunition”.
Followed by a warning: “Leopards” of the Bundeswehr also vulnerable, like the Turkish, because they have no active protection”.
The Bundeswehr uses a modern version of “Leopard 2”
However, in responding to a question, representatives of the Ministry of defence announced that a new model battle tank of the Bundeswehr “Leopard A7V” with its more modern composite reservation has a much higher level of protection in comparison with previous model “Leopard 2A4”, which is not already used by German ground forces. The details regarding the booking were not provided. However, it was said that modern tanks “Leopard” in the framework provided for their use have “sufficient protection, and, in addition, they provided mobility and speed.”
In fact, for the past decades, there has been a competition between manufacturers of tanks and anti-tank complexes, and we are talking about how these steel colossi to protect or to destroy. The feature of the defense industry is in the fact that some manufacturers of tanks at the same time developing ways and means for their destruction.
Competition between manufacturers of tanks and anti-tank systems
For example, in this regard, we can mention the company General Dynamics, the manufacturer of American tanks “Abrams” or the newly established German-French concern KMW + Nexter Defense Systems N. V. (KNDS), which produces tanks “Leopard” and “Leclerc”, and the Rheinmetall firm, producing guns for tanks “Leopard”. On the other, and on the other side is the Israeli-German defense company Dynamit Nobel, which produces anti-tank complexes, as well as developing modern dynamic protection on the basis of fiber-reinforced composite materials.
Manufacturers of tanks has also developed special versions of their giants with special protection, which are designed for combat operations in the city, when the enemy is able to attack them from all sides. However, according to experts, battle tanks are not suitable for fighting in urban environments.
In addition, the new version of “Leopard” is made using a special composite armor from various materials, including, as they say, the ceramic particles but yet they do not have the so-called dynamic protection. This kind of protective plate used, for example, in the production of Russian, Israeli and American tanks. The city-state of Singapore, the owner of the largest Park “Leopard 2”, equipped their combat vehicles with additional modular composite booking, developed by the German company IBD Deisenroth.
Special combat vehicle for the city
In the defense industry experts are already thinking about how the future will look like tanks, which can be used in the city. Some experts in this field believe that it is necessary to develop a special combat vehicle for urban areas. Tankostroitelnye the Russian company “Uralvagonzavod” has already introduced the concept of this kind of tank we are talking about the BMPT “Terminator”.
And the new German armored infantry Puma produced jointly by KMW and Rheinmetall already has as a complement the dynamic protection. According to experts, the new battle tank, which will be created to replace the “Leopard”, is expected to have active protection.
In this case, guided missiles and fired from very close range anti-tank missiles will be destroyed on approach. Experts say the hardkill systems, able to react in milliseconds. New supertank the Bundeswehr needs to after 2030.
Israel uses tanks active protection
Israel has long been aware of the problem associated with the use of armoured fighting vehicles in the urban environment. After the recent operations in Lebanon (2006) even the most modern tanks of the type “Merkava MK. IV” was badly damaged guided anti-tank missiles, the military began to forcefully develop an active protection system.
In 2011, Israel was to equip the armored personnel carriers Namer and Merkava tanks with active protection systems Trophy, produced by Rafael. This system weighs less than the dynamic protection, and, according to experts, it is capable to protect the tanks from destruction in such conditions, as it was in Syria.