The MBT Revolution is a modular upgrade package to the Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks. It was developed by Rheinmetall. This MBT was first revealed in 2010. It is also referred as Leopard 2A4 Evolution. The Leopard 2A4 was the most widespread version of the Leopard 2. It is still used by a number of countries in large numbers. So the market for upgrades remains substantial.
The Revolution main battle tank is better suited for urban warfare and low-intensity conflicts. It is worth noting that original Leopard 2 tanks were developed during the Cold War and were intended for high intensity conflicts based on tank battles in open terrain. The tank has improved overall protection. It is fitted with new Advanced Modular Armor Protection (AMAP) composite armor package. It uses new nano-ceramics materials and modern titanium and steel alloys. This armor provides higher level of protection against wide range of threats. The AMAP armor can be done is different compositions and armor configuration depends on customer requirements. Various configurations do different jobs. Some are used for RPG attacks, the other are used for IED attacks. The tank is also fitted with a mine protection package. This MBT has a modular armor, so damaged modules can be easily replaced in field conditions. Tank is also fitted with new Rheinmetall ROSY smoke grenade dischargers. These set up a smoke screen within 0.6 seconds. Overall the Revolution MBT is less vulnerable to ambushes, RPG rounds, anti-tank missiles, improvised explosive devices and mines.
The Revolution MBT is only slightly heavier than it’s predecessor. It weights 60 t, comparing with 56.6 t of the original Leopard 2A4.
In 2010 Singapore upgraded it’s 96 ex-German Leopard 2A4 tanks with the AMAP composite armor, which is a part of the Revolution upgrade package. Upgraded tanks are known as the Leopard 2SG.
The Revolution MBT retains a fully-stabilized 120-mm / L44 smoothbore gun of the Leopard 2A4. The gun is loaded manually. It is compatible with all standard NATO 120-mm tank munitions, as well as the latest programmable HE rounds. These rounds enable to engage targets behind cover and within buildings. A total of 42 rounds are carried for the main gun. 15 rounds are stored in the turret bustle and are ready to use, while remaining rounds are stored in the hull.
The Revolution MBT is also fitted with a remotely controlled weapon station, armed with a 12.7-mm machine gun. There is also a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun.
This main battle tank is fitted with new state-of-the-art fire control system. It has improved first round hit probability. The Revolution MBT also has improved reconnaissance and observation capabilities. The commander has new 360° periscope, which gives the vehicle a hunter/killer capability. The tank is also fitted with a battlefield management system.
Vehicle has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver.
The Revolution MBT also retains the MTU MB-837 Ka501 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 500 horsepower. Vehicle is fitted with auxiliary power unit, which powers all systems when the main engine is turned off. Cross-country performance is similar to that of it’s predecessor.
Since 2011 a broadly similar upgrade programme is offered by the Aselsan of Turkey. These are referred as the Leopard 2 Next Generation. It was locally developed as a private venture to meet a possible requirement of the Turkish Army.
Modernizing Poland’s Leopard 2A4 Tanks
On May 16, 2014, the first shipment of 11 Leopard 2A5 tanks was delivered to the 34th Armored Cavalry Brigade in Zagan. The vehicles were acquired under a contract signed in November of 2013 on the procurement of armored vehicles from German Army reserves. The agreement stipulated that Poland would buy 105 used Leopard 2A5 tanks, and 14 2A4 tanks, as well as 833 items of technical and support assets, including 18 Bergepanzer 2 armored recovery vehicles, 120 Mercedes DB1017A heavy trucks, 40 Unimog U1300L heavy trucks, 40 Mercedes MB250 off-road vehicles, deep fording vehicles, and combat simulators. In 2014, Poland received 77 Leopard 2A5 tanks, 14 2A4 tanks, and 654 items of technical and support assets. According to the provisions of the agreement, before the end of 2015 the armed forces will receive the remainder of the contracted hardware, including 28 Leopard 2A5 tanks. The realization of the contract is proceeding as planned.
Another important assignment related to Leopard 2A4 tanks was the tender for the modernization and upgrading of said vehicles to their PL variant, opened in October of 2013. After the offers submitted in March of 2014 were examined, it turned out that only one out of the three contractors participating in the tender, a consortium comprising Polish companies, headed by ZM BUMAR-LABEDY S. A., will proceed to the next stage. This led to a series of problems, related primarily to the insufficient transfer of technologies, maintenance and service capabilities, and replacement part production capabilities of Polish defense manufacturers. Although negotiations continued into late 2014, the proceeding did not reach a successful conclusion. Some hope for a resolution of the deadlock may have been found in the offer submitted by BUMAR–LABEDY on December 5, 2014. The Armament Inspectorate, however, rejected the offer due to formal and factual errors and an insufficient level of Polonization. On February 17, 2015, it was announced that the tender procedure will be cancelled, and the Armament Inspectorate will initiate closed negotiations with a single company selected by the Board of the Polish Armament Group.
After the fiasco of the previous tender, a new round of negotiations between PAG and ZM “Bumar-Labedy” S. A. was launched on May 27, 2015. It will be up to Bumar to select its foreign cooperant, out of the three companies considered for the role. The first is the Turkish company Aselsan, offering the Leopard NG package. Its competitors include Rheinmetall Defence offering the MBT Revolution package, and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. The new contract would also include the establishment of a Logistics and Maintenance Center with a replacement part depot, using existing facilities owned by the Polish Armament Groups, that would provide full-spectrum maintenance and repair services for all Leopard 2 tanks currently in service with the Polish Armed Forces.
According to current plans, the Leopard 2A4 modernization contract should be awarded before the end of 2015, and the program should conclude no later than 2020, that is two years past the preliminary deadlines established by the Technical Modernization Plan. Currently, there are no plans to overhaul Leopard 2A5 tanks, and such designs should start coalescing only after the modernization of 2A4 tanks is completed. A confirmation of that particular position can be found in state secretary Czeslaw Mroczek’s reply to parliamentary interpellation no. 32753, in which Mroczek stated that any plans to modernize Leopard 2A5 tanks are out of consideration for at least the next 15 years.