June 25, 2010:
German tank manufacturer KMW has revealed the latest version of its Leopard 2 tank, Leopard 2A7+. Last year, the German Army announced that it was going to upgrade 150 of its Leopard 2A6 tanks to the A7 standard. That would include more armor on the sides and rear (especially to protect against (RPGs), more external cameras (so the crew inside could see anything in any direction, day or night), a remote control machine-gun station on top of the turret, better fire control and combat control computers and displays, more powerful auxiliary power unit and better air conditioning, and numerous other minor improvements. This would increase the weight of the tank to nearly 70 tons.
The Leopard 2A7+ has added improvements to mobility (engine, track laying system, wheels and related gear), better sound proofing for the crew, more, and better, thermal sights, and more effective ammunition for the 120mm gun (fragmentation shells that detonate above or behind a target). Non-lethal ammo has also been developed for the Leopard 2A7+. KMW also plans to begin work on Leopard 3 this decade.
The 55 ton Leopard 2A6 is the latest current version, and is a contemporary of the American M-1. The 2A6 model has a stabilizer (for firing on the move) and a thermal imager (for seeing through night, mist and sand storms.) Germany has been selling less capable refurbed 2A4s since the 1990s (after the Cold War ended and the German army was much reduced in size.) This enabled many nations to inexpensively upgrade their aging armored forces. In the last decade, many nations have upgraded to the A6 standard. Many nations prefer to continue upgrading their Leopards, mainly because there are no new tanks to buy. Thus the appeal of an upgrade to the Leopard 2A7+ standard.