Armor: May 14, 2001

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The German Army had originally planned to field the New Generation Platform which would have a new main battle tank to replace Leopard-2, a new air defense vehicle to replace Gepard, and a new infantry fighting vehicle to replace the Marder-1. With the cancellation of this program, the German Army decided to upgrade existing Leopard-2s to Leopard-2A6s, and to provide improvements for the Gepard. The Marder-1, however, is regarded as too out of date to upgrade. It's 20mm cannon (mounted in a two-man turret) is too small to deal with modern targets. So the Germans have now begun designing the Schutzenpanzer-3 to replace the Marder. This will probably mount the Rheinmetall-503 cannon, which is a unique design. (It fires a 35mm bottleneck cartridge. By changing the barrel and chamber, it can fire a straightwall 50mm cartridge. The two cartridges are the same overall size and fit in the same ammo bins and ammo feed systems. This would allow the weapon to be upgraded quickly if new threats evolve.) The Leopard-2A6 upgrade program continues, and a new Leopard-2A6Ex upgrade package, which adds an auxiliary power unit, additional armor, and a battle management system has been developed. This package is being offered to Turkey and may be offered to those countries upgrading to Leopard-2A6.--Stephen V Cole

 


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