Armor: Canada Gets a Scarier Tank

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April 5, 2007: Last year, Canada sent 17 of its Leopard 1 tanks to Afghanistan, to give Canadian troops there some extra firepower against the Taliban. But as the warm weather approaches, the lack of air conditioning in these elderly tanks is seen as a major problem for the crews. The age of the tanks is a factor as well, so Canada has made arrangements with Germany, the manufacturer of the Leopard, to lease twenty of the most modern version of the tank, the Leopard 2A6M. Canada is the last nation using the Leopard 1. The A6M has considerably better protection against mines, roadside bombs and RPG rockets. The 62 ton Leopard 2 has a 120mm main gun and two 7.62mm machine-guns. The 43 ton Leopard 1 has a 105mm gun, and is actually a little slower (65 kilometers an hour) than the Leopard 2. Both tanks have a four man crew. Germany is selling off some of its Leopard 2s, and is offering Canada 80 of them at a bargain price (to be negotiated, but brand new, they cost $6 million each). . Apparently Canada wants to try out the Leopard 2 via the lease, before making the lease decision. If Canada is to maintain a tank force, it needs new vehicles. The Leopard 1s are showing their age, especially with the workout they are getting in Afghanistan.

Some Canadian legislators are inclined to do without tanks, but Canadian military experts point out that these combat vehicles can be useful in peacekeeping operations. Not only are they impervious to most weapons, but they scare the hell out of the enemy. The Leopard 2, introduced in the 1980s, is somewhat scarier than the 1960s era Leopard 1.

 


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