Monday, March 03, 2008


Those damn Danes again! Motoons on the homefront, Leopards on the Afghanistan front! Until the day before yesterday I was completely unaware that the Danish Army had silently deployed 5 or 6 of the heavy Leopard 2 MBT's to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. This happened in the third week of January, and it seems that after the Battle of Musa Qala the Danes thought they'd do well to follow the Canadian example, since the latter have been using their Leopard I's with great success against the Taliban. Below you see a pic of a Danish Leopard 2 in Helmand, clad with barracuda camouflage. In performance, firepower and speed it is very comparable to the M1 Abrams tank. Actually, in 1997 the Danes looked to the M1 as a successor to their Leopard I's. That was three years after they had missed, in 1994, an opportunity to buy secondhand surplus Leopard 2A4's from the Dutch Army - the Austrian Army was quicker, and the Dutch Leopards went to the Alps. However, just when in 1997 the M1 seemed poised to make it to Europe in Danish service, the German Army, like the Dutch, decided to slim down their tank fleet, and this time the Danes quickly cut the deal: 51 used Leopard 2A4s, all produced between 1980 and 1986, were bought in December 1997 for the round summa of 780 million Danish kronen. In Denmark, the 2A4s were upgraded to A5 standard. The most visible change this involved was the turret, which before had its armour arranged - not so smartly - in a vertical plane, whereas an A5 turret reminds very much of an M1 turret, with its strongly sloped front and flanks. Furthermore "hunter-killer" capacity was enhanced as well as preparations made for an up-to-date command and control system. By the end of June 2000 the first Leo 2's were operational in the Jydske Dragonregiment (Jutland Dragoon Regiment), the sole pure armoured regiment of the Danish Army.

A few words on the history of the Leopard 2. It is a German main battle tank, until now actually the last in the line of a long and proud family of armoured "beasts" named after fierce felines, a line which started in the early forties with the famous "Tiger" tank. Leopards are produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, and since 2003 also by the Spanish Santa Bárbara Sistemas. Developed in the early 1970s as direct successors to the 40-tonne Leopard I's (still in use with the Belgian Army!) and first entering service in 1979, they are the foremost MBT in the German Army as well as in ten other European countries (and in some non-European countries as well, e.g. the Singaporean Army). To date, more than 3,480 Leopard 2s have been produced.

All models are equipped with digital fire control systems with laser range-finders, fully stabilized main gun (a 120mm Rheinmetall L55) and coaxial machinegun, and night vision equipment (the first vehicles used a Low-Light Level TV system or LLLTV, the later models thermal imaging). The tank can engage moving targets while negotiating rough terrain. It can wade through 4 meters deep water by means of a snorkel, or 1.2 meters without any preparation. Climbing capability is high and vertical obstacles over 1 meter high can be taken. At 62.2 tonnes, the Leopard 2 is powered with a turbo-charged multi-fuel V12 diesel engine producing 1,500 horsepower, good for a top speed of 72 kilometers an hour. Operational range is 550 kilometers.

Back to the Danes! Watch the arrival of the heavies in January 2008 in even more astounding giant Antonov 124's! Too bad the quality of the video is mediocre at best.

Of course, the Danish infantry did not await the arrival of the Jydske Dragonregiment to take the fight to the enemy. See them in action here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

As regular reader and commenter Mark/Tory Conservative remarked (Mark, honestly, I think Typos is a way cooler nick. No offense dude), Mark Steyn seems to have said that the European NATO troops are in Afghanistan to man the photocopy machine. As much as I admire the man, this time he got it damn wrong. That ain't photocopying. Leave that to Obama!


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