For more than 40 years, the AMX-13 (upgraded to SM-1) was the mainstay of Our Army's armoured force. This is set to change as Minister for Defence, Mr Teo Chee Hean, announced on 11 December 2006 plans for the purchase of the Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tanks (MBT) from the German Armed Forces. The acquisition package will consist of 66 Leopard 2A4 tanks together with 30 spare tanks and supporting equipment. The Germany Army will be providing training on the Leopard 2 tanks for our soldiers in the later part of 2007.
When these tanks begin to enter service from 2008, they will replace some of Our Army's veteran SM1s. Minister Teo said, "MINDEF had been looking to replace the SM1s and the new tanks will be refurbished to push the Army's armour units to become a high-tech 3rd Generation Force." Commenting on the selection of the Leopard 2A4, Minister Teo added, "We looked at a number of alternatives and the German offer of refurbished Leopard tanks is a very cost-effective option for us to start replacing some of the SM1s. It has good mobility, firepower and protection, and is a good baseline for us to further upgrade the tanks for the next phase of 3rd Generation Armour."
The Leopard 2A4 will bring more punch to our armoured forces by providing greater protection, lethality and mobility. The 55.15-ton Leopard 2A4 can reach a top speed of 72km/h and has a road range of 550 km. It is a highly manoeuvrable tank as evident in its ability to easily clear vertical obstacles 1.1 metres high and trenches three metres across. Its 4-man crew are protected by spaced multi-layered armour that can deflect anti-tank weaponry. An automated fire and explosion suppression system is also incorporated for crew safety.
The Leopard 2A4's main weapon is the powerful L44 Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore gun. With an all-digital fire control system, the Leopard 2A4 can fire accurately at moving targets even as it travels across undulating terrain. Finally, the configuration of the Leopard 2A4 will provide Our Army with the flexibility to introduce future customised upgrades at an appropriate time. One important upgrade to be introduced soon is the Battlefield Management System which when installed, will enable our Leopard tanks to effectively integrate into our fighting forces.