Land Forces

Latest Leopard 2A7 MBTs Deployed to Poland for the First Time

Danish Leopard 2A7 MBTs back in Denmark.
Photo. Magnus Terp / Forsvaret

Denmark has sent a company of modernized Leopard 2A7 main battle tanks to take part in the Defender Europe exercise that is taking place in Poland. This is the first time ever, when these MBTs would be taking part in training on a Polish range.

The Danish company of 14 MBTs has been sent to Poland on board a cargo ship, along with a British King's Royal Hussars regiment. Soon, those MBTs would be involved in the Defender Europe 2022 exercise - most probably in the portions of the scenario taking place in Drawsko Pomorskie. The range in Drawsko Pomorskie is now hosting Polish elements (of the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, using Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2PL MBTs), and German units (Marder IFVs).

The Danish unit would be working closely with the British, during the exercise planned between 1st and 27th May. This year, the Danish MBTs would also be a part of another rotation of the NATO eFP (enhanced Forward Presence) elements in Estonia. Both the Defender Europe 2022 exercise, as well as the Danish Presence in Estonia had been preplanned, and they are in no way related to the current political circumstances.

Noteworthy, one should recall that in the light of the increased levels of threat that Russia poses towards NATO, in the wake of the War in Ukraine Denmark decided to assign a mechanized combat group to NATO command; the said element has already been deployed to Latvia. The said unit is however detached from the element involved in the Defender Europe 2022 exercise.

The Danish involvement in this year's edition of the Defender Europe exercise is important for one more reason. This is the first time when the latest Leopard 2 MBTs, the Leopard 2A7 vehicles, would be engaged in an exercise taking place on a Polish range. Leopard 2A7 MBTs have been showcased during the MSPO events in Kielce by KMW many times, never however were these engaged in exercises. Leopard 2A6 vehicle, meanwhile, is the latest variant of the Bundeswehr's MBTs that was present in the Polish training ranges.

Denmark decided to upgrade its Leopard 2A5DK vehicles to the Leopard 2A7DK standard back in 2016. Back then, a contract was signed with KMW, pertaining to an upgrade of 38 vehicles in total, with a net price tag of EUR 112.6 million. The Agreement was annexed twice, in 2019; its value went up to EUR 176 million, VAT excluded. This was a result of an increase in the number of tanks up to 44.

Danish Leopard 2A7 MBT - onboard a ship.
Photo. Magnus Terp / Forsvaret

The scope of modernization has been quite broad. Nonetheless, the previously released information had not been pointing to a situation in which all of the aforesaid vehicles would be brought up to a homogeneous standard. The Leopard 2A7DK MBTs feature a new L55 gun capable of firing programmable rounds, and new generation sabot rounds offering higher penetration performance. The ballistic/IED/mine protection levels have been heightened, thus resulting in a higher combat weight of 68 tonnes. The suspension has also been tailored to the new weight, complying with the MLC 77 class.

Another important change, in comparison to the Leopard 2A5DK, comes in a form of the integration of a BMS suite. Observation systems have also been upgraded - now the optoelectronics include Attica thermal imagers. The fire control system has been modernized as well. Furthermore, the MBT's electronics have been replaced. The MBT now features a new mobile camouflage solution, a new ABC-weapons protection system, or a new APU.

The Danish Leopard 2A5DK MBTs have been considered to be one of the most advanced vehicles - from 2007 until 2014 they have seen combat in Afghanistan. These MBTs have had their armor reinforced, as opposed to the Leopard 2A5 base platform. Copenhagen decided, however, to implement further upgrades anyway. This resulted in the creation of a very modern MBT. On the other hand, this entailed some costs and compromise. The above refers to the use of a modernized Leopard 2A5 (not 2A4, as in Poland). Meanwhile, the KMW contract alone, following the 2019 annexation, entails a net cost of EUR 4 million per single MBT. The whole project's cost, involving 44 MBTs, is defined as more than 200 to 270 million euros. The MBT's weight went up to 68 tonnes as a result. The first delivery of the Danish Leopard 2A7DK MBTs took place in parallel to the commissioning of the first Leopard 2A7V in the Bundeswehr, back in 2019.

Notably, the Danish Leopard MBTs have already been a part of the Saber Strike exercises in Poland - back then, they came in the 2A5DK variant. Now, a newer version of the MBT returns.