Leclerc (tank)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Series 2 Leclerc

Series 2 Leclerc

General properties
crew 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
length 6.88 m (without BK)
9.87 m (BK at 12 o'clock)
width 3.70 m
height 2.53 m
Dimensions 56 t (series 1)
56.5 t (series 2/2 +)
Armor and armament
Armor Bulkhead composite armor
Main armament 1 × 120 mm cannon
40 rounds
Secondary armament 1 × 12.7 mm M2HB machine gun
1100 cartridges
1 × 7.62 mm machine gun
3000 cartridges
drive 8-cylinder Wärtsilä diesel engine
1100 kW (1500 hp )
suspension hydropneumatic
Top speed 72 km / h
Power / weight 20 kW / t
Range 500 km (on the road without additional tanks)
600 km (on the road with additional tanks)

The Leclerc is a battle tank manufactured by the French armaments company Nexter , named after the major general of the Second World War , Jacques-Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque . It is currently the main battle tank in the French Army and also in service with the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates . In 2011, its unit price was 9.3 million euros.

Development and construction

Prototype Foch in the Musée Général Estienne, Saumur
Series 1 Leclerc

In 1977 France began planning a completely new type of battle tank to replace the AMX-30 introduced in 1966 . This draft of the EPC (Engin Principal de Combat - Hauptkampfwagen) was intended to guarantee the French armored forces superiority over the tank models of the Warsaw Pact in the long term . A full generation of tanks, represented by the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams , should be skipped. This led to the Franco-German main battle tank 90 program. Despite an agreement on important basic questions and the experiences from the first cooperation with the Leopard 1 , the different tactical ideas again proved to be obstacles for the project. The German decision to use the developed flat tower concept on a Leopard 2 chassis was rejected by France. Disputes over the rights of use for export orders also made cooperation more difficult.

Series 2 - the two-part reinforcement of the front armor characterizes this and the following series.

The actual development of the Leclerc began in 1982 with the signing of the development contract. The total cost of 1400 vehicles was estimated at 35 billion French francs , which at the time corresponded to a unit price of 4.25 million euros. A complete division equipped with the EPC and corresponding armored recovery vehicles was planned. The second attempt at a joint battle tank with Germany was therefore considered to have failed. However, financial bottlenecks hampered development work, and it was not until 1985 that the final concept of the new tank was determined. The decision was made to use a conventional rotating tower, thus dropping the variant with a rotatable top mount. The hyperbar technology for the drive was purchased from MTU Friedrichshafen in Germany.

On January 30, 1986, the project was named Leclerc . The overall test vehicle presented in Versailles - Satory in 1987 was similar to the other western main battle tanks, but was 100 centimeters shorter due to the more compact hyperbar engine; In addition, the tower was compact and flatter, which reduces the overall height. Six further prototypes followed from 1989, although the low overall height could not be maintained during the series preparation. The first production vehicle was handed over by the armaments industry in December 1991 and, like the prototype production, was on schedule with the client. It was used by the troops from January 1992. The then Giat Industries in Roanne acted as the general contractor .

The first series 1 battle tanks were delivered until 1996 and divided into five delivery tranches (T1 to T5). The total number was 132 vehicles. The improved Series 2, consisting of 178 vehicles, followed from 1997 to 2003 and was carried out in four tranches (T6 to T9). The changes mainly concerned the software of the computer system, electrical systems and the retrofitting of an air conditioning system in the rear of the tower. The last 96 Leclerc (T10 to T11) for the French army belonged to the series 2+ and 3 respectively and had improved armor, a command and control information system of the ICONE type and more powerful thermal imaging devices of the third generation of the IRIS TGS type for gunner and Commander. The vehicles ordered in 2001 were delivered by 2005. This expansion stage is also referred to as Leclerc S XXI by the manufacturer. The Leclerc of series 1 from tranche 3 to tranche 5 were upgraded to series 2 during this time. The tanks of the pre-series (T1 and T2) have not been in service since then. Five of the vehicles of the Tranche 3 were to Bergepanzer Moyen Adapté de Remorquage Spécifique converted (MARS).

France planned to procure a total of 420 Leclerc in two lots of 310 and 110 each. By 2006, the French army actually took over 406 tanks, so the last batch was no longer fully delivered. The originally planned 1400 vehicles were not achieved. The order was worth 40 billion French francs and in 2002 was equivalent to around 4 million US dollars per vehicle. The fleet still comprised 254 units in 2011, a financial report of the National Assembly from 2016 listed a stock of 200 renovated Leclerc.

The tank's first foreign customer was the United Arab Emirates , who purchased a total of 388 Leclerc, two driving school vehicles and an additional 46 Leclerc armored recovery vehicles for $ 3.8 billion between 1994 and 1999. Saudi Arabia planned to acquire up to 355 Leclerc but opted for the American M1 Abrams. In 1993 he was defeated by the Leopard 2 during the troop trials of the Swedish military as part of the MBT-2000 program.

The Leclerc is designed as a family of tanks. The armored recovery vehicle DNG (Dépanneur Nouvelle Génération ) and the pioneer EPG (Engin Principal du Génie) are based on its chassis . An armored rapid bridge was designed by Giat in the initial phase, but has not been offered since 2004. The PTG (Poseur de Travure du Génie) was equipped with the LEGUAN bridge system.

technical description


Main weapon and ammunition

Like other NATO main battle tanks, the Leclerc is armed with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon, although this is the first time that a Western tank does not use a loader. The 52 caliber long cannon of the type CN 120-26 / 52 is fully stabilized and was designed by GIAT without a smoke evacuator ; the flue gases are blown out by compressed air. The pipe elevation is −8 degrees to +15 degrees. A protective pipe cover prevents the temperature from being influenced by rain, snow or sun. At the end of the tube there is a collimator for the automatically and continuously working field adjustment system.

The loading machine in the rear of the tower is designed as a belt loader with a constant loading angle, which also works when driving at full speed in difficult terrain. With it, the crew reaches a rate of fire of twelve rounds per minute. The ammunition supply in the tape loader is 22 ready-to-use ammunition cartridges and is separated from the fighting compartment by a steel sliding door . Due to the design, the projectile head of the ammunition points towards the combat area. Storage is fully automated by a barcode on the ammunition. If the ammunition is not provided with a barcode, the respective type must be entered by the operator using a keypad when the magazine is reloaded. Another 18 cartridges are in the revolver magazine to the right of the driver. During the loading process, the cannon automatically assumes a fixed loading position of −1.8 degrees. A reloading process takes around four to six seconds, depending on the ammunition slot. If the automatic system fails, it can also be reloaded manually. The system is able to differentiate between six types of ammunition.

The whole range of NATO ammunition manufactured in accordance with STANAG 4385 can be fired with the smooth barrel cannon . The ammunition developed for France by GIAT (now Nexter ) is limited to the following types: The sub-caliber tungsten carbide balancing projectile with tracer (APFSDS-T) of type OFL 120 F1 corresponds to the German LKE 1 or DM43 and is a joint development with Germany. The ammunition is supplemented by the OFL 120 F2, a projectile with depleted uranium as a penetrator. The muzzle velocity of both projectiles is 1790 m / s with the CN 120. The OECC 120 F1 serves as a multi-purpose ammunition. This is a shaped charge projectile with a tracer for light ground targets and slow, low-flying air targets. The international name is HEAT-MP-T for High Explosive Anti Tank Multi-Purpose Tracer. At the end of 2003 GIAT developed the OE 120 F1, an HE grenade for combat distances of up to 5000 meters. A year earlier in June 2002, the development of a top attack ammunition was started. The bullet with the designation Polynege thus allows the fight against the weakly armored top of the tank. The range is 8000 meters. The warhead has a projectile- forming charge and a semi-active laser working in the infrared range for target acquisition.

Secondary armament

The secondary armament consists of a 7.62 mm AA-52 machine gun on the turret roof and a 12.7 mm Browning M2HB installed axially parallel to the left of the main cannon . 1100 cartridges are carried for the 12.7 mm MG and 3000 cartridges for the 7.62 mm MG. In contrast, the armed forces of the UAE use a remote-controlled weapon station on the tower roof. The GALIX self-protection and smoke throw system is installed on the rear sides of the tower . The throwing cups in caliber 80 millimeters are integrated into the armor. The system is able to fire fog, splinter, tear gas, flares or IR decoys.

Optics, fire control and aiming equipment

The Leclerc's cannon cover with a pitot tube for the turret machine gun. Above the smooth-barreled cannon is the exit for the field adjustment system. The SAGEM HL-70 panoramic periscope on the tower roof.
Gunnery Area
View of the gunner optics. Thermal image channel in the round window. Day vision and laser in the window next to it.
Commander's place

The sensor equipment of the Leclerc is state-of-the-art; it accounts for almost half of the production costs. The entire weapon and fire control system is digitally networked. The commander and gunner can constantly access all values ​​such as target distance, own position, speed or weather via monitors. All the main operating elements of the tower crew are redundantly designed to prevent total failure in the event of damage. The fire control system enables six targets to be attacked within 35 seconds, with the Leclerc battlefield system not attacking any target twice by the train. An average fighting process takes between five and six seconds with a first-shot hit probability of 95 percent. However, this state-of-the-art technology requires a high level of technical skill from the crew and has not yet been used under real combat conditions.

The gunner's main aiming device is the SAGEM HL-60, which is mechanically coupled to the main weapon. The optics, which are stabilized in two axes by gyroscopes , have a day vision channel with 3.3 and 10 times magnification, a video channel with 10 times magnification, a thermal imaging channel and a laser range finder of the type HL-58. The thermal imaging device with 3, 6, 10 and 20 times magnification allows you to see targets up to a distance of 5000 meters. Main battle tanks of the UAE use the further development HL-80. An emergency target optics is not installed. Corner mirrors allow observation of the surroundings to the right.

The commander has with the stabilized Rundblickperiskop SAGEM HL-70 has its own look, which can be rotated 360 degrees. The 2.5x and 10x magnification allows you to work independently from the gunner and make targets at a distance of 4000 meters. It has a residual light amplifier for tracking and fighting at night . The view is binocular, but the right view only shows digital information such as loaded ammunition, distance to the target or position of the turret and hull. The image of the gunner can only be displayed on a monitor and is usually used for surveillance. Variants of the UAE and the last series of the French Leclerc are equipped with a thermal imaging device and laser rangefinder. Eight further corner mirrors allow a battlefield observation from all sides under armor protection.

The directional handle of the commander and the gunner have multiple functions and have a safety device that prevents unintentional firing. The tower is pivoted by moving the directional handle horizontally. This movement is supported by two lockable armrests, which allow you to calm down. The distance measurement is triggered by briefly pressing the trigonometry key. If this is pressed for longer than three seconds, the automatic target tracking is active. This works on the principle of extrapolation (which collects data about the movement of the target in the last three seconds), calculates a course from this and continues it. However, this only works if the target is moving at the same speed on a straight course. After three seconds of target tracking, the gunner need only continue tracking the target if it changes direction or speed.

The driver has three corner mirrors, of which the left and right mirrors are equipped with a de-icing system. The middle corner mirror is also provided with a display for the tower position. A reversing camera is available with the Series 2.

Management and communication tools

A Series 2 Leclerc off-road.

The Leclerc's radio equipment consists of two radio devices that support frequency hopping and enable data transmission, voice and data encryption. This equipment is supplemented by an on-board communication system, an outboard intercom, a GPS-supported inertial navigation system and the Leclerc battlefield system (LBMS), which has been replaced by FINDERS and the ICONE extension over the course of the period of use. With the help of the battlefield command system, the operations of Leclerc tanks in the group can be coordinated; in addition, it enables every commander to always find out about the position and status of the other units. Any position data and destinations are automatically updated by the system, with the status of the vehicle being transmitted to the next higher management level. The connection to the regiment command system SIR (Système d'Information Régimentaire) is guaranteed at ICONE via the Melissa interface module.

Armor and protection

Like all other modern battle tanks, the Leclerc has multi-layered so-called composite armor, the exact composition of which is subject to confidentiality. Presumably ceramics , kevlar and various types of steel are used in it. According to a publication by one of the co-developers of the Leclerc armor, it was not originally of the Chobham type . The construction corresponds to a bulkhead construction with composite armor blocks and offers protection against impact and explosive projectiles. The modular design allows a relatively easy exchange. The basic steel armor also has a load-bearing function.

In Series 2 and 2+, armor protection was further strengthened, but the combat weight was not increased. This was achieved through a system based on titanium inserts . Further measures such as a friend-foe detection system, multispectral camouflage equipment and distance-active protective measures in the softkill and hardkill area are being developed and were presented by GIAT using the example of the Leclerc 2010 and Leclerc 2015 demonstrators.

The NBC protective ventilation system in the hull used in Series 1 was replaced by a combined NBC / cooling system from Series 2 and, together with the air conditioning in the rear of the tower, improved the crew's stay in the tank. At the same time, the efficiency of the electronics was increased. The UAE Leclerc are equipped with a mechanical air conditioning system in the tub.

The engine's combustion exhaust gases are cooled to lower the heat signature. A swiveling pipe on the exhaust grating allows the exhaust gas jet to be directed in any direction.

Drive and drive

The Leclerc's hyperbaric engine

With its dimensions, the Leclerc is the smallest western battle tank of the fourth post-war generation. This reduction in silhouette was mainly made possible by the development of a compact engine block with a so-called hyperbar engine and the elimination of the fourth man of the crew. Compared to the US M1 Abrams , 25% interior volume could be saved. The Leclerc therefore gets by with only six castors on each side, which are hydropneumatically sprung. However, due to the six rollers, the specific ground pressure is higher than that of other battle tanks.

The hyperbaric engine V8X-1500 with flanged automatic gearbox ESM 500 consists of a combination of diesel engine and gas turbine , whereby the compressor stage of the turbine supplies the pre-compressed combustion air for the diesel engine. This avoids the typical “ turbo lag ” of diesel engines operated with exhaust gas turbochargers, which gives the vehicle excellent acceleration capabilities, since the engine can start at full torque from low speeds. The displacement is 16.47 liters and enables a top speed of 72 km / h. The initial technical problems of the hyperbar unit, whose compactness was bought at the price of an extremely high degree of complexity, could only be resolved with the Series 2. The main cause was considered to be an engine control system that was too sensitive to fuel contamination. The overstressing of the side transmission and the resulting high oil temperatures made it necessary to install additional oil coolers . Lowering the idle speed from 1100 to 900 rpm reduced fuel consumption. The gas turbine also serves as a power generator (APU) and, with its starter generator, can also supply around 250 A to the 24 V on-board network. The oil-cooled 650 A main generator is located on the diesel engine itself. The average consumption of the Leclerc fleet under the conditions of a troop test of the Swedish army with 1380 liters per 100 kilometers was well above that of the Leopard 2 with 720 liters.

The ESM 500 with five forward and two reverse gears is designed as a manual, steering and braking gear. The steering is hydrodynamic and therefore dependent on the engine speed and speed. The braking system is supported by a wear-free hydraulic flow brake (hydrodynamic retarder ).

The fuel supply of the Leclerc holds a total of 1300 liters and can be expanded by 400 liters using two external additional tanks at the rear. However, this measure is only carried out in relatively safe situations such as troop transfers; The tanks are not used in combat situations. Once the tanks are installed, the fuel they contain is removed first.

For export to the Arab states with their desert regions, the Leclerc was equipped with a separate air filter and fresh air system. The hyperbar engine was replaced by a conventional engine with the same performance. The MTU Euro-Powerpack MT-883 Ka-500 with exhaust gas turbocharging, combined with the automatic transmission HSWL 295 TM from Renk , met the requirements of the UAE for a reliable engine, but required an extension of the hull, as the Euro-Powerpack had the overall length of the hyperbar motor exceeds 30 centimeters. The additional storage space is used for a larger fuel reserve, which is reflected in an enlarged driving area. The side gears have been modified and do not require an additional oil cooler. The power generator set is attached to the outside of the vehicle. The engine concept is also used in the recovery and pioneer tanks of the Leclerc series.

Brief overview of variants

  • Series 1 (1992–1996)
  • Series 2 (1997-2003); Combined ABC / cooling system, separate cooling system in the tower, oil cooler for side gear, rear view camera for driver, dirt deflector edge on the bow, improved batteries, corner mirror position 6 o'clock for commander.
  • Series 2 + / 3 (2003-2005); ICONE guidance system, generation 3 thermal imaging device for commander and gunner, laser rangefinder in the panoramic periscope, improved armor
  • Engin Principal du Génie - EPG; Engineer tank on a Leclerc chassis. Can be equipped with mine clearance (K2D mine plow and magnetic field simulator, explosive mine clearance system PW-LWD) and mine throwing systems (MINOTAUR).
  • Depanneur Nouvelle Génération - DNG; Armored recovery vehicle on a Leclerc chassis. Like the EPG, it can be equipped with mine clearance and mine throwing devices.
  • Moyen Adapté de Remorquage Spécifique - MARS; Temporary solution for an armored recovery vehicle based on Series 1. Cannon and optics have been removed. The rescue gear is stowed at the rear.
  • TROP à l'origine - Leclerc EAU; Variant of the UAE. MTU engine, improved side skirts, armor and electronics. Mechanical air conditioning in the tub. Remote controlled weapon station on the tower roof.
  • Action en Zone Urbaine - AZUR; Variant for MOUT missions (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) - local and urban combat .


See also


  • Marc Chassilan: Char Leclerc: De la guerre froide aux conflits de demain. Boulogne-Billancourt 2005 (extensive French-language book on the technology and history of Leclerc).
  • Stefan Marx: LECLERC - The French battle tank of the 21st century. Jochen Vollert-Tankograd Publishing, Erlangen 2005.
  • Rolf Hilmes: Main battle tanks today and tomorrow. Motorbuchverlag Stuttgart, 2007, ISBN 978-3-613-02793-0 .

Web links

Commons : Leclerc  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  2. a b c d Stefan Marx: LECLERC - The French battle tank of the 21st century. Jochen Vollert-Tankograd Publishing, Erlangen 2005.
  3.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  4. ^ Assemblée Nationale - Avis. National Assembly of the French Parliament, accessed July 8, 2018 (French, notice of the National Assembly).
  5. a b Rolf Hilmes: Main battle tanks today and tomorrow. Motorbuchverlag Stuttgart, 2007, ISBN 978-3-613-02793-0 , pp. 40 to 42.
  6. 120 mm Nexter ammunition for Leclerc tank gun (France), Tank and anti-tank guns , Brief overview of Jane's Ammunition Handbook for the ammunition range, accessed on January 22, 2011
  7. Nexter Munitions 120 mm Polynege guided projectile (France), Gun-launched guided projectiles , brief overview Jane's Ammunition Handbook for 120 mm Polynege, accessed on January 22, 2011