Defence Systems Daily: Germany's Leopard 2 remains the world's best tank
The Pentagon's gas turbine-powered M1 Abrams may be the first tank that comes to the minds of most Americans, but overall, Germany's Leopard 2 is the world's best. In a new analysis of the world tank market, Forecast International/ DMS finds that, based on an overall comparison in terms of lethality, fightability, mobility and survivability, the Leopard 2A6EX comes out on top. The annual tank analysis and ranking, the only one of its type available from open sources, is a product of Forecast International's Weapon Group.
Although the Leopard 2A6EX ranked above the M1 Abrams (in the A2 system enhancement package model), the gap between the two tanks remains exceedingly small. In this year's survey, the deciding factor was the Leopard 2's 55-calibre version of the Rh 120mm tank cannon and the formidable DM 53 long rod penetrating ammunition. The Abrams is slated to receive the same cannon, but not for several years.
New and improved fire control components, the addition of an auxiliary power unit, as well as overall performance helped push the Leopard 2 A6EX ahead of the M1A2 system enhancement package model in Forecast International's latest ranking. Even so, the M1A2 system enhancement package, which is bringing all M1 tanks to a single improved level, represents a major enhancement to the Abrams' already formidable proven fighting ability. Indeed, based on its superior performance during the Persian Gulf War, the Abrams stands at the head of the ranking in terms of combat performance.
In addition, the vacillating Russians aside, the M1 is still the only tank in production that firmly uses a vehicular gas turbine as its prime mover. The US Army recently selected the General Electric LV-100 vehicular gas turbine to re-power the Abrams.
Coming in at third place in the rankings is Japan's highly sophisticated Type 90, an amalgamation of German tank technology and Japanese expertise in advanced electronics. The Type 90 is followed by the Leclerc of France and the United Kingdom's Challenger 2, both in their latest versions.
Making a significant rise in the rankings this year is Israel's Merkava in the latest Mark III Baz model. Contributing to this rise in the standings is the enhanced armour protection and greatly improved fire control components of this latest version of the Merkava.
The latest analysis and ranking again has the omnipresent Russian tanks falling short of their Western counterparts, despite some recent major improvements as well as the continued lead by the Russians in active defence systems.
Forecast International/ DMS Inc is a leading provider of market intelligence and analyses in the areas of aerospace, defence, power systems and military electronics and specialises in long-range industry forecasts.