Inside Look at Leopard 2 In Combat

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Leopard 2 in combat has been an interesting topic. While being a potent tank, it has not seen a lot of combat during its service life before Ukraine. Every time a new wave of requests or news comes around of Ukraine or someone else looking to get some Leopard 2s, the comment sections or Twitter replies are filled with the pictures below. These are from the ill-fated Turkish attack in Northern Syria. Atleast 12-20 Leopard 2A4s were lost in the conflict, some abandoned, some lost to missiles and some blown up by the Turkish air force to avoid capture. This made me think, why not cover the combat experience of Leopard 2, so here it is.

I will cover the two major deployments of Leopard 2 family which provide a meaningful coverage of its protections and its limitations. These two deployments are to Afghanistan, covering the usage of Canada and Denmark in the country and second deployment being usage of Turkish Leopards in Northern Syria.

Afghanistan Experience

The distinction here is the importance of the mine protection kit used by the Canadians on their short term loans for usage in Afghanistan and after the deployment more were bought to replace older Leopard 1s variants. The Canadians went for the M variant Leopard 2A6s which had an updated mine resistant kit deployed on it. It detached the driver from the hull and kept them safe from explosion that passed a shockwave through the hull.


There experience was no crew losses happened in Afghanistan due to being struck by IEDs. The Danes brought in non-mine upgraded variants and suffered a few IED hits and driver casualties during their deployments. This was by no way a peer conflict but the IED example here is to point out is that Leopard 2 like all systems has its flaws.

Syrian Adventure

This is what you are here for, right? Why did Turkish Leopards were blown up like T-72s and T-55s in the region that we have been seen for years. Leopard 2A4s are better than those tanks and why were they still blown up you ask. The answer is simple, the same mistakes were made in this case as well leading to the same imagery of tanks being blown up.

First was that Leopard 2A4s were a slightly older variant, lacking the wedge shaped add on armor of the Leopard 2A5, 2A6 and the 2A7s we see today. This variant was designed for conflicts in the open plains of Europe and especially in the defensive posture against Soviet tanks rolling down by the hundreds. In any built up areas, this usage doctrine is thrown out the commander’s hatch and you need infantry for protection.

The Leopard 2A4s were targetted by ATGMs because they lacked infantry screen. The Turks were working with affiliated militas to provide grunts on the ground. Given the lack of communication or proper communication between them, the infantry was not clearing spaces ahead of the tank to roll in and suppress heavier threats it excels in. So the issue was not with the tank but again with the tactics. A lot of the ripped apart gear was attributed to abandoned tanks being bombed by their air force to avoid capture and usage against the Turks.

Achilles Heel of Tanks

It has been and will always be infantry tactics. If the infantry isnt working properly, walking behind the tank always with buildings near by and not actively engaging the enemy in front of the tank to suppress it, an ATGM will soon find the tank. You need infantry fighting vehicles to haul the infantry and evacuate them if the fighting gets tougher than they can manage. Add air power in and you have a tank, supported by sister regiments all using the strengths of each other and covering the weakness of each other.

The Ukrainians, in all public source videos have shown that their infantry is well drilled and they know their tactics. Will there be Leopard losses if sent to Ukraine, yes surely! But will it be as bad as their adversaries in the same conflict, thats a resounding NO!




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