Nexter Systems produced the Leclerc, a third-generation French main battle. The tank has a rich past and is named after Marshal Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, a notable commander of the Free French Forces during World War II. The French Army, the Jordanian Army, and the United Arab Emirates Army have all benefited greatly from the Leclerc since it was first deployed in 1991. After being formally incorporated into the French armed forces in 1992, the Leclerc quickly replaced the antiquated AMX-30 as the nation’s main armoured vehicle.
The tank, which is divided into several series with differing features, is a powerful weapon in combat. Its weight in Series 1 configuration is 54.5 tonnes, while its Series 2 counterpart is 56.3 tonnes, and the Series XXI version is 57.4 tonnes. The tank is 9.87 metres long (6.88 metres without the cannon), 3.60 metres wide, and 2.53 metres high. It can hold three people in its crew: a commander, a gunner, and a driver. With semi-reactive and titanium layers, the Series XXI variant’s modular composite armour improves its defensive capabilities. The GIAT CN120-26/52 120mm tank gun, backed by a magazine holding 40 rounds, provides the tank’s main weaponry. As secondary armaments, there is also a 12.7 mm coaxial M2HB machine gun with 1,100 rounds and a 7.62 mm machine gun with 3,000 rounds.
A powerful 8-cylinder V8X SACM (Wärtsilä) diesel engine producing 1,100 kW (1,500 horsepower) resides under the tank’s hood. The tank’s maximum speed on the road is 71 km/h, and its maximum speed off-road is 55 km/h. Its power-to-weight ratio is 27.52 horsepower/tonne. Due to its hydropneumatic suspension and automatic SESM gearbox, it can navigate easily over a variety of terrains. With an operational range of 550 km (342 mi) and a fuel capacity of 1300 litres (1700 litres with gasoline drums), the tank may be filled with external fuel to increase its range to 650 km (404 mi). With its ability to combine mobility, firepower, and defensive characteristics cohesively, the tank is a formidable and adaptable weapon.
There are multiple specialised variations of the Leclerc tank that are intended for different military applications. One of them is the Leclerc AZUR (Action en Zone URban), an especially modified model designed for urban combat. In addition to its improved protective package, this specialised car is well-suited to handle the difficulties of urban areas. Interestingly, an enhanced protection variant of the Leclerc, described as an up-armoured version, has made its way to Saudi Arabia via export routes.
The Leclerc series includes specialised support vehicles in addition to combat variants. To retrieve and repair damaged or incapacitated tanks on the battlefield, the DNG armoured recovery vehicle is essential. In the meantime, the prototype armoured engineering vehicle EPG acts as a flexible platform for engineering work and is vital to a variety of military engineering missions. An additional variation that aids in tank operators’ training and skill development is the DTT driver training tank. Additionally, the Leclerc is known locally in Jordan as the Zayed, highlighting the tank’s versatility in catering to various national requirements.
The Leclerc tank has been part of many military actions since it entered service in 1992, demonstrating its adaptability in both low-intensity conflicts and more difficult combat circumstances. Particularly, the Leclerc proved its mettle in peacekeeping missions, with 15 tanks assigned to Kosovo (KFOR) and another 13 serving as part of UNIFIL in south Lebanon until 2010, receiving favourable evaluations from French authorities. In a more recent deployment, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Leclerc tanks participated in combat operations in Yemen close to Aden as of August 2015, playing a crucial role in the coalition commanded by Saudi Arabia.
Fifty-seven Leclerc MBTs were sent into service, fifteen of which had the AZUR package installed. Even in the face of obstacles like anti tank mine damage and an RPG, the tanks didn’t completely collapse; instead, the crewmen were hurt. During the October 2019 Iron Spear exercises, the Lynx 6 Tactical Inter-Service Sub-Group’s Leclerc tanks proved their mettle in inter-alliance battles by outperforming their well-known counterparts, the American M1A2 Abrams, German Leopard 2s, and Italian C1 Ariete.
Tanks from the 1st Chasseur Regiment, 7th Armoured Brigade, were sent to Romania as part of Battle Group Forward Presence in November 2022, which allowed Leclerc tanks to further extend their operational reach. Participating in various theatres of operation, the Leclerc demonstrates its versatility in a range of environments and combat situations, demonstrating its efficacy in peacekeeping operations as well as high-intensity excersises.