It was hard to ignore the Leclerc tank, presented both at the Nexter stand and performing in the United Arab Emirate’s armed forces’ dynamic demonstration at IDEX 2017 in Abu Dhabi last month. Against the background of this high visibility, the French systems integrator is proposing a new “multiple-choice offer to meet a requirement from our Emirati client,” Eric Kreutzberger, Managing Director of Nexter Systems in the UAE, told FOB.
The history of the Leclerc in the UAE goes back to 1993 when it bought 388 battle tanks, two training platforms and 46 breakdown recovery vehicles. However, since then, the Emirati Leclercs have only benefitted from one upgrade programme with 14 AZUR kits (Action in Urban Zones) ordered in 2011 and intended, among other things, to provide better protection against anti-tank ammunition and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Even if Nexter still aims to equip the entire Emirati fleet with this AZUR kit, the company is now promoting a new kit which offers a range of improvements in armaments, optronics, mobility and protection.
For the armament segment of the new kit, Nexter is offering a remote controlled FLW 200 turret produced by… KMW and installed on the Leopard 2A7+ acquired in 2016 by Qatar. Unlike the ATO turret, armed with a 7.62mm MAG58 and operable only by the tank commander, the KMW turret is equipped with a 12.7mm machine gun and can be used by the gunner.
For the optronics upgrade, Nexter is proposing to add 360° peripheral vision projected onto new display screens at the commander, gunner and driver positions, and the replacement of the commander’s panoramic vision system with the PASEO system originally designed by Safran for the French Army’s future Jaguar reconnaissance and combat armoured vehicle. PASEO is an optronic turret stabilised on two axes and equipped notably with an infra-red channel, a high resolution day channel and a laser rangefinder. This enables the commander to detect a threat at a distance of 12km, recognise it at 7.3km and identify it at more than 4km.
In addition, the Leclerc tank is gaining mobility thanks mainly to the replacement of the manual system that controls the tension of the vehicle’s tracks by the electric hydraulic system currently in service on the French Leclercs.
To improve the tank’s protection Nexter is proposing to add additional shielding to the floor, and using steel, not aluminium, for the tracks. “Steel offers better resistance to IED-type threats, without the extra weight having any impact on the mobility of the tank,” says Kreutzberger.
All the systems can be powered by an auxiliary generator installed on the rear of the tank, allowing the crew to work without the engine being switched on, thereby improving the operating autonomy of the platform.