Letter to Online Defense: the return of the Leopard-1?


In 2021, news appeared of a study program underway to revitalize the special mechanical wagon line Leopard-1. These are the rescue wagon, pioneer wagon and bridge wagon versions, produced under license in Italy by Oto Melara and entered into service between the seventies and eighties of the last century. The IV logistic department of the EMS plans to update 100 platforms (50 rescue, 25 pioneers and 25 gittabronte) as part of a program that is expected to be underway. The plans include not only the general overhaul but also the modernization of the vehicles with replacement of parts and the strengthening of the propulsion system and protection. This is in order to allow the wagon line to be supported Ram in the field of mobility: overcoming of gaps, canals and anti-tank ditches; opening of corridors in minefields; recovery of damaged or immobilized loved ones; removal of road obstacles; excavation of locations. These needs could also be exploited by the heavy busway line Centaur-2, as is already the case today with the version Leopard-1 aid in favor of the Centaur-1.

After this premise, the question arises almost spontaneously: why not also overhaul a few dozen Leopard-1A5s and put them back in operational conditions? The costs of such an operation could be evaluated in relation to the benefits that could derive the training of the tank departments, which today due to the low number of wagons Ram efficient people find it difficult to carry out their instructions in the tactical field and in cooperation with the Bersaglieri and self-propelled artillery units.

The proposal is to allocate 20-30 Leopard-1A5 overhauled to the 1st armored regiment of Capo Teulada, in order both to revitalize the department, currently without armored vehicles, and to improve the training of tank crews mounted on Ram. In this way we could return to the old function of the CAUC of Capo Teulada which acted as a training body in favor of the departments that alternated in the polygon, and which found on site the armored vehicles to be used in fire exercises, avoiding their transport from the headquarters. sedentary. Crews trained to use Ram, certainly would not find it difficult to retrain in a short time to crews of Leopard-1, also in consideration of their lesser sophistication.

The park Leopard-1A5 of Capo Teulada with its operators of the 1st armored regiment could also serve as a heavy unit for the “Sassari” brigade, currently lacking both a tank component and an explorer component. The Leopard-1A5, despite being an outdated combat tank, it is still in service in various armies, such as the Brazilian, Chilean and Greek ones and could play a role in operational contexts characterized by a not particularly high level of threat. Equipped with additional armor, antiminar armor and an engine boosted to 950 hp, the Leopard-1A5 provides non-negligible performance e exploitable in low-intensity operations or low-risk peacekeeping missions.

The main purpose of the recovery program of the Leopard-1A5 it would remain, however, to allow a realistic training of the companies of the 4th, 32nd and 132nd tank regiments at significantly lower costs than those of the use of tanks Ram. In particular, the costs related to the transport of the Ram from the mainland to Sardinia or in foreign shooting ranges to allow the fire training of the crews.

Another advantage would be to avoid the wear and tear of the mechanics of the few Ram operational for the conduct of the most advanced training lessons and amalgamation at battalion level and inter-weapon cooperation.


Photo: Italian Army

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