From Academic Kids

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A Leclerc main battle tank on the during the 2003 parade

General Characteristics
Weight:54.6 tons
Speed:71 km/h
120mm tank gun
  • 12,7 mm coaxial machine gun
  • 7,62 mm machine gun
  • 19 grenades launchers
Crew: 3 (Commander; Gunner; Driver)

The Leclerc is a main battle tank built by GIAT Industries of France. It was named in honour of General Philippe de Hauteclocque "Leclerc" who landed at Normandy and eventually led the drive towards Paris while in command of the Free French 2nd Armoured Division in World War II.

The Leclerc is in service with the French Army and the army of the United Arab Emirates. In production since 1990, a bit more than 400 should be in service in France and a bit fewer than 400 in service in the UAE by 2005.



The Leclerc is equipped with a smooth bore 120 mm tank gun from GIAT. The gun is chambered to use the same 120 mm rounds as those used in the German Leopard and the M1 Abrams from the USA, and it is insulated with a thermal sleeve. The gun has an automatic compressed air system instead of the usual fume extraction cylinder. The Leclerc has a unique autoloading system which was specifically designed for it, and reduces the crew to 3 by eliminating the human loader. In a certain sense the turret of the Leclerc was designed around the auto loading system in order to avoid the problems common to other tanks with an autoloader. The Leclerc autoloader allows a rate of fire of 12 shots per minute and holds 22 rounds of ammo, which can be of 5 different types, all available for selection at the same time. The most common types are the armour piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) with a tungsten core and the high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) round. There are 18 other rounds available for reload. A Leclerc tank can fire while traveling at a speed of 40 km/h on a target 4000 metres away and traveling at 60 km/h (most modern tanks fire at about 15km/h and have to stop to reload). The gun is 52 calibres long instead of 44 calibres which is the ordinary length of barrel for many modern tanks; this gives the rounds a higher muzzle velocity.

The Leclerc is also equipped with a 12.7 mm coaxial machine gun, instead of the smaller coaxial weapon usually common in other tanks. On top of the turret there is a 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun, which has an armored casing and is controlled from within the tank.


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The Leclerc has the Galix combat vehicle protection system from GIAT, which fires a variety of smoke grenades and infra red jamming rounds.

The hull and the turret are made of welded steel fitted with modular armour, which can be replaced easily for repair or upgrades over the years.

Fire control and observation

The Leclerc has a FINDERS battle management system and an ICONE TIS digital communication system which integrates data from other tanks and upper levels of command.

The Leclerc' digital fire control system can be operated independently by the gunner or the commander, and it offers real time integrated imaging from all of the tank's sensors and sights, including the gunner's SAVAN 20 stabilised sight, developed by SAGEM and the driver's night/day OB-60 vision system from Thales Optrosys. The system can track six targets concurrently and is very much like a similar system made by the same company for the Challenger 2 tank of the United Kingdom.


The Leclerc has an eight-cylinder, SACM 1,500hp diesel engine and a SESM ESM 500 automatic transmission, with five forward and two reverse gears. The maximum speed by road is 70 km/h and 50 km/h cross country. The maximum range is given as 550 km, and can be extended to 650 km with releasable external tanks.

There is also a Turbomeca TM 307B gas turbine giving auxiliary power to all systems when the main engine is shut down for routine or emergency maintenance.

The Leclerc has an unusually high power to weight ratio of 28.3 hp per ton (21 W/kg), making it one of the fastest main battle tanks in the world's major armies. It is not known if this high speed and the greater range also noted above is done at the expense of armour protection, when compared to other main battle tanks. One thing for sure is that with a combat weight of 56 tons the Leclerc is one of the lightest main battle tanks in the world.


The gear box is equipped with a hydrokinetic retarder able to slow the Leclerc down at the rate of 7m/sē which can be very useful at the last moment before it could be hit. The crew must wear a harness.

Combat experience

The first Leclerc were commissioned in 1992, too late for the 1991 Gulf war, and have not been used in all-out war.

As for "low-intensity conflicts", 15 Leclerc have been deployed in Kosovo in the context of UN peace-keeping operations, where their performances were judged satisfactory by the French parliament.

fr:Char Leclerc de:Leclerc (Panzer)


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