KNDS will debut the Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 during the Eurosatory trade show in France (KNDS).

BELFAST — Franco-German KNDS will showcase two new main battle tank concepts at next week’s Eurosatory conference in Paris: advanced versions of Leopard 2 and Leclerc vehicles.

A Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 tank, complete with an unmanned, remote controlled turret is to be displayed alongside the Leclerc Evolution vehicle, fitted with a manned turret and integrated with a 120mm Ascalon gun, according to a company statement released today.

KNDS is a joint venture between Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and France’s Nexter. The manufacturer noted that the main weapon of the A-RC 3.0 vehicle “is loaded by a modular, automatic linear loader and calibres between 120 and 140mm can be selected.”

In addition, extra space in the chassis has been achieved through a new weapon mount, enabling up to four crew members to be inside the chassis, all supported by a protective crew cell, added KNDS.

“The ballistic protection is supplemented by a proven active protection system and a remote-controlled [30mm] weapon station to counter drone threats,” said the manufacturer. “The fire power of the Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 is augmented by a guided missile system with which targets beyond line of sight can also be engaged while on the move.”

A spokesperson for KNDS also told Breaking Defense that other advantages of integrating an unmanned turret include a reduction of vehicle weight, a “decrease in detectability” due to a lower electromagnetic profile, and “threats from above hav[ing] to pass through much more armour.”

Based off a modular design approach, any Leopard 2 vehicles, regardless of variant, can be upgraded to the A-RC 3.0 configuration.

The new vehicle has been self-funded by the manufacturer to date, according to the KNDS spokesperson, declining to share an approximate cost.

The latest version of the Leopard 2, builds off the 2A8 standard, on order by Germany and Norway. Jana Cernochova, Czech Republic defense minister, also said today in a translated social media post on X (formerly Twitter) that Prague intends on moving ahead with plans to buy 61 of the vehicles in six configurations, supported by an option to buy a further 16 platforms, at a cost of  39.8 billion CZK ($1.7 billion).

Though the acquisition has not been formally approved, it has been moved to a list of Czech Republic strategic military projects, added Cernochova. As previously committed to, Prague plans on joining the German Leopard 2A8 procurement.

Building A Bridge

KNDS also shared that the newer Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 vehicle is seen as a “bridge solution” to the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) future main battle tank and a “decisive technological precursor” to the multinational effort.

In April, KNDS Deutschland, KNDS France, Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Thales announced plans to develop a four-party MGCS joint venture, a move that followed French and German officials signing the “phase 1a” agreement, kickstarting development of the next generation tank.

On Tuesday, KNDS announced it had abandoned talks with Leonardo to close on a joint partnership aimed at developing and producing an Italian version of the Leopard 2A8, as the two sides failed to agree on a common configuration. The split also means MGCS cooperation and how to jointly pursue an Italian IFV requirement has ended.

Regarding the Leclerc Evolution unveiling, KNDS said the vehicle can accommodate four crew members and hosts a deputy commander crew station in the chassis, for management of “an extensive sensors and effectors suite.”

Inclusion of the Ascalon main gun on the vehicle follows on from a May firing campaign where KNDS fired from both 120mm and 140mm barrels. Ascalon is positioned by the manufacturer as the ideal gun solution for MGCS and, it argues, it creates “the foundations for the future standard of European tank gun and ammunition.” The wider firing program, which first started in 2022 is set to finish in December 2025, and will include main battle tank firings.