Leclerc Main Battle Tank, France world’s most expensive MBT – Update 1


The Leclerc main battle tank was developed by GIAT Industries. Its development began in 1978 and first prototypes were built in 1989. Production of the Leclerc MBT started in 1991. It is named in honor to general Philippe Jacques Leclerc, commander of French armored division during World War II. The Leclerc is one of the best main battle tanks in the world. It is in service with France (406) and United Arab Emirates (388). Some sources claim that currently only 340 Leclercs remain in service with the French Army.

leclerc_EAUUnited Arab Emirates Leclerc

It is protected with advanced modular armor system, which can be tailored to the threat. Its armor is a combination of steel, ceramics and Kevlar. Damaged modules are easily replaceable. Furthermore they can be easily upgraded with more advanced armor modules. Turret and hull roof was designed to withstand top-attack munitions. Chassis of the tank is covered with wide side skirts. The main electrical systems were duplicated to improve survivability.


The Leclerc main battle tank is armed with a CN 120-26 120-mm smoothbore gun, 52 caliber long. This gun is fitted with a bustle-mounted autoloader, holding 22 rounds. Remaining 18 rounds are stored in a carousel-type storage area in front of the hull. Autoloader provides a maximum rate of fire in 12 rounds per minute. It is claimed that Leclerc MBT can engage 6 targets, located 1.5 – 2 km away,  in one minute with a hit probability in 95%. Gun can be loaded manually both from the inside or outside the MBT. The Leclerc can fire French or standard NATO munitions.

The 120 mm cannon GIAT F1 of the battle tank Leclerc

The 120 mm cannon of the battle tank Leclerc’s first run in the French armored vehicle as a smoothbore gun. In the development they put great emphasis on the compatibility with other 120 mm guns of NATO forces and so from this gun readily also German and American 120 mm ammunition of Leopard and M1 be fired. 

The accuracy of the gun should be very high and at shooting distances of 2500 meters, the meeting already guarantee with the first shot.

120 mm smoothbore cannon GIAT F1 of the battle tank Leclerc120 mm smoothbore cannon GIAT F1 of the battle tank Leclerc

The bottom piece comprises a downwardly opening case breech as well as the 120 mm cannon from Rheinmetall.The tube of the gun is hard chrome plated on the inside. 
The tube length of F1 is specified with 52 caliber lengths, ie 6240 mm. A Wärmschutzhülle and means for blowing out of the tube after each shot are also available. The blowout acts pneumatically. A framework, based on the ejector principle smoke exhausts, as on most tank guns is not provided. A device is that allows monitoring the Rohrverbiegung due to thermal stress and readjustment of the main riflescope without leaving the main battle tank at the mouth. 

The main parts of the gun are displayed in the following diagram:

1 – mirrors the Feldjustieranlage, 2 – heat cases, 3 – cradle, 4 – barrel recoil device 
5 – junction box, 6 – sleeve bag, 7 – frontal armor plate, 8 – gudgeon 
9 – operating finger for firing, 10 – adjusting device for automatic Hülsenauswerfen / no eject

For the F1 four new types of ammunition with combusting sleeve and steely sleeve base were developed. A sub-caliber kinetic energy projectile, a shaped charge grenade and each represents a practice round. The kinetic energy projectile reaches a top speed of 1790 m / sec and the hollow charge projectile an initial velocity of 1100 m / sec.

An automatic charger with 22 cartridges in a tape loader  and an advanced fire control system round out the modern tank cannon. For the secondary weapon, it was decided to use a 12.7 mm machine gun instead of the usual 7.62 mm MG-Tower.

Translated by Google


Leclerc_MBT_firing01Leclerc_mg_7754Leclerc_p1040879OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Secondary armament consists of coaxial 12.7-mm machine gun and remotely controlled anti-aircraft 7.62-mm machine gun.


Vehicle is fitted with a battlefield management system. It automatically reports to command post tank’s location, quantity of ammunition and fuel left. Broadly similar system is used on the M1A2 Abrams.


Vehicle has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. An autoloader permits a three-man crew.


Leclerc main battle tank is powered by French VD V8X-1500 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 500 horsepower. Its powerpack is smaller than contemporary tank engines. This feature allowed to reduce overall dimensions of the tank. Powerpack can be replaced in field conditions within 30 minutes. Vehicle has a hydropneumatic suspension, providing good cross-country performance. Additional fuel tanks can be fitted at the rear of the hull for extended range.


Vehicles exported to United Arab Emirates have many improvements, including different engine. These tanks are fitted with a proven German diesel, developing 1,500 hp.

Nexter to modernise French Army’s Leclerc tanks and DCL armoured vehicles


Nexter Systems has received a contract from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to upgrade the national army’s Leclerc main battle tanks (MBTs) and DCL armoured recovery vehicles.

Valued at €330m, the contract represents the third order awarded by the French Defence Ministry under the Scorpion programme, which aims to modernise the French Army’s contact forces.

Under the contract, the company will deliver a total of 200 ‘Leclerc Renovated’ tanks, and 18 ‘DCL Renovated’ convenience stores tank to the French Army.

The planned upgrade is expected to enable the tanks to make the best use of its fire power and mobility within future ‘Scorpion’ joint tactical groups (GTIA).

In particular, the upgraded tanks will be able to effectively network with all components of future Scorpion GTIA groups with the development of specific interfaces for the new Contact tactical radio system and the Scorpion information system and command (SICS).

The upgrade programme will also boost the tank’s protection through the development of specific armour kits, which would enable the platform to better cope with changing threats, especially improvised explosive devices (IEDs). 

In addition, the programme aims to maintain the tank’s capacity to provide French ground forces with the ‘first entry’ ability as part of an international coalition through a high degree of automation and diagnostic aid, beyond 2040.

Deliveries under the contract are scheduled to take place from 2020.

The French Army is believed to have 406 Leclrec tanks and 20 armoured recovery vehicles in service.

Built by Nexter, the Leclerc is a third-generation tank armed with a Nato standard CN120-26 120mm smooth bore gun, a coaxial 12.7mm machine gun and a roof-mounted 7.62mm machine gun, and offers protection against IEDs, mines and rocket propelled grenades.

Apart from France, the tanks are also operated by the UAE armed forces, and are being considered for acquisition by Qatar.

Upgrade package


The new armor (green) covers the side and rear section of the tank’s hull only. It appears to be similar or even identical to the Leclerc AZUR (Action en Zone Urbaine) that has been revealed in 2006. The frontal two thirds of the new armor seem to panels made of what seems to be reactive armor (either NERA or ERA) – this covers the whole crew compartment. The rear section of the hull and the turret is only protected by slat armor.

Four wire cutters and a new RWS (light brown) are added to the tank, two of the mounted on the turret roof and two on the hull section. Furthermore the number of the GALIX smoke grenade dischargers (yellow) has been increased dramatically – from 12 to 24. Two banks of 4 smoke grenade dischargers are mounted on the turret front, while the original GALIX launchers are increased in size (from 6 to 10 smoke grenade each). Laser warner sensors (red) also have been fitted to the tank, which could in theory work together with the GALIX system like a full softkill active protection system. The Leclerc Standard F1 is also fitted with a close proximity surveillance system (orange), consisting of three camera/sensor systems mounted at the turret sides and rear.


Technical data

Description Leclerc Série 1 Leclerc Série 2 Leclerc Série XXI Tropicalized Leclerc
Produced 132 178 96 388
Date 1992–1996 1997-2003 2003-2008 1994 – early 2000s
Batch T1 to T5 T6 to T9 T10 to T11 Not applicable
Crew 3
Combat weight 54,5 t 56,3 t 57,6 t 57 t
Hull weight 36 t 37 t 37,5 t x
Turret weight 18,5 t 19 t 20,5 t x
Engine SACM V8X Hyperbar 8-cylinder diesel engine MTU MT 883 Ka 500 12-cylinder diesel engine
Engine displacement 16,470 cm3 27,700 cm3
Forced induction ratio 7,8 3
Power output 1500 hp (1,118 kW) at 2500 RPM 1500 hp (1,118 kW) at 2700 RPM
Maximum torque 4850 Nm at 1700 RPM 4545 Nm at 2000 RPM
Transmission SESM ESM 500 Renk HSWL 295 TM
Suspension system 12 SAMM ESO twin-cylinder oleopneumatic suspension
Maximum speed 72 km/h (backwards 38 km/h)
Fuel capacity 1,300 liters (up to 1700 liters with external fuel drums) 1,420 liters (up to 1820 liters with external fuel drums)
Hull length 6,88 m 7,03 m
Width 3,43 m (3,60 m with ballistic side skirts and 3,71 m with side-view mirrors)
Height 2,53 m (turret roof)
Ground clearance 500 mm
Wading depth without preparation 1,1 m
Wading depth with snorkel 4 m Not applicable
Trench passability 3 m
Climbing ability 1,1 m
Turret rotation time (360°) 12 seconds

Current operators

Potential operators

  •  Qatar Some were tested by the Qatari army, France hopes to sell about 40 second-hand Leclerc.

Estimated Cost: $27.183 million ( – 2013

Source: Military Today, Wiki,




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