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AS1 Leopard

lepo model

The requirement to replace the Centurion tank was taken up in late 1971. After viewing tanks from many nations France, Britain, America, Germany. The American M60A1 and the German Leopard were chosen for user trails in Australia. Two M60A1 and two Leopard 1A2 (with cast turret one vehicle had the name "Barbarossa" applied to the left hand side) and one Leopard Recovery vehicle were used in the trails. Trails of the M60A1 and the Leopard started in 1972 with both vehicles performing well in the tests. The Australian Army has purchased around 50 ex-Canadian Leopard 1A3 turrets. These have arrived on Flat cargo racks from Canada. They are to be stripped of all components and these are to be used as spares for the present fleet of AS1.

The harsh environment of Northern Australia meant that temperatures of around 50 degrees Centigrade were encountered. Improvements to the crew comforts were introduced around 1998. These included a modular camouflage system developed by the Swedish Barracuda Company.

The Leopard is only used by the 1st Armoured Regiment and training units. Modifications made to the Leopard to suit Australian needs are stowage boxes instead of the German stowage racks, mesh baskets are often added to the rear to improve the amount of stowage that can be carried (there never seems to be enough space for stowage on tanks). Mobile Camouflage System ( a set of panels that not only insulate the tank from the extreme heat of the Northern Territories but also provide some protection from thermal imaging systems). Improvements to the gun accuracy with the EDGA (Electronic Digital Gunnery Assistance). Leopard is due to get a new thermal image gun sight beginning mid 2003. The sight is manufactured by Thales Optronics LTD and is similar to that ordered for the UK's Scorpion, Scimitar and Warrior. The name AS1 comes from the NATO designation for Australia which is AS.