The Leopard tank with a combat weight of 40 tons, main armament of a 105 mm gun and maximum road speed of 65 km/h is rated as one of the strongest tanks in the world with excellent fire power, protection and mobility. As a main battle tank, it is being used in seven countries including West Germany, Holland, Italy, and Belgium.
Production is expected to exceed 7,000 units. The first production vehicle was completed at Krauss-Maffeit's Munchen factory in September 1965. The final production model in the Leopard I series is the A4. The model A4 is characterized by having a new turret first used in the A3. This is made of new material with space armour. The A4 also has a fire control system with a hybrid electronic trajectory computer. Data from the commander's and gunner's sights are sent to the computer for the automatic control of the main gun. The commander has an all-weather panoramic sight utilizing infrared rays, whilst the gunner has a stereoscopic range finder with a laser. Both are stabilized. The fire control system has remarkably shortened the time gap between the discovery of the target and firing, and has much increased the rate of fire.
The models A4 and A3 have undergone modifications in the equipment of the new turret and other areas, their combat weight is about 42.4 tons. The engine is an MTU-MB 838Ca. M400-type 4-cycle 10-cyclinder multi-fuel diesel, with a maximum output of 830hp/2200 rpm. It was originally expected that mobility would be reduced by the increase of the weight, but in reality the mobility has not been affected. In the model A4, a new automatic gear box is used which, by its ease of operation and high efficiency, not only lessens the driver's fatigue but also improves climbing ability, acceleration, performance, fuel consumption, etc. The main armament is a Vickers L7A3 105mm gun, and secondary armament consists of two 7.62 mm MG3 machine guns. The striking power, good protection by the spaced armour of the turret and excellent mobility and range of action of about 600Km make the Leopard A4 tank amongst the best and most effective in the world today.
It is easy to distinguish the A4 from the models A1 and A2 in the Leopard I series by the turret shape. The model A4 closely resembles the model A3, but the A4 differs from the A3 in being equipped with the Commander's panoramic sight. 250 units of the Leopard A4 have been manufactures since 1974: 122 of them for the West German National Defense Forces and 128 for the Canadian Army. The West German National Defense Forces plan to convert the earlier models in the Leopard I series into the model A4. The Leopard A4 and the new Leopard II will form the main strength of the West German tank forces in the future.