Leopard 2A4 VS PT-91M
For those military buffs out there, the most talked about issue these days is the SAF's procurement of 96 Germany's KMW's Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
Not exactly an unexpected move though, but many forums came alive with discussions, mainly about the SAF's rationale to purchase MBTs and whether they are suitable for Singapore's terrain or even jungle warfare. Was having a lot of free time today(my second last day at HQMES), so did a little research on the different types of MBTs.
Anyway, personally, I felt that the rationale behind this purchase is equally (if not more) political as it is tactical. There has been talk that Mindef's statement about replacing the current AMX13-SM1 light tanks with the new Leopards is bullshit. Those who believed Jane's Defence Journal's report that SAF owns 60 British Centurion MBTs (something that our gahmen denied) will tell you that the Leopards will in fact be used to replace the now obsolete Centurions.
However, conspiracy theory aside, this lastest acquisition of the Leopard is actually long overdue. I felt that the SAF should long have purchased MBTs. Nevermind the fact that MBTs are not suitable for urban and jungle warfare, nevermind our soil is too soft for the weight of a 55 ton MBT. In fact, if you look closely at the technical specifications, the Leopard exerts a far lower ground pressure than the SM1, primarily due to its broader base and tracks. Anyway, having MBTs in our arsenal is very much a blessing rather than a curse. Please do not be fooled by what you see in the Gulf War and Operation Enduring Freedom. The SAF's fighting doctorine is far different from that of the United States. The US armour units fight as an independent force with very little support whereas the SAF fights under the Combine Arms Concept, that is, all elements of the SAF fighting as one, with the armour as the driving force. Hence, the role of the MBTs here will be very different, not just simply roll over to the enemy's ground and bomb the daylights out of them.
Then there is a second issue. In 2002, our northern neighbour purchase 48 Polish PT-91M MBTs.
These are the upgraded version of the Russian T-72 MBTs and boast a 125mm canon compared to the Leopard's 120mm canon. Even their secondary weapons are of bigger calibre. So can our new Leopards punch through the PT-91M? In terms of weapons, the Leopards are far more inferior but if you take a closer look at the technical specifications, the Leopards have the engine power and mobility that are very much similar to the US Abrams and Isreal Merkavas. However, I would say, in mordern warfare, it is a stupid idea to use tanks to one-on-one with enemy tanks. Although firepower and numbers are important, lets not forget that the Isreali's AMX13 light tanks are able crush the Egyptian's and Jordan's MBTs during the Six Days War. At that time, the Egyptians armour units were one of the most advanced and sophisticated in the world, and yet they were defeated by the Isreali's post WWII AMX13 tanks. Therefore, we cannot judge a country's armed forces by the size of their barrel. Anyway, we can always rely on our Apache choppers and 84-gunners to do all the tank killings. Hopefully, our 3G transformation will allow our soldiers to have better situational awareness than our northern neighbours.
In conclusion, although I personally prefer the Isreal Merkava Mk4 (below), having the Leopard is actually good enough for a small country.
In any case, the SAF already has the best weapon here and that is Leong Chee Kei (below) aka 炮神 - his excellent ability to 开大炮 (1000mm calibre) is second to none in this world.
Leopard 2: http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product149.html
Merkava Mk 4: http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product1602.html
Some clips that all tankees will hate and infantry men will love: