The Leclerc XLR Main Battle Tank is undergoing testing by the French General Directorate of

The French General Directorate of Armament (Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) has unveiled a remarkable achievement through the release of test videos showcasing the performance of the Leclerc XLR main battle tank. The tests, carried out at a range in Bourges, have not only met all of the anticipated objectives but have also demonstrated that the tank’s fundamental firepower remains unaffected despite the incorporated modifications.

The Leclerc XLR stands as a testament to cutting-edge innovation within the realm of armored warfare. A third-generation French main battle tank (MBT) conceived and produced by the collaborative efforts of Nexter, a division of KMW+Nexter Defense Systems (KNDS), it has now undergone a fourth-generation upgrade. This ambitious modernization project, unveiled in March 2015, envisaged the enhancement of 200 Leclerc tanks. The timeline projected the introduction of two XLR prototypes in 2018, followed by the completion of the remaining 198 units over an eight-year span, commencing in 2020. The substantial contract for these upgrades was valued at an approximate €330 million.

The metamorphosis of the Leclerc into the XLR variant is indeed awe-inspiring. The augmentation process involves the integration of a remotely-operated 7.62mm caliber machine gun, expertly crafted by the renowned Belgian company FN Herstal. Furthermore, modular armor has been strategically affixed to both the turret and the hull. An innovative addition, the rear wire cage armor, has been introduced to safeguard the engine compartment against threats like rocket-propelled grenades.

The tank’s mainstay, the 120mm CN 120-26 smoothbore tank gun, now comes equipped with a thermal sleeve, dynamic barrel positioning system, and the capability to fire programmable ammunition, including the HE M3M cal. 120mm. This versatile adaptation has been facilitated by the French-designed and Giat Industries-produced CN120-26, commonly referred to as Modèle F1 (F1 model). It boasts a formidable 120mm bore with a barrel length of 52 calibers, demonstrating meticulous engineering prowess.

The crowning achievement of the XLR lies in its upgraded armor package, presenting a thickness of 1200mm. This sophisticated shield comprises not only enhanced modular armor on both the hull and turret but also a fortified front hull side defended by passive armor. This arrangement is complemented by the incorporation of wire cage armor on the hull’s rear portion, extending the vehicle’s protection to RPG attacks. Moreover, the XLR is fortified with a potent active self-defense system, featuring the advanced multispectral GALIX technology.

Significantly, the Leclerc XLR has seamlessly joined the ranks of the SCORPION joint battle group (JBG), facilitated by its integration into the common vetronics systems shared across various platforms. The embodiment of fourth-generation attributes lies predominantly in the realm of electronics. The tank features a networked architecture that interconnects critical elements like the Thales tactical radio system, NBC protection system, night vision equipment, and the Atos-designed SCORPION Information and Command System (SICS), complemented by intuitive display screens.

Leclerc XLR: competitor to "Armata" or an attempt to catch up with "Leopard"

A myriad of enhancements characterizes the upgraded Leclerc. It boasts a counter-IED jammer, redesigned man-machine interfaces for both the commander and gunner, revamped main system computers, and an advanced battle health monitoring system. The merging of the inertial navigation system and GPS navigation system enhances navigational accuracy. This holistic transformation ultimately ensures the seamless integration of the Leclerc XLR into the collaborative combat environment, cementing its status as a cutting-edge force within modern armored warfare.

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