The Kampfpanzer Leopard 1 (also styled Leopard I, before the Leopard 2 simply known as the Kampfpanzer Leopard) is a main battle tank designed by Porsche and manufactured by Krauss-Maffei in West Germany, first entering service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard design focused on effective firepower and mobility instead of heavy protection. It featured moderate armour, only effective against low caliber autocannons and heavy machine guns, giving it a high power-to-weight ratio. This, coupled with a modern suspension and drivetrain, gave the Leopard superior mobility and cross-country performance compared to most other main battle tanks of the era, only being rivaled by the French AMX-30 and Swedish Strv 103. The main armament of the Leopard consisted of a German license-built version of the British Royal Ordnance L7 105 mm rifled gun, one of the most effective and widespread tank guns of the era.

The design started as a collaborative project during the 1950s between West Germany and France, and later joined by Italy, but the partnership ended shortly after and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, with full-scale production starting in 1965. In total, 6,485 Leopard tanks have been built, of which 4,744 were battle tanks and 1,741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants, not including 80 prototypes and pre-series vehicles.

The Leopard quickly became a standard of many European militaries, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide, with West Germany, Italy and the Netherlands being the largest operators until their retirement. Since 1990, the Leopard 1 has gradually been relegated to secondary roles in most armies. In the German Army, the Leopard 1 was completely phased out in 2003 by the Leopard 2, while Leopard 1-based vehicles are still widely used in utility roles.

The Leopard 2 has replaced the Leopard 1 in service with many other nations, with derived vehicles using the Leopard 1 hull still seeing service. Currently, the largest operators are Greece, with 520 vehicles, Turkey, with 397 vehicles, Brazil with 378 vehicles and Chile with 202 vehicles. Most of these vehicles have been upgraded with various improvements to armour, firepower and sensors to maintain their ability to engage modern threats.

Designer: Porsche in 1956–1961

Manufacturer: KraussMaffei, OTO Melara

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