Thursday, December 31, 2020

Chile's Army has Latin America's Best Tanks, but Are They Vulnerable?

The backbone of Chile's Army is its three armored brigades, all equipped with Leopard 2 main battle tanks and supported by Marder infantry fighting vehicles and assorted other armor. The Leopards are armed with a 120 mm gun and decked with a number of upgrades added when they were purchased refurbished from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Germany. Its armor protection is among the best around. But the Leopard 2 has been shown to be vulnerable to anti-tank missiles. They are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). In one of the most significant combat tests, Turkey lost more than a dozen Leopard 2 and older M-60 tanks in Syria from 2016 to 2018. Kornet and other anti-tank guided missiles did the job. The losses forced Turkish military officials to rethink their use of armor and to adopt another defensive layer. That came in the form of active protection systems (APS), which can detect an incoming missile and take it down with their own missile. Turkey decided to equip its tanks with a Ukraine-made system. Israel is a pioneer in APS technology, with systems that have already been shown effective in battle. Facing no serious threat and no plans for deployment in world hotspots, APS are unlikely to be part of future upgrades for Chilean Leopards. The Army, it seems, is willing to accept the vulnerability for the time being.