The Leclerc main battle tank was developed by GIAT Industries. It's development began in 1978 and first prototypes were built in 1989. Production of the Leclerc MBT started in 1991. It is named in honor to general Jacques Leclerc, commander of French armored division during World War II. The Leclerc is one of the best main battle tanks in the world. It is in service with France (406) and United Arab Emirates (388).
It is protected with advanced modular armor. It's armor is a combination of steel, ceramics and Kevlar. Damaged modules are easily replaceable. Furthermore they can be easily upgraded with more advanced armor modules. Turret and hull roof was designed to withstand top-attack munitions. Chassis of the tank is covered with wide side skirts. The main electrical systems were duplicated to improve survivability.
The Leclerc main battle tank is armed with a CN 120-26 120-mm smoothbore gun, 52 caliber long. This gun is fitted with a bustle-mounted autoloader, holding 22 rounds. Remaining 18 rounds are stored in a carousel-type storage area in front of the hull. Autoloader provides a maximum rate of fire in 12 rounds per minute. It is claimed that Leclerc MBT can engage 6 targets, located 1.5 - 2 km away, in one minute with a hit probability in 95%. Gun can be loaded manually both from the inside or outside the MBT. The Leclerc can fire French or standard NATO munitions.
Secondary armament consists of coaxial 12.7-mm machine gun and remotely controlled anti-aircraft 7.62-mm machine gun.
Vehicle is fitted with a battlefield management system. It automatically reports to command post tank's location, quantity of ammunition and fuel left. Broadly similar system is used on the M1A2 Abrams.
Vehicle has a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver.
Leclerc main battle tank is powered by French VD V8X-1500 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1 500 horsepower. It's powerpack is smaller than contemporary tank engines. This feature allowed to reduce overall dimensions of the tank. Powerpack can be replaced in field conditions during 30 minutes. Vehicle has a hydropneumatic suspension, providing good cross-country performance. Additional fuel tanks can be fitted at the rear of the hull for extended range.
Vehicles exported to United Arab Emirates have many improvements, including different engine.
Leclerc AZUR (Action en Zone URban), a special version optimized for urban operations. Vehicle is fitted with enhanced protection package;
DNG armored recovery vehicle;
EPG armored engineering vehicle;
DTT driver training tank.