Leclerc tanks have entered service with the French army since 1993 and have undergone three upgrades since then. These are vehicles with a classic layout, a 120 mm smoothbore cannon and two machine guns of 12.7 and 7.62 mm caliber. The digital fire control system allows the tanker to simultaneously select up to six targets and hit them in 30 seconds. On the highway, the tank can reach speeds of more than 70 kilometers per hour, and on rough terrain - up to 50 kilometers per hour. Its cruising range is 550 kilometers.
Germany and France struck an agreement last year and agreed to jointly develop a next-generation main battle tank to replace their aging Leopard 2 and Leclerc. The new project was named MGCS. The development of the tank is planned to be completed by the mid-2030s.
To keep the main battle tanks in service until 2040, until a new generation of vehicles appeared, the French military signed a contract for their modernization with Leclerc on June 1. She will update them to the Leclerc XLR version. In total, it is planned to modernize 200 tanks, but the company will start with 50. Their delivery is scheduled for 2024. Another 122 will be upgraded in 2025, and the upgrade program will end in 2028.
During the upgrade, the tank will receive an FN Herstal T2B remote-controlled combat module with a 7.6-mm machine gun that can change height. The old 120mm cannon will remain, but new shots will be added to its ammunition load. In addition, Leclerc XLR will be integrated into the network of the French army Scorpion and equipped with an automated combat control system SICS and a Thales Contact communications complex. Thanks to this, the tank crew will be able to instantly exchange data and voice messages with other units connected to the network.