The venerable Leclerc Tank is the main Western armored fighting platform of the Vancil 1418 Universe, having been in service with the United Kingdom since 1992 and with all the other Commonwealth Nations since 1995 (when it last began replacing the M60 tanks of the Federation of North America). At a per-unit price of roughly $16,000,000 for the current model, it is the most expensive Main Battle Tank in history.
AMX-56 Bis "Leclerc II"Edit
The AMX-56 Bis "Leclerc II", or «Leclerc II» in French orthography, is a comprehensive upgrade of the original design to maintain its individual edge over current and projected Soviet MBTs for the forseeable future (Bis meaing "twice" or "repeat" in French). This program, started under the initiative of the Federation of North America, began implimentation in 2011. Prior to that date, Leclerc tanks were manufactured in both the U.K. and F.N.A.. But output of the Bis model, the current standard, is undertaken entirely by America with only certain components being produced in the U.K., meaning Leclerc production by its original designers has essentially ceased.
The Leclerc II features re-designs or upgrades to nearly all of its components to one extent or another. The modular armor packets (ceramic-composite 'blocks' sandwiched between two layers of metallic hull) are of an entirely new composition incorporating depleted uranium and tungsten carbide, increasing the vehicle's level of protection (but also its weight). The new hull uses large amounts of titanium to improve its effectiveness and reduce mass. The use of these rare substances, however, severely increases the tank's cost and difficulty of manufacture. Yet it makes the Leclerc II a truly formidable fighting machine, far outclassing its Soviet counterparts in terms of raw armor protection.
The main weapon - a GIAT CN136-40 Smoothbore Cannon - is entirely new, as is the turret which houses it. This gun has a bore diameter of 136mm and a depth of 56 calibres, or 7.616 meters (136mm x 56). This gives it a marked advantage in both range and stopping power over its Soviet enemies. The well-designed autoloader allows a rate-of-fire of 12 rounds per minute: markedly superior to the any other tank. It carries a total of 38 rounds of ammunition; 1 in the breech, 18 in the autoloader mechanism and another 19 ready-to-load.
Secondary armament consists of two 12.7mm [.50-cal] heavy machine guns, one coaxial and one in a remote-control mount on the turret roof; the original Leclerc's top-mounted MG was 7.62mm.
In terms of propulsion, the Leclerc II has a hybrid diesel-electric drive-train based around two V8 800hp engines - compared to the conventional 1,500hp V12 direct-geared powerplant of the original. These engines are connected to, and run, electrical generators, rather than actually being responsible for powering the wheels (which are driven by electric motors instead). Thus, the Leclerc II can spend much of its time operating with only one of its engines running, allowing it to reduce fuel consumption and increase its operational range. Both engines are only ever really needed to rapidly charge its batteries or to compensate for high amounts of power usage, i.e. when the tank is in combat or moving at high speeds for extended periods.
In addition to the basic hull plating and composite inserts, the Leclerc has outer external add-on sections of alternating aluminum and plastic over important parts of the hull which deform predictably to absorb the velocity of solid penetrator rounds. Fitted over these are more effective, but more volatile, Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) tiles. The next layer of protection is a three-tier soft- / hard- active protection system. The first layer of this, the passive system, incorporates a pair of electro-optical infrared laser dazzlers (two large 'red eye' lights on the front of the turret), four laser warning receivers and four automated aerosol grenade launchers. When an incoming threat is detected by the system, the crew is warned by the computer and a variety of smoke and IR-screening grenades are automatically discharged to mask the tank from optics as well as laser-based rangefinders and designators. The crew can bring the turret around using the automated fire-control mechanism to paint incoming ordnance with the electro-optical / IR dazzlers: jamming, disabling or flooding many different types of guidance systems. The second and third tiers of the protective system are active "hardkill" suites, slaved to the same overall control computer as the "soft" components described above. The second layer discharges tungsten pellet "cones" that destroy incoming munitions like giant shotgun shells. The third layer uses small interceptor missiles to give the same effect at longer ranges. Both hardkill systems are capable of engaging top-kill munitions.
The Leclerc's digital fire control system can be operated independently by the gunner or the commander, and it offers real time integrated imaging from all of the tank's sensors and sights, including the gunner's SAVAN 50 stabilised sight (developed by SAGEM).
Other modifications include an all-mechanical auxillary climate control system which can be run through secondary gearing from either engine (requiring one of engine to be 'unconnected' from its generator). This allows the tank to operate with reduced electrical / thermal signature. The new automation system for the driving / turret functions allows the tank to operate with limited input from the crew, or by a crew with only basic training. It is also fitted with additional cage and slat armor to provide additional protection for certain vulnerable areas and an extrerior telephone allowing troops to communicate with the operators inside.
Numbers in UseEdit
Federation of North America - ~9,000 Leclercs in total, of which 4,920 are Leclerc IIs.
United Kingdom - 720 Leclercs [in reserve] & 720 Leclerc IIs
Byzantine Empire - ~1,200 Leclercs of various batches (no Leclerc IIs) in addition to indigenously-developed Nikator tanks
Australia - 60 Leclercs [in reserve] & 60 Leclerc IIs
Spain - 108 Leclercs & 218 Leclerc IIs