The aim of the tests was to verify the progress of the SCORPION programme, which concerns the modernization of French Leclerc tanks. The tests also aimed to confirm that the modifications did not negatively affect the tank’s firepower. According to the DGA, all test goals were achieved and all systems, including the main armament, performed correctly.
The 120mm CN 120-26 120mm smoothbore tank gun – equipped with a thermal sleeve, dynamic barrel positioning system and able to clear gas with compressed air – was adapted to fire programmable ammunition, the HE M3M cal. 120mm.
No information was provided about the newly installed remotely controlled weapon system (RCWS) on the turret. Moreover, it was covered during video recording and photo shooting for press purposes. The addition of a new RCWS – designed for combat in urban environments – was included in the tank modernization programme.
The Leclerc XLR’s new armor, with a thickness of 1200mm, is designed to provide protection against the latest kinetic projectiles with a tungsten alloy or depleted uranium core, with a penetrability range of 700-800mm RHA steel. Additionally, the tank will be equipped with an active self-defence system using multispectral Galix grenades.
According to Nexter, “the LECLERC MBT is a third generation heavy battle tank. Its architecture allows it to be revised and upgraded with the latest systems to adapt to ever-changing battlefield threats. This renovation will increase the MBT’s operational capabilities, with the integration of vetronics and secondary armament, as well as the army’s new command and communication systems.”
Under the Military Programming Act still in force, it was planned to deliver 200 modernized Leclerc XLR tanks to the army by 2029. However, the new law project for 2024-2030 proposes reducing that number to 160 by 2030. The remaining 40 vehicles will be delivered to French tank crews by 2035.