The Swedish government undertook a program to upgrade their armored forces with the introduction of a new main battle tank of foreign origin as a budget-conscious initiative. The systems trialled were the American M1 Abrams, the French LeClerc and the German Leopard 2A5 - which became known as the Leopard 2(S) or "Improved S" with the aforementioned additions in place. After strenuous testing, the Swedes selected the German Leopard 2 as the winner - the tank showcasing the needed battlefield capabilities required by the Swedish Army while coming in at cost when compared to the other participants.
The Leopard 2A5 became a notable addition to the Leopard 2 production line in that it was the first variant to showcase the revised, well-sloped frontal turret facings that housed "spaced" armor intended to counter hollow charge projectiles. The turret was now fully-powered under electrical control while overall weight was lightened. German Army forces were the first to receive the revised Leopard 2A5 in 1998, eventually opening up its procurement to like-minded nations within time. The Swedish purchase of the Leopard 2A5 produced the local designation of "Strv 122" and this version retained much of the appearance and capabilities of the German model - including its twin-turbo diesel engine (MTU MB-873 Ka-501 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine of 1,500 horsepower), 120mm smoothbore L55 main gun, torsion-bar suspension system, low-profile design and seven double-tired road wheels. The vehicle is crewed by four personnel made up of the driver, tank commander, gunner and loader.
The Stridsvagn 122 has been evolved into the "Strv 122B" variant which sports modular armor to combat the relatively newer battlefield threats showcased in the Afghanistan and Iraq Theaters. These threats included large-scale exposure to Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) of all types as well as the famed Soviet-era Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPGs) used to a high degree by insurgents and Taliban forces. Despite the addition of more armor in the Strv 122B model, the overall operating weight has proven negligible for Swedish Army battlefield requirements.
Prior to the Strv 122, the Swedish Army operated the Leopard 2A4 production mark in number, these as the "Strv 121". The Strv 122 formally replaced these Strv 121 marks and approximately 120 Strv 122s went on to see service beginning in 1997. The initial 20 systems were produced in Germany with the remaining batches produced locally under license in Sweden by Bofors Defense / Alvis Hagglunds. Deliveries of all Strv 122s to the Swedish Army completed in 2002.
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