For decades the West German Army relied on a series of lightweight, progressively powerful, missile-armed tracked combat vehicles for the tank destroyer role. Initial forms were based around firing the SS.11 Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) and these were then followed by a model armed with the Euromissile HOT ATGM. The line culminated with the Raketenjagdpanzer 4 (RakJPz 4) (also known as the "Jaguar 2") of 1983 which adopted the American Hughes TOW ATGM as its primary armament.
One-hundred sixty-two Jaguar 2 tanks were completed for their part in Cold War history (1947-1991) and these were conversions of existing 1960s-era "Kanonenjagdpanzer" gun-armed tank destroyer vehicles (detailed elsewhere on this site). The old tanks had their fixed gun armament removed and replaced by the missile launcher system complete with a revised hull superstructure. The angled sides were retained for basic ballistics protection.
As in German tracked tank destroyer vehicles prior, the RakJPz 4 was crewed by four (driver, commander, gunner, and loader) and powered by an MTU MB837 Aa V8 water-cooled diesel-fueled engine of 500 horsepower. Road speeds reached 70 kmh and ranges were out to 400 kilometers. Cross-country travel was aided by the torsion bar suspension system. Structurally, the compact tank had an overall length of 6.6 meters, a width of 3.1 meters, a height of 2.5 meters, and a weight of 24.8 tons. Armor protection reached 50mm and was this augmented by the addition of applique armor at critical facings while overall construction was of all-welded steel.
Beyond the TOW missile armament the RakJPz 4 carried a single 7.62mm MG3 machine gun for anti-infantry defense and was fielded with 8 x Smoke grenade dischargers, giving the vehicle a self-screening capability. In 1993, the TOW missile was given up in favor of the much-improved TOW-2 ATGM line for more tank-killing potency.
The RakJPz 4 was only operated by the West German Army and never exported. The line came to an end in 1993 as the Soviet Empire collapsed in 1991 and Germany had already become a reunited nation back in 1990 (reborn from its post-World War 2 East and West components). The Jaguar 2 line was superseded by the improved Jaguar 1A3 upgrade models, the Jaguar 1 tank destroyer detailed elsewhere on this site.
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