The Leopard (or Leopard 1) is a main battle tank designed and produced in West Germany that first entered service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard focused on firepower in the form of the German-built version of the British L7 105-mm gun, and improved cross-country performance that was unmatched by other designs of the era.
The design started as a collaborative project between Germany and France in the 1950s but the partnership ended and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, production starting in 1965. In total 6,485 Leopard tanks have been built, of which 4,744 were battle tanks and 1741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants, not including eighty prototypes and pre-series vehicles.
The Leopard quickly became a standard of European forces, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide. Since 1990, the Leopard 1 has gradually been relegated to secondary roles in most armies. In the German Army, the Leopard 1 MBTs have been phased out in 2003 while Leopard 1 derived vehicles are still widely used.