Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) showcased a prototype of the next-generation 8×8 Cloud Leopard II armoured vehicle development in public for the first time at the 2019 Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE) exhibition held from 15 to 17 August.
The M2 prototype is the second of two Cloud Leopard II development testbeds built by the 209th Arsenal at the MND Armament Bureau's Materiel Production Centre (MPC) in partnership with the Hsinchu-based Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Both vehicles have been in trials since 2017, with operational testing expected to conclude at the end of 2019 and serial production to commence thereafter should an order be placed by the MND.
Specifications provided to Jane's by the 209th Arsenal on 17 August reveal that the Cloud Leopard II M2 prototype vehicle currently has a combat weight of 24 and is approximately 7.6 m long, 3 m wide, and 2.4 m high.
It is also equipped with a comparable powerpack with the in-service CM-32/33 Cloud Leopard armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and the forthcoming CM-34 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the Republic of China Army (RoCA), comprising a Caterpillar C9 diesel engine coupled to an Allison HD4560P automatic transmission, although engine output has been increased from 410hp to 450hp.
A major modification carried over from the M1 prototype unveiled at the 2017 edition of TADTE is a new hydropneumatic suspension system, which replaces the double wishbone suspension of the current Cloud Leopard APCs. It is understood that the latter configuration had drawn criticism from RoCA users about its ride quality and responsiveness.
Lieutenant Colonel Su Jen-pao, deputy chief of research and development at the 209th Arsenal, told Jane's that the hydropneumatic suspension system enables the chassis to be raised or lowered by 80 mm in each direction, allowing the driver to optimise the vehicle's ride height.
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