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Taiwan developing new Cloud Leopard variant armed with 105 mm gun

Taiwan has begun developing a new variant of its Cloud Leopard (Yunpao) wheeled armoured vehicle fitted with a 105 mm gun.

Local media reported on 20 December that construction of two prototypes is expected to be completed before 2023, adding that the vehicles will also be armed with a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun and feature a remote weapon station mounting a 12.7 mm machine gun.

The reports stated that the main gun used for the prototypes will be a stabilised, low-recoil, 105 mm M68A2 rifled gun that will be sourced from the US Army’s Watervliet Arsenal and delivered to the island by September 2021.

Future mass production of the guns, which will most likely be mounted in a turret, is expected to take place in Taiwan through a technology transfer, according to the media reports.

Citing the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) defence budget for 2021, Taiwanese media reported that the MND’s Armament Bureau has set aside TWD768 million (USD27.3 million) to develop prototypes of a number of artillery vehicles by 2023.

Following the successful completion of trials and evaluation, the new Cloud Leopard variant, the designation of which has yet to be revealed, is set to begin series production and enter service with the Republic of China Army’s (RoCA’s) newly established ‘joint arms batallion’.

The RoCA currently operates several variants of the locally developed 8×8 Cloud Leopard armoured vehicle, including the 24-tonne CM-34 infantry fighting vehicle, which is armed with a stabilised Orbital ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster II 30 mm dual-feed cannon and a co-axial 7.62 mm machine gun.

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