TAMSE VCA-155

     Notes: Also known simply as the VCA, this self-propelled artillery vehicle is used only by Argentina.  It marries the TAP chassis (an abandoned heavy tank version of the TAM light tank) with the turret from the Italian Palmaria self-propelled artillery vehicle.  The VCA-155 was designed to replace the elderly AMX Mk F3 that the Argentines were using (and still use, until all of them have been replaced). The VCA-155 first entered service in 1997, but production rates have been slow and only 15 are in service.

     The TAP chassis is basically a lengthened version of the TAM with seven roadwheels on each side.  The VCA-155 is surprisingly modern, with equipment normally found in many 1st World SP howitzers.  This is not only due to forward-thinking engineers and designers, but also due to the Palmaria turret and its equipment.  This combat equipment includes fire control and mission plotting computers, inertial navigation, two long-range secure radios (one of which is slaved to the fire control equipment) as well as secure short and medium-range radios for general communications, and a digital link to the VCCDT FDC vehicle.  A system called TRUENO also allows the VCA-155 to operate in automatic mode, taking directions from the FDC, inputting them directly to the fire control computer, and requiring only that the howitzer charges be loaded manually.  Without the FDC, the gun has a basic, if uncomplicated, fire control system, capable of direct fire and requiring normal fire solution calculations for proper targeting (though this process is speeded up by the VCA-155’s computer). Like most modern vehicles, turret rotation is hydraulic with manual backup. The gun has a semiautomatic loader; it loads the rounds into the gun from a ready supply consisting of half its onboard ammunition, and requiring that the charges for the projectile be loaded manually.  This greatly reduces crew fatigue.

     Though the turret is the Palmaria’s turret, it uses an L/41 gun, rather than the Palmaria’s L/39 gun.  This gives it a slight edge in range while keeping costs down somewhat. (Italy developed the L/41 version of its L/39 gun specifically for the export market.)  The turret also has a coaxial machinegun.  The turret is slightly to the rear of center of the vehicle. The driver is on the front left, with the powerpack on his right; the front vision block can be switched between day and night channels.  The commander is in the turret on the right, with vision blocks surrounding his hatch and a pintle-mounted weapon; to his right in the turret is a loader’s hatch which is a simple hatch with no vision blocks and no weapon mount.  The gunner has night vision gear for the gun and general use, as well as a fire control equipment for direct fire if necessary. On each side of the turret is a bank of four smoke grenade launchers.  Vehicular ammunition supply is on the short side; the VCA-155 normally travels with several ammunition supply vehicles (normally high-capacity trucks).

     Power is provided by an MTU MB-833 Ka500 diesel engine, developing 720 horsepower, with an automatic transmission.  In addition, the VCA-155 has a 5kW APU that allows the VCA-155 to operate longer without the engine on.  Armor is welded aluminum, and is pretty decent compared to other SP howitzer vehicles.  The VCA-155 normally carries two drum-type long-range fuel tanks at the rear; unlike comparable Russian designs, these drums have fuel pumps which allow them to sit level with the rear of the vehicle, stopping fuel from pouring into the vehicle if they are hit.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$889,390

D, A

500 kg

40 tons

5

18

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

130/92

33/23

873+400

261

Trtd

T4

TF21  TS8  TR8  HF32  HS6  HR6

 

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

+2

Basic

155mm L/41 Howitzer, MAG, MAG (C)

47x155mm, 1700x7.62mm