TAMSE TAM

     Notes: This is a light tank designed in the mid-1970s for the Argentine Army as a companion to the VCTP armored personnel carrier.  Prototypes appeared in 1977, with full production beginning in 1979.  The TAM was developed primarily German engineers, but there was considerable design input by Argentine engineers, who advised on what they needed in a medium tank, the threats from other countries, and moist of all, what could be accomplished with the available budget.  Most TAMs were, in fact built in Argentina, with knock-down kits being supplied to the TAMSE plant in Argentina to allow them to study design before undertaking production. Economic difficulties ended production prematurely in 1983, but manufacturing began in 1994, after which the Armyís request for 200 TAMs was finally fulfilled. Budgetary difficulties cut short the sales to Argentine Army, but then some of the surplus was sold to Malaysia Ecuador, and Thailand after upgrading, and production was ramped up again.  (These vehicles are known as TH-301s.)  The TAM is in fact part of family of vehicles based on the same chassis.

 

TAM

     Based on a lengthened Marder chassis, the TAM (Tanque Argentino Mediano, the Argentine name for the vehicle) is topped with a turret mounting a 105mm Rheinmetall Rh-105-30 smoothbore gun. gun.  The gun is stabilized in only one plane. The coaxial machinegun is an Argentine-built version of the FN MAG. There is a driverís hatch on the front left of the deck; the turret is mounted in the rear of the vehicle with a commander and loaderís hatches on the turret deck.  In the rear of the hull is a door that is normally used for resupply, but can be used as a quick exit for the crew if the vehicle is taken out of action. 

     Optics have been criticized by defense experts as being inadequate, especially in the light of what optics were available at the time.  Fire control consists of a ballistic computer and a laser rangefinder with a range of 9900 meters, far outranging the main gun, but useful for determining distances to terrain features.

     The engine is a MTU MB-883 Ka500 diesel engine. It has a basic turbocharger, and uses an automatic transmission.  The engine, combined with the light weight, gives the TAM lots of agility. The TAM carries a pair of two 200-liter armored drums of extra fuel, to extend range.  Though these are in fact vulnerable enemy fire, the tanks do have an AV of 6 from all angles and are self-sealing.  The tanks are carried above the level of the deck, allowing fuel to easily flow out of them.  (Argentine Army policy is to use the extra fuel first.)  The TAM is NBC-Sealed and NBC-filtered fans to help increase comfort; it is not, however, an air conditioner.

     The TAMís armor is primarily of all-welded steel.  Most defense experts consider the TAMís armor to be inadequate for its role, but the Argentines were willing to sacrifice protection for lighter weight, and therefore, speed and agility.  Perhaps the most obvious feature of the TAM is its low-profile turret, with most working space being inside the turret basket. The gun has 20 rounds in a compartment in the turret bustle, but 30 rounds are stored in non-protected storage in the turret, protected only the hull floor armor, which is, to itís credit, somewhat thicker than one might expect from its class of vehicle. The TAM is capable of fording up to four meters of water.  Suspension is by torsion bars

 

TH-301

     The Argentines were, to a large extent, hamstrung by their own economy when they built the TAM.  The Germans were not nearly so restricted, and they saw a market for an improved version of the TAM.  The TH-301 version of the TAM was the version that the Thais bought; beyond that, no sales were made, and the Germans eventually took the TH-301 off the market. Most countries were, unfortunately, interested in Main Battle Tanks and not medium tanks.

     The TH-301 has an all-round refit for its vision system, from adjustable telescopic optical sights to thermal imaging to four-way day/night CCD cameras. It also has improved fire control and stabilization. The engine is a new design, a 750-horsepower turbocharged diesel with a mighty output of 750 horsepower, coupled to a fully-automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. .Externally, the TH-301 looks almost like a TAM, with the lengthened Marder chassis and  the low-profile turret and the 105mm ordnance.  However, the TH-301 has slightly improved armor with higher-quality steel, and has side skirts. The suspension is mostly by torsion bar, but the Germans learned from the TAM and put a shock absorber on the front and rear roadwheels.  The TH-301 is NBC-Sealed and has NBC filters for its air conditioner. Major attention has been given to the maintenance and servicing of the vehicle; for example, the TH-301 has a unitary power pack and it may be removed in one piece.

 

TAM 2C

     The TAM 2C is a heavily-upgraded version of the TAM.  In the early 2000s, the Argentines felt they needed a tank that was more survivable on the battlefield.  They looked at the Leopard 2A4, the Leclerc, the Merkava, the T-80,  It was decided, however, that these vehicles were too expensive to buy, use, and maintain, and that a cheaper upgrade to the TAM would be more in line with the Argentine budget.  The Argentines contacts a variety of firms to design and do the upgrades, including Elbit in Israel and several Argentine firms. Yet some defense analysts criticize the TAM 2C as not enough of an upgrade, considering its likely opponents in South America, and that the Argentines passed on deals for far better main battle tanks.  As medium tanks go, the TAM 2C is a reasonably up-to-date vehicle, however.

A large bustle rack has been added to the rear of the turret. Side skirts have also been added.  Below the bustle rack, mounted on the back of the hull, is a 10kW APU for silent running.  (The APU is at the back of the vehicle and seems to lack any armor.) Turret operation was changed from a hydraulic system to an all-electric system.  Despite the increase in armor, new armor composition technology means that the TAM 2C is actually lighter than the TAM.  Some TAM 2Cs sport a large rack that stretch across the entire rear deck and is about a meter wide and high.

     The TAM 2C has a thermal imager as well as a backup camera for the driver. The gunner and commander were given a thermal imager as well as a day/night CCD camera.  The commander also has as part of his cupola a laser rangefinder and laser designator. The commanderís sight head gives the TAM 2C a hunter/killer capability. An onboard computer was added, both as a vehicle state computer and as a mapping computer; the TAM 2C has inertial navigation.  The computer system also provides a ballistic computer program to the gun and coaxial, as well as providing LCD interfaces for the gunner, commander, and driver. 

     The gun is more properly stabilized, due to strategically-placed counterweights as well as the addition of a thermal sleeve.  The current gun is a 105mm Rheinmetall Rh-105-30 smoothbore gun, but a possible future upgrade is the 120mm smoothbore gun used by most NATO and Western tanks. The gun is also more effective due to the capability of firing more, different types of ammunition, including the Israeli LAHAT and a new long-rod tungsten APFSDS-T round.  The gun has 20 rounds in a compartment in the turret bustle which is similar in concept to that of the M1 series, but 30 rounds are stored in non-protected storage in the turret floor.

     The chassis is essentially an up-armored version of the German Marder, with the same MTU MB-883 Ka500 diesel engine.  An improved  turbocharger has been added, however, and this increases output to 740 horsepower., This is linked to a fully automatic transmission, along with power brakes and power steering. Armor has been improved in general, particularly on the glacis, turret front, and turret sides., this armor is generally all-welded steel. But also incorporates some advanced armor in strategic places.  The armor is said to be a version of the Israeli Iron Wall armor. The suspension base is the same as the standard TAM, but there are also shock absorbers on the front two and the rear roadwheels. The TAM 2C has an ability to detect a laser designation beam and automatically launch smoke.

     The commander has an electrically-powered cupola with an Argentine-built version of the MAG on a pintle. The TAM 2C retains the bank of four smoke grenade launchers on either side of the rear of the turret. The crew benefits from air conditioning and NBC Overpressure protection.

     Some TAM 2Cs have been seen with the TAMís extra fuel tanks at the rear.  This appears to have been discontinued after the addition of the APU.  The TAM 2C, however, retains the ability to mount those extra fuel tanks as the rear.

     Twilight 2000 Notes: When the Twilight War intervened, production and the undelivered vehicles were shifted to domestic use.

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

TAM

$678,494

D, A

508 kg

31.6 tons

4

29

Passive IR, Image Intensification

Shielded

TH-301

$909,066

D, A

521 kg

31.6 tons

4

21

Passive IR, Image Intensification, Day/Night CCD Camera (G, C), Day/Night CCD Camera (Backup)

Shielded

TAM 2C

$1,251,883

D, A

507 kg

30.5 tons

4

24

Thermal Imaging (D, G, C), Day/Night CCD Camera (G, C), Day/Night CCD Camera (Backup) (D)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

TAM

158/111

44/31

650+400

268

Trtd

T4

TF26  TS8  TR8  HF32  HS6  HR6*

TH-301

164/114

45/32

650+400

279

Trtd

T5

TF28Sp  TS10Sp  TR8  HF34Sp  HS8Sp  HR6*

TAM 2C

167/117

46/32

650+400

275

Trtd

T5

TF31Cp  TS10Sp  TR8 HF38Cp  HS7Sp  HS6**

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

TAM

+2

Fair

105mm Rheinmetall Gun, MG3, MG-3 (C)

50x105mm, 3000x7.62mm

TH-301

+3

Fair

105mm Rheinmetall Gun, MG3, MG3 (C)

50x105mm, 3000x7.62mm

TAM 2C

+4

Good

105mm Rheinmetall Gun,  MAG, MAG (C)

50x105mm, 3000x7.62mm

*Turret Roof Armor is AV6. Hull Roof Armor is AV5,  Hull Floor armor is AV6, except for the front third of the floor, which is AV7.

** Roof AV is 7, Floor Armor is 8Sp.