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Apr 15, 2013

Patagon light tank



Today we are going to have a look at the new Argentinian Patagon light tank. The similiarity with the AMX-13 and SK-105 is obvious at first glance - that's because it's a hybrid of the two, a SK-105 chassis with a FL-12 turret from AMX-13.

History

The AMX-13 had always a special place within the South American armies - in fact, 5 out of 12 current users are from South America (plus an unknown number being used in Mexico). A leightweight and successful French design from the 50's, it continues to serve and soldier on in around a dozen armies all over the world. South American armies also have this thing for modifications - nearly all South-American AMX-13's were refitted somehow, either with refitted engines and fire control systems (Ecuador), or with a different gun (Venezuelan variant). Peruvian "Escorpion" AMX-13/105 variant is certainly one of the extreme examples of AMX-13 (as a tank) modification, carrying a 105mm L/44 cannon, a FCS from Ukraine and a twin AT-3 Sagger rocket launcher, plus an improved engine (Detroit Diesel 6V-53T, or the French Badouin 6F11SRY), allowing it to go as fast as 65km/h.

Escorpion



One of those aforementioned armies, which purchased the AMX-13 was Argentina. Argentina had some tank-constructing tradition from last 70 years, one of first being the Nahuel ("Jaguar" in native language, basically a Sherman ripoff), another being the modern TAM vehicle. Argentina recieved around 60 AMX-13/105 "Modéle 58" vehicles, equipped with a new 105 mm gun (GIAT 105G1 - L/44, used on the Kürrasier) and the FL-12 turret. Argentinian AMX-13's were further modified with diesel engine instead of the original SOFAM engines (KHD V-8 diesels, 260hp). Other sources state that the vehicles kept their original engines to be replaced by Deutz diesels during the 1979 modernisation.

Argentinian AMX-13/105


Apparently, Argentine bought a batch of these vehicles in the early 70's and curiously enough, they were accepted into service as tank destroyers, not light tanks (much like the Swiss AMX-13's, or the SK-105 Kürrasier). As mentioned earlier, a refit was carried out first in 1979 and then in 1999, but it is known that by the end of their service, the vehicle was still using the first generation night vision system. The AMX-13 tanks served in the army of Argentine for 40 years, last ones (26 pieces) being phased out in 2012. A number of leftover spare parts, including the FL-12 turrets were left over from them and in early 2000's a plan was made to combine them with another design.


We now have one piece of the puzzle. Let's look at the other one: the SK-105 Kürrasier.

The Kürrasier is a light tank/tank destroyer, developed by Steyr-Daimler-Puch (ex Saurer) in 1967. It resembles the AMX-13 a lot, using the same gun and turret as the AMX-13/105, although the chassis is different. It did not gain as wide popularity as the AMX-13 and has fewer users, despite its qualities (in South America it is Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil). Argentine bought apparently (as a second export customer, the first being Tunis) 57 of these vehicles in 1981 as a part of a 120-tank order (other soures claim 118 - 112 SK-105 and 6 "Greif" recovery vehicles based on it), that was finished in 1982. Apparently, the first 100 Kürrasiers were intended for Chile, but because of political reasons, the Austrians decided to offer them to Argentina instead.

And so we get to the "VC SK-105s Patagón". The basic decision was taken in the early 2000's to develop a native SK-105/AMX-13 hybrid. The basic construction is the Kürrasier hull and the AMX-13 FL-12 turret. The turrets were produced (along with the guns) in Argentina from the early 60's, however, the Patagón FL-12 turret is not the original FL-12, but an overhauled model, made by Fives-Cail-Babcock (this overhauled version was used also on the Argentinian AMX-13's and was most likely installed during the 1999 refit) - note that a gun refit program from the same company allows the vehicle to fire the APDS rounds.

A prototype was unveiled on 24.11.2005 by the CIC of the Argentinian Army, general Roberto Bendini in Buenos Aires. The vehicle was to be manufactured in an assembly plant in Comodoro, under the supervision of Steyr advisors.

What happened then? It is unclear. According to some sources, the production started and continued until 2007, with 40 pieces manufactured. Either way, in late 2008, the Patagon program was cancelled by the Ministry of Defense of Argentine "after a thorough analysis". The reason for cancellation was apparently the costs (the vehicles were very expensive with 20 mil USD per piece), the fact the active Kürrasiers in Argentinian army could perform the same task and also the fact the vehicle manufacture faced some serious delays. The remaining parts left over from the AMX-13 decommissions were instead transferred to the repair shops, responsible for keeping the 155mm F3 and VCL vehicles in running condition.

There are also lingering doubts over the effectivity of the aging 105mm gun, one however has to look at what the vehicle would face - perfectly adequate for the region.

Patagón in numbers

Weight: 16,5 tons
Maximum speed: 70 km/h
Range: 520 km
Engine power: 300hp
Armament: 105mm Giat 105G1, 7,62mm MG
Length: 5.582m
Width: 2,5m

In World of Tanks?

This vehicle is way too modern to have any chance to appear in WoT, even though I suppose it could be balanced around T8-T10, considering it has no reactive armor, very thin armor by itself and cannot shoot ATGM's.

Sources:
www.valka.cz
http://www.modelersite.com/Jul2001/English/Kurassier_Eng.htm
http://tanknutdave.com/the-sk-105-aka-kuerassier/
http://en.mercopress.com/2005/11/24/argentine-army-tank-assembly-plant-in-comodoro
http://www.dibdias.com/2008/12/argentina-cancels-patagn-tank-project.html
http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?63069-New-Argentinian-Tank-VC-Tan-%93Patag%F3n%94
Jane's Armour and Artillery 2011-2012
and others


23 comments:

  1. I wonder if any of these will make an appearance on the Falkland Islands... or is it Las Malvinas. I never can tell.

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    Replies
    1. Doubt it, even if the Argentinian army could actually field this tanks its is very doubtful that it would make the trip down there.

      The Chiftain did a small article about the Falkland Island war and the limited presence of armored vehicles: http://forum.worldoftanks.com/index.php?/topic/131998-the-last-classic-war/

      (Alhazred US)

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  2. Do you know something I don't?

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  3. its the falklands and I doubt any argentine vehicle will ever make it onto a landing ship never mind on the beach, unless it can go 70Mph in reverse

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  4. As far as I know, while the project called for 40 tanks, the number of Patagón built or (Frankestein-ed, hah) is no more than five.

    Fun fact: here it was advertised as an Argentinian built tank, the fact that it was made from French and Austrian tanks was never really mentioned, politicians spoke of it as if it was the new TAM (Tanque Argentino Mediano (Argentinian Medium Tank)).

    Speaking about that, I remember someone from WGNA saying that the Nahuel could be added to the game. I know, coming from WGNA, and not RU, it doesn't really mean much, but it is an Argentinian tank that could really fit in the game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahuel

    (Alhazred US)

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    Replies
    1. I know about Nahuel actually... and yes, on EU it was said it would make it into the game too, probably a decent tier 5 premium tank

      Delete
    2. Nice! Good to know it was talked about on the EU side too. I kinda like that tank. =)

      I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for the article and the blog, and also thank everyone who writes articles for it, you guys do an awesome job

      (Alhazred US)

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  5. I realy like this. This blog becomes better and better every day!

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  6. Perfectly adequate for the region? What about the Leopard 2s serving with the chilean army?

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    Replies
    1. Well, it's not like the Patagons would go head to head with those... and I doubt Leopard 2's will do great in mountaineous regions, whereas the SK-105 chassis was actually built specifically for such terrains. Plus, if the 105mm GIAT's have the Babcock upgrade kit, they can fire APFSDS rounds and those probably could knock a Leopard 2 out.

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    2. Probably not - Mr Lakowski believes the leopard 2A4 to have around 700mm effective frontal armour against KE. That's a tall order for the 105mm L7, nevermind a low recoil 105mm.

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    3. Well, I doubt that in case of a conflict, Patagons would be slugging it out with Leopard 2's just like that.

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    4. About the montainous terrain, the Leopard 2s are supposed to play a defensive role on the chilean territory. I read on a newspaper that the Chilean government purchased them, thinking in a simultaneous conflict against three neighbouring countries. That said, they aren't meant to cross the Andes, but to defend the chilean side of the Andes.
      Oh, and the 105mm is pretty much effective against any other tanks in the region (Peruvian T-54/55s, Bolivian Kurassiers and Brazilian Leopard 1s)

      Delete
  7. 20 million EACH? Damn, you could get half a dozen MBT's for that.

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    Replies
    1. Well, that's what the article said... I have read some argentinian forum posts claiming the price was horribly overstated because of corruption.

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  8. Great article. I enjoy learning about armor in different parts of th world. I wouldn't have even though of the export markets for the AMX. This content is why you're at almost 2 million page views. Congrats.

    Wirbelwind42
    NA Server

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  9. Im from Argentina...check your info next time...and the nahuel its NOT a rippoff...again check the blueprint date...

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    Replies
    1. "...El diseño final claramente estaba inspirado en el M4 Sherman norteamericano..."

      Taken right away from es.wikipedia

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  10. I wasn't aware that mexico had AMX-13s. I was under the impression that we didn't have any tracked AFVs, color me surprised

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    Replies
    1. Wikipedia states Mexico possibly have some AMX-13 derived vehicles... not sure

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  11. as an Argentine who lived that time, I can assure you that those decades were terrible for the Argentine armed forces. After the fall of the military government and the subsequent government of President Alfonsin, followed by a series of presidents that dismembered the little that remained of the Armed Forces after the Falklands War. The government was filled with corrupt politicians and the national crisis was such that the country seemed bankrupt. Todabia we still "recovering" from those infamous decades. Currently the Argentine armed forces are returning to have some weight, but todabia missing many unfinished projects, as continuation of production of Patagons and construction of the TAP (Argentinian Heavy Tank).
    BTW I appreciate you posted an article about a tank that I requested, and it's really cool indeed

    -Prium NA

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    Replies
    1. No problem, glad for the additional insight

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  12. Im argentinian, and the actual situation of our Armed forces is the worst in all our histoy... there is no TAP, there is nothing, we lost by accident or retire helicopters, ships, fighters, etc.
    The goverment made public declaration where they said "we will not expend a a cent for buy weapons", "we are a pacific country with respect for human rights, we dont need buy tools for war", "we trust in the UNASUR", and shit like that.
    Please google how our army is (having soliders to buy ther food, offciers their personal equipment that should be provided, buying radios by themselves, etc), ver aged machines, lost of model helicopters, lost of antartic capabilitys, lost of antisubmarine warfare systems and torpedos without raplace, lost of antitank weapons, lost of fighter force, lost of supersonic capabilitys, un-existense of antiair systems, half of the fleet with 70% of combat systems and engines out of service, 2 of 3 submarines in dock without sealing, cut of the already low hours of sealing and flight time to 1/4 (and we had 1/3 of the NATO hours sinde the 2000's by cuts), etc, etc, etc. Our situation is horrible anddangerous, we are a country with the ass in the air waiting a rape trusting in the good will of the world...

    The "Patagón" was a monster, each one cost is far more expensive than buy new Leopard II, is was a case of high corruption between the Ministry of Defense and some High rank officers who made business with it. Plus the Army never wanted it considering is an outgraded model not capable for the actual war conditions. With that money they could upgrated the Kurassiers and 13-105 and the TAM. Finnally, when the people in the program got their Swiss bank account with more money the program was cancelled, now the money is good invested in the TAM Modernization by ELBIT with Merkava IV combat systems (TAM 2C).

    By the way, the 13 90's in Argentina were manufactured locally, not imported, a first batch came from France while the Army bought the know-how and tools to manufacturing it. Cannon, turret, chasis, were manufactured lately here, (the first chasis were just welded and came from France, the late were local). The SK-105 turret anc gun guns locally produced too, and the chasis bought in kit to be finished here.

    Greetings.

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