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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Jane's Armour and Artillery 2011-2012