The Tanque Argentino Mediano (TAM; English: Argentine Medium Tank) is the main battle tank in service with the Argentine Army. Lacking the experience and resources to design a tank, the Argentine Ministry of Defense contracted German company Thyssen-Henschel. The vehicle was developed by a German and Argentine team of engineers, and was based on the German Marder infantry fighting vehicle.
The TAM met the Argentine Army's requirement for a modern, lightweight and fast tank with a low silhouette and sufficient firepower to defeat contemporary armored threats. Development began in 1974 and resulted in the construction of three prototypes by early 1977 and full-scale production by 1979. Assembly took place at the local 9,600-square-meter (103,000 sq ft) TAMSE plant, founded for the purpose by the Argentine government. Economic difficulties halted production in 1983, but manufacturing began anew in 1994 until the army's order of 200 tanks was fulfilled.
The TAM has never seen combat, although 17 VCTP were deployed to Croatia for the United Nations UNPROFOR peacekeeping mission.
In service 1983–present
Unit cost 1,500,000 USD (1983 export price)
Produced 1979–1991, 1994–1995
No. built 280
Weight 30.5 t (30.0 long tons; 33.6 short tons)
Length 6.75 m (22 ft 2 in)Width 3.25 m (10 ft 8 in)Height 2.42 m (7 ft 11 in)
105 mm (4.13 in) FM K.4 Modelo 1L
2×7.62 mm (0.30 in) machine gun
EngineMTU-MB 833 Ka-500 6-cylinder22.4 L (1,370 cu in) diesel
540 kW (720 hp)
Power/weight 24 hp/tonne
590 km (370 mi), 800 km (500 mi) with auxiliary fuel tanksSpeed 75 km/h (47 mph)
Hull & protection
Externally, the TAM can be compared to a Marder IFV fitted with a rear Leopard turret. The hull is constructed of welded laminated steel RHA. The hull has a pointed nose, a very long sloped glacis plate, 50 mm thick (1.97 inches at 75 degrees) protecting the powerplant and transmission. The engine is frontally mounted, which was uncommon at the time. The engine compartment was on the left-hand side, separated from the driver (right-hand side) and fighting compartment (rear) by fireproof bulkheads. The driver had a one-piece hatch opening to the right, and three periscopes covering the frontal arc, while the central one could be replaced by an IR vision block for driving by night or in poor visibility. The engine could be accessed by a single very large hatch, opening to the right, which allowed access to most of the engine parts and allowed the lifting and replacement of the engine as a single unit on the field. The hull was made entirely waterproof and the TAM could, therefore, cross 1.40 m of water or up to 4 meters depth after preparation. A snorkel was then installed at the rear, over the engine louvers. Exhaust fumes were conducted along the hull, exiting to the rear. NBC protection is also provided as a standard.
The main fighting compartment was placed at the rear. The hull’s sides were also sloped at 32 degrees, protecting against anti-armor shells from guns up to 35 mm (1.38 inch) in caliber. The choice was made to increase mobility over protection and play on the low profile of the tank to make it a difficult target to spot and hit. In addition, a generous array of smoke grenades (and later flares) was added to provide an extra layer of active protection. The sloped sides received a large array of fixations and straps to carry tools and a steel cable. Provisions were also made for the fording equipment, and for extra skirts along the sides for protection. As a standard, only the front and rear mudguards had side extensions in the early production model.