|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
The ASCOD 105 light tank has been developed as a private venture for the export market by ASCOD AIE which is jointly owned by General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas of Spain and Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Austria. Both of these companies are now part of General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems.
The ASCOD 105 light tank consists of a modified ASCOD armoured infantry fighting vehicle chassis which is already in production in Austria by Steyr-Daimler-Puch (for the Austrian Army who call it the Ulan) and in Spain by General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas (for the Spanish Army who call it the Pizarro).
It is fitted with the complete South African Denel Land Systems turret installed on the private venture South African, now BAE Systems Land Systems OMC Rooikat 105 mm armoured car (8 × 8) (covered in detail in a separate entry).
The first prototype of the ASCOD 105 light tank was completed late in 1996 and it has been demonstrated in Austria to a number of potential export customers, including some in Asia.
As of May 2006, no production contracts are known to have been placed for any versions of the ASCOD 105 light tank, although marketing continues.
The hull of the ASCOD 105 light tank is all-welded steel armour that provides protection from small arms fire and shell splinters.
The driver is seated front left with the power pack to the right and above his position is a single-piece hatch cover that lifts and opens to the rear. In front of this are three day periscopes, the centre one of which can be replaced by a passive periscope for driving at night.
The all-welded steel turret is in the centre with the commander and gunner on the right and the loader on the left. The commander has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and eight day periscopes for all-round observation and a roof-mounted stabilised day sight. He also has a monitor of the gunner's main thermal sight.
The gunner has a stabilised day/thermal sight incorporating a laser range-finder and an observation periscope. The loader has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear plus two day periscopes and a vision block. An ammunition resupply hatch is provided in the left side of the turret.
Main armament is a fully stabilised 105 mm Denel Land Systems GT 7 rifled tank gun that fires standard natures of 105 mm ammunition with a 7.62 mm machine gun mounted coaxial with the main armament and a roof-mounted 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun.
Suspension either side is of the torsion bar type with rotary dampers for the first and last road wheel stations. The suspension either side consists of seven dual rubber-tyred road wheels with the drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear and track-return rollers.
The rear hull door of the ASCOD armoured infantry fighting vehicle is retained.
If required, additional armour can be fitted to provide a higher level of battlefield survivability. This could be of the passive or explosive reactive type. The latter would provide a high level of protection against weapons fitted with a HEAT warhead.
Standard equipment for the ASCOD 105 includes an overpressure NBC system, fire detection and suppression system for engine compartment and a diesel-operated heater for driver and crew compartment.
First firing trials of the General Dynamics Land Systems 105 mm Low-Profile Turret (LPT) installed on an ASCOD infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) chassis were successfully carried out in the US late in 1998.
The LPT was originally developed in the early 1980s and first installed on a tracked chassis called the Armored Gun System and then the Direct Fire Support Vehicle.
The latest-generation LPT has a number of significant improvements and features a new turret structure that is lighter and stiffer. The 105 mm M68A1 rifled tank gun is fed by an automatic loader mounted below the turret ring and between the commander (seated on the right) and the gunner (seated on the left).
The 105 mm M68A1 gun has been fitted with a cam-operated drop-block breech assembly, bore evacuator, muzzle reference mounting collar and an integral muzzle brake. Low recoil is made possible by the installation of a four-cylinder recoil assembly.
By mounting the 105 mm M68A1 gun externally the LPT is not only much lighter than a conventional turret, allowing it to be installed on much lighter tracked and wheeled armour vehicles, but is also much smaller and therefore much more difficult to hit.
The 7.62 mm machine gun is mounted coaxial with the 105 mm M68A1 gun and a 7.62 or 12.7 mm machine gun or a 40 mm grenade launcher can be mounted at the commander's station.
The commander and gunner have day vision periscopes while the gunner's primary sight has a dual-axis stabilised head mirror, second-generation FLIR, eye-safe laser range-finder and eight direct viewing options.
The commander has a panoramic sight that allows the vehicle to undertake hunter/killer target engagements. Turret traverse and weapon control is all electric and stabilised and either commander or gunner can aim and fire the armament.
It was expected that the LPT would first be tested on a now General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada LAV-III (8 × 8) chassis. As this was not available, an offer to test it on the ASCOD was accepted by General Dynamics. Over 70 rounds of ammunition were fired while the vehicle was stationary and moving with the target also moving.
The aim of the trials was to validate the improvements carried out to the latest-generation LPT system. A further development of the LPT installed on the latest LAV-III chassis has been selected by the US Army to meet the Mobile Gun System requirement of its new Brigade Combat Team's. The MGS has also been selected by Canada as the replacement for its current Leopard 1 series tanks.
Canada is expected to order 66 MGSs, although these have a different role than the systems now in production for the US Army.
Early in 2000, the ASCOD chassis was fitted with the Italian Oto Melara 105LRF turret, which is standard on the 400 Centauro (8 × 8) vehicles delivered to the Italian Army and more recently the 22 Centauro (8 × 8) vehicles (plus a second batch of 62, which are now being delivered) delivered to Spain. Full details of this turret are given in the entry for the Italian Centauro (8 × 8) vehicle.
Firing trials were conducted with the vehicle stationary and moving with good results according to Steyr-Daimler-Puch.
Combat weight of this version is 29.49 tonnes.
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