|Manufacturer:||TAMSE Tanqu Argentino Mediano Sociedad Del Estado|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Self-propelled rocket launcher|
During the early 1980s, the Argentine TAMSE (Tanque Argentino Mediano Sociedad del Estado) concern, which was originally formed to manufacture the German Rheinmetall Landsysteme TAM medium tank, began to investigate a joint venture with Israel Military Industries Ltd to fit the company's modular rocket systems (covered in detail in a separate entry) onto the TAM chassis.
In 1986, the first prototype vehicle, called the Vehiculo de Combate Lanza Cohetes (VCLC) underwent trials with the 160 mm LARS 160 rocket system. In early 1988, a second version was trialled with the 350 mm calibre MAR 350 system.
It is understood that a small quantity of VCLC-CAL 160 are now in service with the Argentine Army. Production of the TAM chassis on which the VCLC is based was completed some years ago. The TAM tank is only used by Argentina, although it was offered on the export market by Argentina along with the original German version, called the TH 301. Rheinmetall has ceased all marketing of this family of tracked vehicles.
The major differences between the VCLC and the TAM medium tank chassis (originally designed and developed in Germany and covered in detail in a separate entry) include modification of the full-tracked chassis to incorporate additional hydraulic suspension, movement suppression systems to absorb the recoil forces during rocket launching and fitting of a new two-person fully enclosed armoured turret. The actual rocket launcher is mounted on top of this turret towards the rear. This allows the launcher to be traversed left and right. It is provided with bullet proof windows for crew observation purposes.
Support arms for the rocket system modules are fitted at the rear of the turret on either side. They are traversed and elevated using the turret's electrohydraulic power unit. No modifications are needed if a change between the rocket types is required. For self-protection and limited air defence, a pintle-mounted 7.62 mm MAG or 0.30 in Browning MG is mounted above the front of the turret.
When the LARS 160 rocket system is carried the vehicle is designated the VCLC-CAL. This has two 18-round 160 CAL pod container-launchers that, once fired, are unloaded and replaced in a secure area by a supporting vehicle.
In Argentine Army trials, the vehicle used was an United States supplied M809 Series (6 × 6) 5 ton flatbed truck fitted with a 12,000 kg capacity hydraulically operated extendable crane and carrying two of the 160 CAL pods. The whole reloading operation takes approximately 10 minutes.
If fitted with the MAR 350 system the vehicle is designated the VCLC-CAM and has two pairs of side-by-side cylindrical container-launchers for CAM 350 rockets. The resupply operation is similar to that used for the VCLC-CAL vehicle.
In combat the basic six-launcher VCLC battery will have a truck-mounted fire-control radar system. Its job is to monitor the first ranging shot for between two-thirds to three-quarters of its flight. The round is deliberately aimed offset from the target so as not to alert it. The tracking data obtained is then fed into the vehicle's fire-control computer and used to calculate the launch information, which is then transmitted to the battery launchers.