Based on the TAM medium tank chassis, Argentina fitted a Palmaria turret to become a 155mm self-propelled howitzer.
Designated as TAM VCA or VCA-155, the self-propelled gun entered service in the late 1990s. 17 guns were produced as a replacement for the French F3 self-propelled howitzer. The TAM VCA is in service only with Argentina.
The VCA 155 is essentially a lengthened TAM MBT chassis with seven road wheels either side, fitted with the same turret as installed on the Italian Oto Melara 155 mm/41 calibre Palmaria self-propelled howitzer, which was developed specifically for the export market. The VCA-155 inherits the characteristics of the TAM medium tank, with the driver on the front left, the power pack on the right, and the turret in the middle of the hull slightly to the rear. An auxiliary generator is mounted in the left side of the hull and, to increase the operational range of the system, two long-range drum type diesel fuel tanks are mounted at the rear of the hull.
The VCA’s armor is made of welded steel. The front plate is 50 mm thick and the sides and rear 35 mm. As with all vehicles of the TAM family, the VCA is equipped with an NBC protection system allowing the crew to operate in a contaminated area for up to 8 hours. There is also an automatic fire extinguishing system that can be triggered from the interior or exterior. Vehicle has a crew of five, including commander, gunner, charge handler, magazine operator and driver.
The all-welded aluminium turret is identical to that of the Oto Melara Palmaria 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. Firing standard 155 mm ammunition, a maximum range of 24 km can be achieved while a range of 30 km can be achieved with special ammunition. A semi-automatic projectile loading system is installed, with charges being loaded manually. This increases rate of fire and reduces crew fatigue. Secondary armament consists of a roof-mounted 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine gun. Vehicle is also fitted with four smoke grenade dischargers.
VCA has a weight of 40 tons, a length of 10.33 m, a width of 3.31 m, and a height of 3.20 m. The vehicle is equipped with a 720 hp MTU-MB 833 Ka-500 6-cylinder diesel engine, for a top road speed of 60 km/h, and a range of 470 km. Off-road or cross-country speed is limited to 40 km/h. The VCA can overcome 60% gradients, 30% side slopes, 1 m tall obstacles, and cross 2.9 m wide trenches. When it comes to fording, it is capable of fording 1.5 m-deep waters without preparation, increased to 2 m with preparation.
The VCA was first introduced to the public in a parade on July 9, 1989. They have not participated in any action since being introduced. VCA has proven to be a successful combination of a domestic platform and foreign technology. They would continue to serve for the next several decades, providing Argentina with some balance against regional rivals.