The Tanque Argentino Mediano ("Argentine Medium Tank"), or TAM, 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 chassis of the German Marder infantry fighting vehicle.
The TAM met the Argentine Army's requirement for a modern light-weight and fast tank with a low silhouette and sufficient firepower to defeat contemporary armored threats. Development began in 1973 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 meters squared (103,333 ft²) TAMSE plant, founded for the purpose by the Argentine government. Economic difficulties halted to production in 1983, but manufacturing began anew in 1994 until the army's order of 200 tanks was fulfilled. The TAM series includes seven different variants, such as a 155 millimeter (6.1 in) self-propelled howitzer and a self-propelled mortar vehicle. In total, over 280 such vehicles were built, including armored personnel carriers, artillery and mortar pieces. The TAM and VCTP were manufactured for the Peruvian Army, only to be integrated into the Argentine Army when Peru canceled the contract under foreign pressure. The TAM also competed for other export orders, but the TAM was ultimately not exported. The TAM has never seen combat, although 17 armored personnel carriers based on the TAM chassis were deployed to the former Yugoslavia for a United Nations peacekeeping mission. (more)