Spanish Pizarro in Madrid, 2006.
|Type||Armoured fighting vehicle|
|Place of origin|| Spain
|Weight||28 tonnes (30.9 short tons)|
|Length||6.83 m (22 ft)|
|Width||3.64 m (12 ft)|
|Height||2.43 m (8 ft)|
|Crew||3 + 8 passengers|
|30 mm Mauser MK 30-2|
|MG3 7.62 mm (Pizarro)
MG74 7.62 mm (Ulan)
600 hp (Pizarro)
720 hp (Ulan)
|Speed||Road: 72 km/h|
The ASCOD (Austrian Spanish Cooperation Development) armoured fighting vehicle family is the product of a cooperation agreement between Austrian Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG (in 1998 the production of heavy armed vehicles was sold out under the name Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug, which is now the producer) and Spanish Santa Bárbara Sistemas (both companies are now divisions of a unit of General Dynamics). The ASCOD family includes the LT 105, a light tank equipped with a 105 mm gun, a SAM launcher, an anti-tank missile launcher, mortar carrier, R&R vehicle, Command & Control vehicle, ambulance, artillery observer, and the AIFV model. In Spanish service the vehicle is called Pizarro, while the Austrian version is called Ulan.
The ASCOD was designed to replace the older light armoured fighting vehicles of the Austrian and Spanish armies, such as the M113 armored personnel carrier. The Ulan, the Austrian version of the Pizarro, would provide a flexible complement to their heavy Leopard 2A4. The Ulan would allow the Austrian army to deploy rapidly and effectively over longer distances, especially for foreseeable future operations - such as troubled spots for UN operations. The first prototype of the ASCOD IFV was ready and tested by 1992 and production was possible only four years later. The ASCOD was a very modern solution to bring both the Austrian and Spanish armour up to date. To put this into perspective, the Pizarro project was a part of the greater Project CORAZA (Project Armour) which was to replace Spain's M113 APCs, M60A3s, and M110 artillery pieces. A similar upgrade program was also concurrently underway in Austria. By 2005 the Austrian army was equipped with 112 Ulan vehicles and Spain with 144 (123 IFV and 21 C2V). In 2004 the Spanish Ministry of Defence ordered another 212 Pizarros (170 IFV, 5 C2V, 28 Artillery observation, 8 recovery, 1 Engineering vehicle) for 707.5 million Euros, with up to 356 units total planned. By 2010 the cost of this second batch had increased to €845m.
The ASCOD mounts a 30 mm Mauser cannon in a fully traversable electro-mechanical turret. The 30 mm cannon, stabilized on two planes, is able to fire on the move at a rate of up to 800 rounds per minute. It also carries a 7.62 mm machine gun as a secondary armament, carrying up to 205 rounds for the 30 mm gun and 700 for the 7.62 mm machine gun. This armament is comparable to that of the M2 Bradley and the CV90, and performed well in a Norwegian vehicles trial, although it ultimately lost to the Swedish CV90. The gun uses the Mk-10 fire control system from Indra, which has a full solution digital ballistic computer, day channel, thermal channel and laser rangefinder. Future versions of the Mk-10 will be fitted with a new VC2 thermal imager. The ASCOD Pizarro is also very well armoured, with a thick steel armour casing protected against up to 14.5 mm bullets at 500 meters, with all around protection against 7.62 mm ammunition. Furthermore, the turret has two grenade launchers on either side to fire smoke grenades. The Pizarro is also fitted with limited amounts of SABBLIR reactive armour and might be upgraded with more later. However, with appliqué steel plates fitted it can be protected against 30 mm armour-piercing discarding sabots (APDS).
Additional ballistic protection is available against up to 30mm APFDS (Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot) rounds fired from a 1,000m range over the forward 60° arc, and all round protection against 14.5mm armour piercing incendiary (API) rounds from a range of 500m. In terms of mobility, the Spanish Pizarro is fitted with a 600 horsepower (450 kW) engine, while the Austrian Ulan includes a 720 horsepower (540 kW) engine. The smaller Spanish engine gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 21, and the larger engine one of 25, offering both vehicles excellent mobility. Both versions use a Renk HSWL 106C hydro-mechanical transmission, and torsion bar suspension. The Pizarro can go a maximum speed of 70 km/h, and a maximum reverse speed of 35 km/h.
Currently Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeuge is developing an improved version called Ulan 2, which features the Russian BMP-3 turret and additional armour.
In June 2008, GDELS, in conjunction with KMW, announced Donar, a medium-weight 155 mm self-propelled artillery system based on the KMW PzH 2000 artillery system integrated with the ASCOD 2 chassis. A prototype has begun mobility and firing trials in Germany.
To date, the ASCOD has not seen combat.
ASCOD Pizarro is built by Santa Bárbara Sistemas. It has multiple variants.
- VCI/C - Infantry / Cavalry Vehicle; This is the basic ASCOD Pizarro.
- VCPC - Command Vehicle
- VCOAV - (Vehículo de Observación Avanzada) Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle
- VCREC - Recovery Vehicle
- VCZ - Engineering Vehicle
- LT-105 Light Tank - A light tank, designed for the export market, with a 105 mm gun. There are three turrets available, each made by a different manufacturer. These manufacturers are Oto Melara, General Dynamics, and Denel Land Systems (formally known as LIW). The vehicles for the Royal Thai Marine Corps will use the turret from Denel.
- Donar - Medium 155mm SPA based on the KMW PzH 2000
ASCOD Ulan is built by Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeuge. It includes a more powerful 530 kW engine, and a different fire control system built by Kollsman.
ASCOD SV (also called the ASCOD 2 SV) is the ASCOD variant chosen for the British Army’s Specialist Vehicle Programme, and will be built by General Dynamics UK. The overall program has three blocks. The first, Recce Block 1 comprises four variants:
- Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS)
These vehicles are the replacements for CVR(T) Scimitar, Spartan and Samson.
Recce Block 2 is expected to include ambulance, engineer reconnaissance and command & control replacements for CVR(T) Samaritan and Sultan.
The ASCOD SV is planned to include the following upgrades:
- The main weapon will be a 40mm Case Telescopic Weapon System (CT40 cannon).
- The armour will provide basic ballistic and mine protection, with upgrade add-on packages for improved protection when needed.
- The chassis will be upgraded with enhanced suspension combining torsion bars and hydraulic dampers.
- Enhanced powertrain comprising 600 kW (805 BHP) MTU V8 199 diesel engine and Renk 256B fully automatic transmission.
- The welded turret will be built by Lockheed Martin UK.
The vehicle normal combat weight is 34 tonnes.
- Austria - 112 ASCOD Ulan
- Spain - 356 ASCOD Pizarro (293 VCI/C, 26 VCPC, 28 VCOAV, 8 VCREC, and 1 VCZ)
- United Kingdom - In development - 580 SV variant planned.
- Quod Vadis Armour?
- Santa Bárbara Sistemas website on ASCOD
- Candil, pg. 42
- Principales Programas de Armamento de DGAM
- Ministry of Defence
- Army Technology website on ASCOD
- Ministerio de Defensa (September 2011). "Evaluación de los Programas Especiales de Armamento (PEAs)" (in Spanish). Madrid: Grupo Atenea. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- Military Today website on the Ulan
- General Dynamics European Land Systems Press Release
- Britain to buy GD UK Vehicles
- Denel Land Systems website describing the turret for ASCOD
- General Dynamics UK team awarded contract to deliver Specialist Vehicle for British Army
- General Dynamics Scout SV Media
- ASCOD 2 data on the Army Recognition website
- Candil, Antonio J. "Spain's Armor Force Modernizes" in Armor, March 1, 1998. Fort Knox, KY: US Army Armor Center. ISSN 0004-2420.
- "Quo Vadis Armour?" in Military Technology, November 1, 2003.
- Army Technology
- Spain's Ministry of Defence
- ¿INFANTERÍA MECANIZADA?