The Austrian SK-105 Kürassier, was developed by the former Austrian AFV manufacturer Saurer in the 1960’s to meet the requirements of the Austrian Army for a strategically mobile tank destroyer (it can be transported by C-130 Hercules transport aircraft).
Based on a modified 4K 4FA APC hull, by which point was in full production, when the first prototype was completed in 1967, full production commenced in 1971/2, after the take over of Saurer by the Austrian company Daimler-Puch in 1970.
Having the same hull as the 4K 4FA APC but modified, the turret was also based on the French AMX-13 turret design, hence the similarity in appearance. Like the AMX-13, rather than the main cannon being elevated, it was fixed in to the turret, which instead would elevate. The commander is sat on the left of the main cannon, the gunner on the right with the autoloader in the rear of the turret. Its fed by two revolver magazines, each holding 6 rounds, reducing the crew to 3. The driver sits front left of the hull with the 320hp Steyr 7FA 6-cylinder liquid-cooled 4-stroke turbocharged diesel engine in the rear, which gives the vehicle a top road speed of 70km/h and range of 500km. The vehicle uses torsion bar suspension.
The main cannon is the French 105 mm 105 G1 and can fire all modern NATO rounds including a French designed APFSDS with an effective range of 1200m. By 1997 the entire Austrian Army fleet had been up-graded.
The commander has seven periscopes, a sight with a x1.6 magnification or alternatively x7.5 magnification. The commander’s infrared night sight has a magnification of x6. The gunner has two observation periscopes, a telescopic sight with a magnification of x8. The FCS uses A CILAS TCV 29 laser range-finder mounted on the roof of the turret. The XSW-30-U 950 W infrared/white light searchlight is fitted on the left front plate of the oscillating part of the turret. The vehicle lacks the ability to fire on the move.
The SK 105/A1 up-grade has seen the replacement of the manual transmission with the ZF 6 HP 600 automatic six-speed transmission with torque converter and lock-up clutch. The FCS is also up-graded reducing the work of the gunner to a more modern, simpler firing process. The sights are also up-graded with a passive night sight, interchangeable with the day sight.
The SK 105/A2 FCS is now fully digitalised, the gunner has a integrated passive night sight and a fully automatic ammunition loading system.
The SK 105/A3 has a new turret housing the US M68 105mm main cannon which is fully stabilised for firing on the move and has new armour protection.
It is estimated that between 600 to 700 of the vehicle have been manufactured for the Austrian Army and export market.
ARGENTINA 118 / AUSTRIA 318 / BOLIVIA 36 / BOTSWANA 52 / MOROCCO 120 / TUNISIA 54
Production of the vehicle had ended in the 1970’s however production was picked up again for Botswana. It’s not fully clear how many or if any SK 105’s have been up-graded to the new versions. Argentina had created a hybrid of their SK 105’s (hull) & AMX-13’s (turret) called the Patagón, which were due for completion by 2009, but its not fully clear if the project has fully gone ahead.
The SK 105’s future isn’t fully clear. The Austrian Army are now modernising their AFV’s with the purchase of second hand Leopard 2 A4’s and the ASCOD IFV.