About 15 years ago, the Peruvian Army started talking about the need to modernize the French AMX 13/105 self-propelled artillery systems, which were in service of the Peruvian Armed Forces. It is worth mentioning that the idea of modernizing self-propelled artillery systems looked questionable even then. The thing is that 90-mm and 105-mm self-propelled guns have been produced in France since the mid-50s, and the self-propelled artillery system itself was developed being tank-mounted and was launched into production back in 1946. Moreover, there were approximately 180 self-propelled artillery systems in total in Peru at the very beginning of the mentioned events.
Malicious tongues say it is hardly a surprise that such an ingenious plan arose in the head of one Peruvian high-ranking army officer, who graduated from a Russian military educational institution. The plan`s essence is as follows – to dismantle a 105-mm howitzer from the SPG, alter the turret, place a large-caliber machine gun and, most importantly, install the “Kornet” anti-tank missile system designed by the Tula Instrument Design Bureau (“Konstruktorskoe Buro Priborostroeniya” – KBP, in Russian: “Конструкторское бюро приборостроения”.
It was surmised that dismantling of the howitzer would reduce the load on the caterpillar tracks and thereby increase tank speed, and the 9M113 “Kornet-E” anti-tank guided missiles would allegedly significantly increase the fire efficiency. It should not go unsponken that the question of the purposefulness of such an undertaking was raised among the Peruvian military personnel. This question was posed repeatedly, but the arguments of opponents fell in deaf ears.
One way or the other, but the idea was finally approved and in November 2008 the official Lima signed an agreement with “Rosoboronexport”. As a result, this activity began to take place under the code name “Scorpion” (Alacrán) in Peruvian documents. And a little later, the remolded self-propelled artillery system itself began to be called the “Scorpion” tank.
At the end of 2010, the Peruvian army began to modernize first 24 tanks. Over the next long months, a huge amount of work has been carried out, in particular:
- the armor protection was revised;
- Deutz F8L-413F diesel engine was overhauled;
- the turret and the howitzer were completely removed;
- a new turret was mounted;
- an ATGM system was mounted bearing two 9M113 “Kornet-E” anti-tank missiles;
- an electronic control unit for the supply of ATGMs was installed with an arsenal for 4 spare ATGMs;
- new Russian optics was mounted (1P45M-1 sight for target tracking and 1PN79-1 thermal imaging sight);
- the M-2 HB 12.7-mm American Browning machine gun was installed.
However, after some time (when a lot of money had already been spent) it became obvious that “Scorpion” failed to live up to its deadly name. Much to the surprise of the Peruvian military, a number of malfunctions and fundamental technical errors were identified during the operation of the “Scorpions”. One of them is the impossibility of firing an ATGM until the “Scorpion” is completely stopped.
As it turned out, the track suspension lacked the damping of vibrations (otherwise suppression of vibrations). Accordingly, the increased speed did not give any advantages to the vehicle, given that the shot had to be fired exclusively from a stationary position. Moreover, a number of questions arose about the combat effectiveness of the “Kornet” ATGM system itself.
Finally, during modernization of tanks, 288 Russian ATGMs (purchased for 25 million of US dollars) expired, and “Rosoboronexport” hurried to notify its Peruvian partners of it.
In general, money spent on upgrading the AMX 13/105 went, as the saying goes, down the drain. Now this entire Peruvian program on the modernization of French self-propelled guns, thanks to the “successful” cooperation with “Rosoboronexport”, looks like a white elephant.
The ending of the story is as follows – “Scorpion” tanks are used exclusively during solemn parades on the occasion of certain national holidays, and even then not always. Moreover, every time the “Scorpion” program is discussed in a narrow circle of the Peruvian military, the representatives of “Rosoboronexport” are remembered with softly spoken, kindly word. Plus, the feeling of “the recipe for disaster” seized the Peruvian military so strongly that they did not even dare to demonstrate the “Scorpions” at the exhibition of achievements, timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Peruvian army and held simultaneously with the “SITDEF-2021” international exposition.