Making a recce vehicle from an 8×8 APC
Before the TABC-79, the Romanian Ratmil Regie Automoma designed and built locally modified versions of the Soviet BTR-60, known as the TAB-71 (from the year of acceptance). When the BTR-70 was out, it gave birth to the TAB-77, also an improved local version. Next, the TABC-79 was a brand new vehicle all by itself. About the size of a BRDM-2, it was derived from the TAB-77 and kept most of its components and features.
It is now known as the ABC-79M in the Romanian Army Inventory and classed as a reconnaissance APC. Formally the C in TABC stands for “Cercetare” (reconnaissance), TAB for “Transportor Auto-Blindat” or APC. It was accepted into service in 1979 and produced to an extent of 430 vehicles until the mid-1980s. Now maintained by ROMARM (which absorbed Ratmil) it is known as the ABC-79M which stands for Amfibiu Blindat pentru Cercetare or, literally “Amphibious Armoured Vehicle For Reconnaissance”. It is now known officially as the “ABC-79”
Basically, the original TAB-77 hull was shortened by 1,80 meters, and the wheel-train was reduced to two axles, with independent roadwheels, making it an agile 4×4. Most if its components are shared with the TAB-77. The hull is of all-welded steel construction, providing protection against 20 mm rounds, shell splinters and small arms fire.
The original configuration is kept, with the commander and driver seating at the front, their view protected by windscreens and armoured shutters, plus single-piece hatches above, opening forward, and four PF2 day periscopes to the front and sides. The commander was given an AON1 IR searchlight mounted and operated from the roof while standing buttoned-up or remotely.
Right behind was located the one-man manually operated turret (shared by the TAB-71/77) armed with the 14.5 mm KPVT heavy MG plus a coaxial 7.62 mm PKT LMG. There is room for four equipped infantrymen, ammo and equipments behind, but the engine bay immediately follows, showing air inlet and outlet louvres protruding on the roof while the exhaust pipes are located on the rear left side.
For access, a single door is present on either side at the rear, opening outwards, one with a firing port, but also lower hull entry doors on each sides, between the axles, and a single roof hatch, right of the engine compartment. There are also two hull firing ports, side periscopes, and turntable-mounted roof periscopes.
The main engine is the same modern SAVIEM 797-05M1 132 hp diesel engines that also propelled the TAB-77. Due to the much reduced weight, the TABC-79 was much faster and agile than the 8×8 APC, with a top speed of 80 kph and an operational range of 700 km. It retains full amphibious capability, relying on a single water-jet in the rear for propulsion.
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Preparation includes turning on the bilge pumps and erecting the trim vane by the driver. The latter is normally stowed retracted on the glacis plate, acting as add-on armour. Other protection equipments includes NBC, and the standard automatic fire extinguisher. There is also a front-mounted winch (50 m cable, 5,5 tons capacity), infra-red night vision equipment and a central tyre-pressure regulation system plus an engine preheater for extremely low temperatures.
- TAB-C reconnaissance vehicle
- AM-425 armored personnel carrier
- TAB-79A PCOMA artillery observation vehicle
- TAB-79AR mortar carrier
- ML-A95M reload vehicle for the CA-95M SPAAML
- CA-95M SPAAML
The TABC-79 in action
This vehicle was already largely available when the 1989 revolution broke out in Bucarest, and some participated in the event. Some operated with the IFOR in Bosnia during the Operation Joint Endeavor (1995-96) in peace-keeping operations. 45 personnel were in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of EUFOR since 2000, and 150 personnel in Peć, Kosovo as part of KFOR, with vehicles. Other participated in various missions in Afghanistan: There was a battalion in Zabul, a guard detachment in Kandahar and a reconnaissance squad in Mazari Sharif as part of ISAF, equipped with TABC-79s, along with some TAB-77Ms. A single one was exported to Israel for evaluations. ABC-79Ms are now retained in second-line units, since US-built Humvees and more modern recce vehicles are in service.
|Dimensions (L-w-h):||5,64 x2,80 x2,34m (18.50 x9 x7.5 fts)|
|Total weight, battle ready :||9,27 Tons (20,436 ibs)|
|Crew :||3+4 (driver, commander, gunner, 4 personal)|
|Propulsion :||Saviem 797-05M1 132 hp diesel|
|Max speed||80 kph (50 mph)|
|Operational Range||700km (434 mi)|
|Armament :||Main : 14.5 mm KPVT HMG (500 rds)|
Sec. 7.62 PKT Coaxial LMG (2000 rds)
|Armour :||From 4 to 20 mm (0.2 – 0.7 in)|
AM-425 APC in the 1980s markings and livery.
TABC-79 in the 1990s. Post-revolution vehicle were very often camouflaged, with a large variety of spotted patterns over the original factory dark green.
TABC-79A PCOMA Artillery Observation Vehicle
TABC-79 with IFOR, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1996
ABC-79M in Afghanistan, 88th infantry battalion.
TABC-79AR mortar carrier of the 191 battalion firing its 82mm Model 1977 mortar in april 2010