Comparisons with turreted tanks
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In 1971 a study regarding the observation equipment was conducted. The aim was to analyze the effect of the much larger periscopes and greater magnification in the Strv 103 compared to the Centurion. The results were that the commander spots more targets in the Centurion than the gunner and this means that a fire command must be given, taking some time. In the Strv 103 the driver/gunner spots more targets than the commander meaning that the fire command is often uneccecery. The Strv 103 would therefore fire faster at a spotted target. If the tanks fought with open hatches (as is the custom in Centurion units) the tanks spotted the same number of targets while the Strv 103 held the advantage with hatches closed.
The defence decision of 1982 meant that the Strv 103B was to undergo a REMO (renovation and modification). Preparations had been started as early as 1975 when tests started. The REMO was to be undertaken in three steps. Step one included a laser rangefinder coupled to the driver/gunners sight, a new dieselengine, new transmission and diesel jerrycans mounted along the sides of the tank and LYRAN illumination flare mortars. The Strv 103C entered service in 1986. This halved the running costs of the tank that had ben high due to its unreliability. In the last years in active service the only tank more reliable than the "S" was the Strv 104 Centurion.
Steps two and three of the REMO were to include a ballistical calculator for firing at moving targets, a muzzle reference system, passive infra-red night fighting equipment. Trials had been conducted with a new gasturbine (with much higher effect), NBC-filters, a controlled softening of the tanks rolling ride over uneven terrain, and stabilization of the commanders mashinegun and not just his main periscope. These measures were cancelled due to lack of funds and the expected medium increase in combat effectiveness. The tank would have been known as Strv 103D and at least one was built. It was a contender along with the Strv 105 Centurion for the mechanized brigades when the armored brigades recieved the all new yet unchosen new battletank. The Strv 105 was chosen over the Strv 103D (much to the disappointment of "S"-lovers) but this was never realized since the purchase of the Leopard 2S meant that the mechanized brigades recieved the used basic Leopard 2.
Foreign visitors expressed great interest in the Strv 103. They came from Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, England, France, Holland, Yugoslavia, Norway, Poland, the Soviet union, West Germany, USA and Austria to see this new design. Apart from this the "S" was tested by three foreign armies. First out was Norway that in 1967 for two weeks conducted comparative observation tests with the Leopard 1. With closed hatches the "S" spotted more targets and fired faster than the Leopard. With open hatches the results were reversed. The main reason for the norwegians to buy the Leopard instead of the Strv 103 was not that because they thought it a better tank, but since the Leopard was manufactured in so large series for half of NATO it was much cheaper.
The american and british tests of the "S" were not to determine if they should buy it or not but to test the concept of a turretless tank. It was cheaper to borrow tanks from Sweden than to produce their own testriggs. In April - September 1968 two Strv 103 were tested at the british armored school in Bovington. Two Swedish officers trained three crews for six weeks and two mechanics from Bofors had the technical responsibility. The report after the tests contained phrases such as:
"- The "S"-tank must be considered to be a tank."
"- The turretless concept of the "S"-tank holds considerable advantage over turreted tanks."
The next trial was with the BAOR 1973. Five officers trained ten british crews for six weeks in Skövde at the Swedish armor combat school. After that ten tanks were shipped to the 2. RTR barracks at Münster in Germany. Three Swedish officers came along as observers and sex Swedish army mechanics were responsible for maintainance and repairs. 19 well contolled tactical tests with platoons and company were conducted together with Chieftain units. After these tests 9 consecutive days of maneuvers began with the tanks rolling 900 km alltogether. Availability never fel under 90 % and on every morning ten battle ready "S"-tanks stood ready. The Chieftain never came close to this figures.Since the british simulator equipment was used a judgement can be made in different battle situations. The report afterwards states.
"- It has not been possible to prove any disadvantage in the "S" inability to fire on the move."
The tests were largely aimed at proving that a tank must have a turret according to a present german officer. In this the british failed. The report clearly statres that the "S" had never been inadequate in comparison to the Chieftain and that it had a high reliability. This is largely thanks to the superhuman day and night effort of the Swedish mechanics.
In 1975 two "S"-tanks were tested the american armor center at Fort Knox. One Swedish officer and two mechanichs from Bofors came along and trained seven crews in seven weeks. The tests were well planned and conducted in a positive atmosphere. The results showed that the Strv 103 was more accurate that the M60A1E3 but fired on an average 0,5 seconds slower. The report states that the Strv 103 was well suited both for offensive and defensive action. The Swedish method of training was well appreciated at Fort Knox and the "S" fullfilled the high expectations the americans had.
A positive effect of these foreign tests was the opportunity to compare the Swedish conscript to the proffesional soldier of the british army and the US army. Most swedes were surprised to see that despite years of experience the foreign proffessionals were unable to fulfill the requirements we have on our conscript soldiers regarding firing, driving and maintainance. Very few of the retrained american and british gunners were able to satisfy the requirements in our qualificationfirings. The concript army gives excellent opportunity to put the right man in the right spot.
The main drawback that the "S" has recieved critisism for is the inability to fire on the move. There was no technical specification calling for this. The contemporary tanks do have stabilized guns. This is mainly to reduce the time before firing after halting the tank. The comparative tests in 1977 with Strv 101 Centurion, Strv 103 and Leopard 1 showed that if the turreted tanks use their stabilization in a halt-fire drill they are all as fast and accurate. With the stabization disconnected the turreted tanks are not only slower but less accurate as well. When firing on the move the turreted tanks are faster but considerebly less accurate. In all alternatives the time before firing the second round is longer for the turreted tanks.