Over rugged, snowy terrain, horses still provide
An officer briefs two noncommissioned officers on the
next phase of a tactical field problem.
Courtesy United States Department of Defense
The principal armored weapons in 1993 were 169 M-60 main
battle tanks of United States manufacture in service with the
tank battalions of the three readiness brigades. Beginning in
1986, the M-60s were upgraded to A3 standard by the installation
of new engines, fire-control systems with laser-range finders,
and a stabilization system. The modernization was carried out by
the Austrian firm of Steyr-Daimler-Puch, often referred to as
Steyr. A light tank, Kürassier SK-105, was developed by Steyr in
the late 1960s. It carries a French-made 105mm gun that has been
modified to fire more powerful fin-stabilized ammunition. The SK105 serves in effect as an armored tank destroyer. The army's
armored personnel carrier (APC) is the Saurer 4K-4E/F, an early
version of a Steyr design that has been exported to a number of
countries. Considered obsolete, the Saurer is expected to be
replaced by a newly developed Steyr APC in the late 1990s.
The most modern artillery weapons are fifty-four 155mm selfpropelled howitzers purchased from the United States in 1988. The
army is planning to upgrade all fifty-four to A5 standards, and
it has placed an order to purchase twenty-four additional
howitzers. The remaining guns in the artillery inventory are
forty-year-old towed 105mm and 155mm howitzers, considered to be
obsolete in terms of range and accuracy. A 130mm truck-mounted
rocket launcher of Czechoslovakian manufacture, in the inventory
since the 1960s, is of limited range and rate of fire.
Austria relies heavily on fixed artillery installations for
defense of key points. In addition to twenty-four SFK 155mm guns
in "fortress" configuration, Austria purchased 200 obsolete
Centurion tanks from the Netherlands and converted their turrets
into fixed-gun emplacements.
The army's most serious shortcomings are in air defense and
antitank weaponry. Without improved protection against enemy
tactical aircraft and attack helicopters, Austrian armored units
are highly vulnerable. The primary air defense weapon is the 40mm
self-propelled antiaircraft gun. A radar-directed 35mm system,
with limited mobility and range, is used principally for static
defense. Optically sighted 20mm guns, some mounted on all-terrain
vehicles, are the only form of air defense for infantry forces
but give little protection against modern combat aircraft.
Austria is evaluating various low-level air defense missile
systems with the intention of purchasing one battery of twelve
launchers for each brigade beginning about 1994.
The announcement in 1989 that Austria considered the State
Treaty limitation on short-range defensive missiles outdated and
void has cleared the way for the army to acquire its first
antitank missile system to replace obsolete guns, recoilless
rifles, and rocket launchers. After trials of several weapons,
Austria purchased the Bofors RBS-56 BILL, a man-portable system,
from Sweden. The army is reportedly also considering purchase of
either the United States TOW (tube-launched, optically tracked,
wire-guided) or the French HOT (high-subsonic, optically guided,
tube-launched) system as longer-range antitank missiles to be
mounted on a wheeled armored vehicle. As many as 200 systems are
expected to be purchased initially, enough for twelve launchers
for each mechanized or infantry brigade.
Data as of December 1993