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M113A3

Armored personnel carrier

M113A3

The M113A3 APC was a major departure from the previous M113 models

 
 
Entered service 1987
Crew 2 men
Personnel 11 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 12.3 t
Length 5.29 m
Width 2.68 m
Height 2.52 m
Armament
Machine guns 1 x 12.7-mm (2 000 rounds)
Mobility
Engine General Motors 6V53T diesel
Engine power 275 hp
Maximum road speed 72 km/h
Amphibious speed on water ~ 5 km/h
Range 480 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.6 m
Trench 1.7 m
Fording Amphibious

 

   The A3 generation of the M113 family of vehicles is a major, comprehensive upgrade for the entire range of M113 variants. The intent of this upgrade was to increase the overall performance of the US Army's M113 fleet, which was the workhorse of its armored forces in the 1980s (over 20 000 M113s and its variants were in US service then).

   While previous M113 models were considered to possess adequate firepower for an APC, thier protection was considered lacking, and thier mobility attributes outdated. With 209 hp and a top speed of 64 km/h, the earlier M113A2 would lag behind the 72 km/h M1 Abrams MBT and M2 Bradley IFV. Fully replacing the M113 FOV with Bradley variants had already proven technically, logistically, and fiscally impossible, which necessitated upgrading the M113s instead of replacing them.

   The decision to proceed with this upgrade was made in 1984. Collectively known as the RISE upgrade (Reliability Improvements for Selected Equipment), the vehicle that would become the M113A3 was planned to be fitted with spall liners, a more powerful engine and transmission, new controls in the driver's station, external fuel cells, shock-absorbent seats, new brakes, and provisions for appliqué armor. Starting in 1987, all new-built M113s were made to 'A3 standard, and all upgrades have been to 'A3 since 1989.

   The M113A3's appearance is cubic, with a well-sloped glacis plate, and an inwardly-sloped rear. A large, rectangular trim vane is fitted to the top of the glacis plate, with pioneer tools stowed above it, and two pairs of round headlights with loop-like collision guards at the top on each side. Clusters of smoke grenade dischargers are often fitted to the upper glacis plate as well. The lower glacis plate has two small towing hitches, and a cylindrical hub at each side house the slightly-protruding drive sprocket fixtures. In its standard configuration, the sides are flat, bare, and totally featureless. On the rear end is the ramp, which has a door in the left side that is hinged on the right, and is flanked by the primary recognition feature of the 'A3 models - two large, protruding fuel cells. The roof has numerous, isolated fixtures, including several cylindrical hitches for attaching appliqué armor and other accessories. The middle-rear of the roof is dominated by a cargo hatch, in which up to 4 men can stand at once. At the middle-front-center of the roof is the commander's cupola, which has a skate mount for a machine gun, and 5 vision block periscopes. At the front of the roof, from left to right, are the circular driver's hatch, the engine ventilation louver, and the engine exhaust louver.

   The armor on the M113A3 remains unchanged from that of previous models, and is the same 5083 aluminum alloy. It is 44 mm thick over the frontal arc, 38 mm thick over the sides, rear, and roof, and 28 mm thick over the belly. 5083 aluminum has 25% more protection over the same area at twice the thickness as RHA steel, the making the M113's protection is thus roughly equal to 28 mm of steel in front, 20 mm underneath, and 22 mm on all other sides - it is thus proofed against 12.7-mm ball rounds, 12.7-mm AP in front, and all anti-personnel mines, small arms fire, shell splinters, and blast overpressure on all sides. This armor has proven highly resilient against shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons and heavy machine gun fire, though it is no match for vehicle-fired anti-tank munitions or continuous heavy machine gun fire. The armor is further augmented with spall liners and a collective NBC protection system, which are standard on all A3 variants. Appliqué armor kits that protect against 14.5-mm, 23-mm, and 30-mm rounds are offered by BAe, though none are fielded by the US military. A bar armor cage, augmented by 25 mm ballistic steel plates, has been fitted to US-operated M113A3s operating in Iraq, as an interim measure against shaped charge warheads. As of 2010, the M113A3's bar armor has successfully defeated every chemical energy warhead used against them in combat in Iraq.

   A wide variety of additional equipment to augment the M113A3's protection has been developed in addition to that mentioned above, but the list is too exhaustive to mention here.

   The M113A3's skate mount can be fitted with a variety of different weapons, including a 7.62-mm M240 machine gun, a 12.7-mm M2HB heavy machine gun, or a 40-mm Mk.19 AGL grenade launcher. Up to 4 men can fight while mounted from the cargo hatch, which is often augmented with a pair of gun-shielded 7.62-mm machine guns. A wide variety of other weapons have been fitted to M113A3s in addition to those mentioned, including light ATGM launchers, 90-mm recoilless rifles, and 60-mm mortars; these were enabled by the generous free space on the M113A3's roof, though none are standard equipment.

   The interior of the M113A3 is largely the same as that in other M113 APCs, with a largely cubic shape (except for the extension containing the driver's station). It has a total usable interior volume of 8.49 cubic meters due to an improved equipment stowage layout. The driver sits in the extreme forward-left, and the vehicle commander sits in the middle-forward of the troop compartment. The folding bleachers on each sponson can accommodate up to 10 passengers, though this is often reduced to 8 in order to increase stowage. A rear-facing jumpseat can be fitted to the floor in the middle-rear of the troop compartment, increasing the M113A3's passenger capacity to 11 (though this is normally used for evacuations and VIPs, as it increases the time and difficulty of dismounting the vehicle).

   The electronics of the M113A3 are improved over the A2, though they remain austere. The driver's station has new controls and gauges, and image intensification night vision equipment as standard features, and the A3 are has new radios (over the A2).

   Propulsion is provided by a General Motors 6V53T diesel V6 engine with 275 hp, coupled to an Allison X-200-4 or X-200-4A automatic transmission with 4 forward gears and 2 reverse gears. These differential transmissions allow the M113A3 to pivot steer, which was a new capability for the M113 FOV on the M113A3's introduction. The torsion bar suspension is the same as that introduced into the M113A2, and can carry a payload of ~10 tonnes (in addition to the vehicle's own weight). The running gear is the same as on all previous M113s, with a front drive sprocket, a rear idler, no return rollers, and T130 or T150 tracks. There are also bandtracks available for M113A3s, which increase automotive performance and decrease weight (at the cost of a lower track life, and more easily-damaged tracks).

   As with all prior M113 variants, there are 5 drum-shaped roadwheels on each side, and a flat track with no return rollers. The drive sprocket is forward (as previously mentioned), and the idler is at the rear. Very short track skirts that span the vehicle's length are often fitted.

   With 275 hp propelling 12.3 tonnes, the standard M113A3 has a power/weight ratio of 22.35 hp/tonne, and a governed top speed of 72 km/h. The fuel cells carry 360 liters of fuel, allowing a 480 km range. If soucy bandtracks are fitted, the M113A3's top speed and range are immediately increased to 80 km/h and 640 km, respectively.

   The M113A3 is 5.29 m long, 2.68 m wide, 2.52 m tall, and weighs 12.3 tonnes at combat weight. It can tackle a 60% gradient, a 30% side slope, a 0.61 m vertical obstacle, or a 1.7 m trench. It has 0.4 m of ground clearance, and is fully amphibious without preparation. Bilge pumps are fitted to aid in swimming, as water from spray tends to rapidly accumulate inside the vehicle. With 12.3 tonnes atop a track footprint of 2 m², the M113A3 has 0.6 kg/cm² of ground pressure. The M113A3 can be air-dropped via LAPES, thanks to the reinforced suspension it inherited from the M113A2 (the M113A1 was deemed too heavy, over the original M113, for airdrop).

   Production ran from 1987 to 1992, in which over 6000 new-built M113A3s were manufactured. In addition, thousands of earlier-model M113s were converted to A3 standard, many from 1994-onward.

   The unit cost of a new-built M113A3 is approximately $300 000, while a conversion from A2 to A3 costs $160 000. New-built models are no longer available, though M113A3's production facilities are still open for production, and conversions of pre-A3 models are still offered by the current manufacturer.

 

Variants

 

   There countless variants of the M113A3. For the sake of simplicity, only US military variants are featured here. All of these variants are immediately identifiable by a distinctive combination of 5 roadwheels on each side, and twin external fuel cells on the rear sponsons (except for the XM1108 and the M113A4, which have 6 roadwheels on each side).

   M113A3 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV); a standard APC, with a 360-degree gunshield installed around the commander's cupola, and 2 gun-shielded 7.62-mm machine guns installed over the cargo hatch;

   M58A3 Wolf; a smoke generator vehicle;

   M106A3; a 106-mm mortar carrier;

   M548A3; a cargo carrier;

   M577A3; a mobile C3I vehicle, identifiable be its tall roof. Unlike most M113A3 variants, the M577A3 cannot swim due to its increased weight and height;

   M901A3 Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV); a tank destroyer with a TOW ATGM launcher;

   M981A3 FISTV; a Fire Support Team Vehicle, which is used to organize, call-in, direct, and correct artillery fire;

   M1059A3 Lynx; another smoke generator vehicle;

   M1064A3; a 120-mm mortar carrier;

   M1068A3 SICPS; the Standard Integrated Command Post System (SICPS) is essentially just an M577A3 with more sophisticated C3I capabilities;

   XM1108; a proposed Universal Carrier vehicle with 2 extra roadwheels, not unlike the M993 carrier used in the MLRS. To date, none have been ordered;

   M113A4; a stretched M113A3 with 2 extra roadwheels, a new powertrain, and improved stowage, marketed by BAe as the MTVL. These have been procured in various forms by other armed forces, but as of 2010 the US military has not proceeded with procurement.

 

Blacktail

   Article by BLACKTAIL

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Video of the M113A3 armored personnel carrier

 
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