Country of origin
Dimensions and weight
1 x 12.7 mm (2 000 rounds)
General Motors 6V53T diesel
Maximum road speed
Amphibious speed on water
~ 5 km/h
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 have
adequate firepower for an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), their protection was considered
lacking, and their mobility attributes outdated.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 family of vehicles 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. The 5083 aluminum alloy has
25% more protection over the same area at twice the thickness of 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 armor-piercing rounds 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 was offered by BAe,
though none was 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
automatic 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 anti-tank guided missile 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
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.
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
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
anti-tank guided missile 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
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.
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