Upgrades anticipated later this year
The M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) first fielded in 1963 has undergone many upgrades and improvements over the years and it remains in use today in large numbers with many armies including the US Army. In fact, it is estimated that over 12,000 M113s are still fielded worldwide.
With this market in mind, Mike Peak, Director of Enterprise Business Development for General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), told MONS in an interview held during AUSA 2017 in Washington DC that the company has spent its own funds over the past months developing a cost efficient upgrade for the M113.
The object has been to focus on key areas of mobility, reliability and protection but to also achieve a reasonable cost. The company has a working demonstrator which it has shown to military officials.
Their upgrade effort includes replacing the current engine and transmission with the Caterpillar C7 which is also utilized in the US Army STRYKER. This power pack is more efficient and offers a better power to weight ratio. Additional electrical power and some electronic and controls updates are included as well. The suspension remains unchanged although an upper support roller is added. These are influenced by the added weight that occurs with the fitting of counter mine/IED protection to the vehicle belly. Major benefits of the GDLS upgrade design are that the entire upgrade requires only 50 hours and can be applied without needing to return to a depot.
Mr. Peak shared that General Dynamics had shared their design with US Army officials and received positive comments. Subsequently the US Army Contracting Command issued a June 2017 Request for Information, “to determine existing industry capability in order to provide survivability/force protection and associated mobility and reliability upgrades for the M113 system.”
A Request for Proposal is anticipated later this year. Col Mike Milner the AMPV PM of the PEO Ground Combat Systems suggested this upgrade would be limited a limited but did not offer more details.
It is, however, known that the AMPV (Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle) just now beginning production by BAE Systems to replace the M113 will both require years to be reach all units and is currently only going to Brigade and units below. A “field” installable M113 Upgrade could then be an attractive solution for Echelons Above Brigade (EAB) and as an interim for units waiting the AMPV.
The US Army FY18 Budget does contain U$15 million to look at options and additional funds could be made available if a favourable solution is presented. The US Army will likely receive responses from a number of companies who have been upgrading M113s for other armies. BAE Systems, the original developer, Elbit Systems and Germany’s FFG (Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft) have undertaken such efforts.
The challenges will be affordability, ease of application and maturity. Army sources indicated that given a sufficiently mature design an upgrade program could be accelerated with priority given to European forces.
Stephen W. Miller