Armor: M113 Thrives In Old Age


July 19, 2014: The Philippines is upgrading its armored vehicle fleet. Most of the armored vehicles are second hand M113 APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers) from the United States and some armored reconnaissance vehicles from Britain. The Philippines is receiving 142 more M113A2s this year. This will increase the number of armored vehicles in the Filipino military to over 600.

Not all are still in service and most are in the army (the marines have some as well). Most of the army armored vehicles are in the Light Armored Division, which sends out its armor and mechanized infantry battalions to where they are needed. By having all these armored vehicles in one division maintenance and training are easier and cheaper. With the delivery of the additional M113s this will become the most numerous armored vehicle in the Filipino armed forces, with 260 in service. There are also 140 wheeled Simba vehicles obtained from Britain in the 1990s and about a hundred V-150 wheeled armored vehicles (similar to the Simba, bit obtained in the 1970s). There are about a hundred other vehicles of various types.

The Philippines has also hired an Israeli firm to refurbish and upgrade 28 of their M113 armored vehicles. In addition to rebuilding the structural, mechanical and electrical elements of the M113s, a new fire control system, plus night vision sensors along with GPS, intercom and radios will be installed. The Philippines will also supply the turrets from 14 of its decommissioned Scorpion reconnaissance vehicles for some of these refurbed APCs. These two man turrets are equipped with a 76mm gun that can provide excellent infantry support. Four of the M113s will be equipped to tow damaged vehicles or carry casualties. If these upgrades prove as useful as expected more such upgrades will follow.

Dating from the 1950s, over 80,000 M113s were manufactured, and about a quarter of those are still in use with the armed forces of some fifty countries. American production ceased in the early 1990s. There have been 40 variants of the 13-15 ton M113, for chores like air defense, command, carrying cargo, and so on in addition to the basic job of carrying troops on the battlefield. Upgrading older M113s to the much improved M113A3 standard, and conversions to variants, has been a big business for decades. The basic M113 is sturdy, reliable and flexible and that is why it has survived for so long.

Until 2007 the U.S. Army still used over 10,000 M113 armored personnel carriers. These 1960s era vehicles were used for command posts and mortar carriers. Since 2007 over a thousand American M113s were upgraded with better armor protection, nigh vision gear and engines. These included 334 Command Post (with a higher profile, so a commander and his staff can stand up) versions and 66 Mortar Carriers. The command post versions, which are jammed full of computers and communications gear, enable commanders to keep planning operations even as they move with their M-1 tanks and M-2 infantry fighting vehicles. The mortar carrier uses a 120mm weapon that provides mechanized units with instant artillery firepower.

Israel is still a major user of M113s and several Israeli firms specialize in refurbishing and upgrading M113s.



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