The army is looking to phase out the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier and is looking at British-based BAE Systems to deliver.
The M113 has been in operation since the Vietnam War, but the vehicle lacks the protection and mobility needed on today’s complex battlefield and the Army plans to phase it out and replace it with the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or AMPV.
The Army first awarded the development contract to BAE systems in 2014 and now the vehicle is up for field testing with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command. The command employs as realistic situations as possible when testing, using a line unit that would use these vehicles as intended against an opposing force, or OPFOR.
“What we are trying to do now is modernize the Army … to allow our commanders at the brigade and battalion level to have a complete fleet of vehicles that can maneuver together and operate together,” said OTC commander Brig. Gen. William “Hank” Taylor.
The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle comes in five variants currently: General purpose, mortar carrier, mission command carrier, medical evacuation carrier and a medical treatment carrier.
The AMPV has a sustained speed of about 38 mph and can accelerate from 0-30 mph in about 24 seconds, as well as a one-man open-top turret with 360 degree capability, bullet-proof windows and can be armed with a grenade launcher or a .50 caliber machine gun. The AMPV is about 78 percent larger than the M113.
The testing Sept. 17 focused on the use and the effectiveness of the 360 degree open-top turret using various weapons with the help of 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division.
“Training out here has been fantastic … unfortunately, I do not get to keep them (AMPV). For many of my soldiers they definitely would because of the capabilities it has shown so far,” squadron battalion commander Lt. Col. Adam Cannon said.
The squadron has also been able to utilize the testing as a way to give their soldiers much-needed field time by conducting multiple training missions similar to those that they would perform in an actual combat environment.
“I have got about 500 troopers out here in the field right now, and I would not have been able to do that anytime soon if not for OTC,” Cannon said.
Also seen, but not tested, was the AMPV explosive reactive armor, which consists of a series of plates that cover vulnerable parts of the vehicle. These plates contain explosive charges that only detonate when coming into direct contact with a rocket or missile.
Each vehicle is equipped with smoke charges, similar to those found on the M113 Causality Evacuation Vehicle Variant. These charges aid in the exfiltration of the AMPV in case of attack.
BAE Systems also utilized ideas found on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The driver sits at the front of the vehicle on the left and has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the rear and has four day periscopes, three to the front and one to the left side. The engine compartment is to the right of the driver. The troop compartment is at the rear, where soldiers enter and leave the vehicle through a large, hydraulically-operated ramp located at the rear of the hull. The rear part of the hull is also raised from the position of the driver to offer more space.
During the testing, Brig. Gen. Richard R. Coffman from the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, Fort Benning, Georgia also arrived and was given a tour of one of the causality evacuation vehicles by soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment.
If everything goes well for the AMPV, the phase-out for the M113 would not be immediate. Due to budgetary constraints, the Army reportedly will be sending upgraded M113s to units outside the continental United States. Officials also suggested that the upgrade for the M113 was “an interim solution until we can get to the optimal solution.”
BAE expects to meet the Army’s operational testing requirements before the end of 2018, allowing the armored multipurpose vehicle to begin production and deployment.