The Armored Multipurpose Vehicle

The M113 entered service as the primary Armored Personnel Carrier for mechanized infantry formations around 1960. It also quickly became clear that its fundamentally sound design would be useful for many, many other roles, either in specialized variants or just for general usage. For instance, there are ambulance variants, and command post variants. The M113 was replaced as the prime carrier of the mechanized infantry by the M2 Bradley beginning in the early 1980s, but the M113 still soldiers on in these support roles. In fact, in the Armored Brigade Combat Team of today, there are more M113 variants in use than there are tanks or Bradleys.

M1064 120mm Mortar Carrier based on the M113A3 chassis

But even though the upgrade of the fleet to the current M113A3 standard greatly improved the mobility of the carrier, it is rapidly becoming clear that the power, speed, cross country mobility, and ability to support command and control systems has reached the practical limit. It is time for a replacement vehicle.

The Army sees a need for roughly 3000 new vehicles. They want a new general purpose carrier, a mortar carrier, an ambulance, a command post, and a couple other versions.

What the Army doesn’t want is a clean sheet design, leading to a long, drawn out development program. The Army’s Future Combat System and Ground Combat Vehicle programs were disasters, costing billions of dollars in development, but not leading to any actual production contracts.

In fact, the Army knows exactly what it wants. It wants the basic hull and machinery of the Bradley, minus the turret.  A simple armored box, into which the appropriate mission equipment can be mounted. This stuff isn’t rocket science. In fact BAE Systems, the maker of the Bradley, has been trying to sell the Army various Bradley derivatives for years. And the basic Bradley chassis is quite sound, also serving as the basis for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. Further, Bradley suspension and powertrain components were used to upgrade the AAV-7A1 Amtrac fleet, and are upgrading the M109A6 Paladin Integrated Product improved self propelled 155mm howitzer. Sharing that basic platform eases the supply and logistics train.

Of course, the DoD acquisition system is a nightmare. The Army can’t just pick up the phone and order what they want from BAE. They instead have to go through the internal acquisition process justifying the need for an M113 replacement, which takes time, manpower and money to realize something that everyone already knows. Then comes the fact that, when you start talking about spending a couple billion dollars, you have to take bids for contracts. So the Army published a Request For Proposals, or RFP. And in spite of very narrowly tailoring the RFP to pretty much say “we want to buy turretless Bradleys from BAE” the Army still ran into some trouble. General Dynamics, makers of the Stryker family of vehicles, protested to the Army that the RFP unfairly excluded Stryker variants from the competition. And they do have at least some point. At least one heavy BCT deployed to Iraq with Stryker ambulances in place of its M113 ambulances. But while a Stryker ambulance might have been suitable for Iraq, the Army can very easily see scenarios where such an ambulance would not be able to keep pace with tanks and Bradleys. That’s the whole point why it wants turretless Bradley vehicles.

General Dynamics has recently decided it won’t tie up the issue with a protest to the GAO (which would tie the program in knots for years). Instead, it will likely lean on friendly representatives in Congress to at least give them some small slice of the pie in future budgets. After all, the Army may want turretless Bradleys, but it can only buy what Congress tells it to.

Here’s the original “industry day” flyer on what the AMPV objectives were.


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More Armored Recon – The Lynx, Offspring of the M113

Another contender armored recon category in the 1960s, a variant of the M113 offered by FMC, Corp., rolled out in 1966. The FMC offering, called M113 ½, appeared for all purposes a shrunken version of the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). With only four road wheels (vice five on the APC), the M113 ½ stood just over six feet tall.

The M113 ½ featured a redesigned front hull and a rear mounted engine. The crew consisted of a driver and observer seated side-by-side, along with the commander at the main weapon station on a .50-cal machine gun. FMC’s ACRC weighed over eight tons, but could reach over 40 mph on roads. Power came from a 6-cylinder diesel.  Like the M113, the ACRC offering was amphibious, with a trim vane that deployed in front of the front hull plate.  Armor on the M113 ½ was slightly better, due to the front 60-degree slope mostly, over the base M113.

On paper, the M113 ½ seemed like a good bet, particularly considering commonality with the M113 family. However with the M114 already in production, the US Army opted not to pursue the M113 ½. That didn’t stop FMC from offering the vehicle for sale to other countries. In 1966 the Royal Netherlands Army purchased the first of 260 modified M113 ½.  In the mid-1970s  most received a turret mounted 25mm Oerlikon KBA cannon.

Overloon, Marshall Museum
Dutch Lynx Recon Vehicle, Overloon, Marshall Museum

The Dutch retained the side-by-side seating for driver and observer.  Note the side crew hatch (seen open here).  Aside from the turret, very similar to the type evaluated in the US.

The M113 ½ attracted orders from Canada also.  FMC modified the basic offering for Canadian specifications, placing the observer behind the driver in tandem, with a 7.62mm machine gun (either a M1919 Browning or FN MAG machine gun).  With this move, the commander’s station moved to the right, retaining the original .50-cal machine gun.  And the Canadians dispensed with the side hatch.

Canadian Lynx

Thus configured, the Canadians call the M113 ½ the “Lynx.”

Canada, the Netherlands, and FMC, who continued marketing the vehicle for a while, proposed and tested armament upgrades.  But size restricted a significant weapons enhancement.  Like the M114, the Lynx could not pack enough firepower to pose a threat to any enemy armor force encountered.  But, in the two NATO countries which used the vehicle cavalry doctrine differed from that in the US.  A small, lightly-armed, thin-armored vehicle measured well against Canadian and Dutch expectations.  Both armies used the M113 ½ into the 1990s, but gradually replaced the type with wheeled scout vehicles.

A nice, detailed walk-around of the Lynx is posted here: Lynx Walkaround.