<XMP><BODY></xmp>Improving the M113 for future use.

Added 29-8-14

The Uta Modular APC and Combat Vehicle

In my previous article I suggested a possible form that a future tank or mounted combat system might take. I suggested that the Thunderback would closely resemble related Infantry Fighting Vehicle designs, the chief difference being that the rear of the vehicle was occupied by Vertical Launch System (VLS) missiles rather than an infantry team. I did not specify a weight class for these vehicles but it seems unlikely that they can mount the needed armour and other defensive and offensive systems and be less than thirty tons.

Such vehicles will need to be supplemented by simpler and lighter platforms. Many military vehicle roles do not need a vehicle with the Thunderback or Heavy-IFV's capabilities. Troops will also need armoured vehicles that can be easily moved by helicopter or existing airlift assets such as the C-130. This article will suggest a vehicle design that may meet most of these needs. Australians call a flatbed utility vehicle a Ute so for convenience I will call this vehicle the Utility Track: Armoured or Uta.

In order to keep the Uta light enough for some of these roles the individual Uta vehicle will be specialized rather than all singing and all dancing. For example, one or more vehicles in a unit may carry missiles while another vehicle mounts the sensor systems needed for long range targeting. Another vehicle mounts a larger calibre gun for direct fire applications. Such a task-division organization is already used in some artillery and anti-aircraft batteries.

Features of the Uta.

The Uta will be based on the M113 and be capable of utilizing many of the components designed for this vehicle. The M113 is one of the most widely produced armoured vehicles of all time and there are thousands still in service across the world. A number of newer AFVs such as the KIFV, TIFV, AIFV and Talha are based on the M113. It is only prudent that such components can be utilized where possible. Likewise the lessons learn in decades of operating the M113 should be utilized.

An obvious area for improvement over the M113 is in the provision of better features to resist mine attack. This field has been neglected in the past and needs to be addressed. Some interesting work in protecting tracked vehicles from mines was done some time ago.

The Uta should use hybrid electric drive systems for increased operational efficiency.

The Uta will probably utilize band tracks. The original M113 used its tracks for propulsion when swimming and the Canadians report that the smoother band tracks provide less thrust in water. The Uta will be amphibious so some propulsive system such as a hydrojet may need to be included.

The basic chassis of the Uta will resemble that of the M113 variants that use six road wheels such as the MTVL, Al-Qaswa, Australian M113AS4 and Canadian TLAV. The chassis will also be reinforced to allow for the weight of any add-on armour and other modifications.

The Uta will be of a three-hole configuration. The driver is located beside the engine at the front of the vehicle and has a hatch above him. Immediately behind the driver is the vehicle commander with a cupola above him. Besides the commander and behind the engine is a second cupola for a third crewman. As well as serving as an additional gunner the third crewman may be a mission or cargo specialist. This two cupola configuration can be seen on M113 variants such as the Korean K200 KIFV(left). Behind the two cupolas is a bulkhead.

The distinctive feature of the Uta is that the basic model is a flatbed. Behind the rear bulkhead of the cab is an area resembling the bed of a military truck. This can be accessed from the cabin by a hatch in the rear bulkhead. The sides and rear of the flatbed are provided with aluminum sides which can be folded down or detached as needed. The top of the sides are providing with crenels, allowing personnel riding in the back to fire out with some measure of protection.

The flatbed design of the Uta allows the basic vehicle to carry various pallets or pods in the rear area to easily adapt it to a wide variety of roles.

When required protection level of the Uta can be increased by fitting additional armour. This may resemble a front and side plates in a similar system to the Israeli Toga system.

Either or both of the cupolas can be fitted with weapons such as heavy machineguns, miniguns, automatic grenade launchers or 30mm ASP cannon. These weapons can be operated from under armour or heads-up. Gunshields can be fitted for increased protection while operating heads-up. One man turrets mounting multiple weapon systems can be fitted to one or both of the cupola positions.

The front of the vehicle can mount a variety of equipment such as dozer blades, rollers, ploughs, winches, forklift mechanisms and light bridges.

In its basic vanilla configuration the Uta is the tracked, armoured equivalent of military trucks such as the M54. The rear area can be used to carry a wide variety of ammunition or other supplies. Specialist pods allow the bulk carriage of liquids such as water or POL. If necessary a number of troops can pile in and ride in the back in the rough and ready fashion of soldiers since at least the Assyrians.

The Australian M113AS4 ALV can carry a 10 foot ISO container but has the deck area extended to achieve this. This suggests the Uta may have more than six roadwheels if it desired this capability is standard. Alternately an extension piece mounting unpowered wheels could be used to extend the deck area when long loads must be carried.

For a more deliberate personnel carrying role an armoured pod fitted with seating, firing ports and hatches is mounted on the flatbed. A hatch at one end mates with that in the rear bulkhead of the vehicle for communication with the vehicle cabin. At the rear end large doors allow rapid mounting and dismounting. Roof hatches in the top of the pod allow the passengers to maintain all-around situational awareness and fire from the vehicle against immediate threats. A variety of weapon systems can be mounted or deployed from the personnel carrying pod. The pod configuration adds an extra layer of protection against mine attack.

Use of other pods configures the same vehicle for a variety of other roles. These include but are not limited to:-

Pods may be compatible with other types or vehicle or may be used as prefab modules in field positions.

The modular nature of the Uta allows the role of a vehicle to be easily changed without replacing the whole vehicle. It also makes it easier and cheaper to upgrade systems.

Pallets and pods can be used to equip the Uta with a wide variety of weapon systems.

A number of companies offer howitzers that can be fitted to trucks. Similar systems could be used for the Uta. This would give an artillery system that can easily be airlifted or airdropped to locations where it can engage the enemy. Potentially the pallet-mounted howitzer can be placed at a fire base and the Uta carrier then used to fetch additional ammunition and supplies. If necessary the Uta vehicle and a pod or pallet can be lifted by different helicopters and then the vehicle assembled where it is needed. Based on the capabilities of the XM1108 and Al-Qaswa the Uta will probably be able to carry between five and seven tons. A 155mm weapon may be too heavy but a 105mm system should be practical. In many modern operations the smaller effect area of the 105mm has proved to be an advantage where collateral damage and fratricide are concerns.

Mortar systems are possible in a variety of calibres and configurations. The most basic is a single tube firing through the roof hatch of a pod with ammunition stowage. Multiple salvo mortars and breech-loading systems are also possible.

Pallets can also be used to mount a variety of MBRL systems ranging from 2.75 FFAR to 227mm HIMARS. Larger artillery missiles such as ATACMS or combat UAVs can also be carried.

Uta can also be configured to carry various gun and SAM anti-aircraft systems. Radar and other sensor systems for various roles can also be mounted on pods or pallets for the Uta.

Pallets of Vertical launch system missiles such as those described in the Thunderback article could also be used by the Uta. A Uta mounting such weapons and also a 30mm ASP cannon could serve in the light tank role for air-deployed forces. As well as anti-tank and surface to surface roles VLS can be used for SAM systems too.

A mobile gun system would probably be a pod mounting a 105mm gun in a unmanned turret. Other calibres and combinations of gun and guided missile could also be constructed.

Pallets mounting cranes give the Uta repair, recovery and cargo handling capabilities.

The Uta could be used to deploy light bridges for vehicles and infantry. An extension of this idea is that it could mount ramps and ladders, allowing assault units to rapidly access the upper stories of structures directly.

A useful possible pod configuration would be the Supersoaker. This pod contains a number of tanks for liquids and mounts at least one water cannon. This system has applications for both fire control and riot suppression. The use of several tanks allows a variety of fire suppressants and/or marker dyes to be available in addition to just water.

As well as its military applications the Uta would also have many civilian uses. A police department with a Uta would have several pods and pallets, allowing them to adapt the vehicle as needed. A dozer blade could be used to remove obstructions, create firebreaks during forest fires or clear roads during heavy snow fall. The Supersoaker pod has obvious applications for forest fires and civil disturbances. As a tracked, amphibious vehicle the Uta will be invaluable during natural disasters such as flooding, heavy snow or mudslides.



By the Author of the Scrapboard :


Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence

Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.

Crash Combat. Second Edition with additional content.
Epub edition. Second Edition with additional content.
Back to the Scrapboard
<XMP></BODY></xmp>