In 2002, the Australian Army began to upgrade M113 to the standard M113AS4, based on the predecessors M113AS1 and M113AS3 to match the modern warfare required by the LAND 106 project.
Australia is the largest country in Oceania and has the 6th largest area in the world. Economic development has allowed the Australian government to invest heavily in defense in the direction of “elite and modern”.
The Australian Army has a permanent troops of more than 30,000, a reserve of 14,000 and is organized into two divisions. The most powerful fist of the Australian Army is 59 M1 Abrams main battle tanks imported from the US, 257 ASLAV light armoured vehicles, a version of Piranha manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada. In addition, Australia also owns a large number of M113 armored vehicles, more than 800 units. Present in the Royal Australian Army from the 1970s to the present, the M113 armored vehicle has served in various battlefields around the world, from Indochina to the harsh Middle East. In 2002, the Australian Army began to upgrade M113 to the standard M113AS4, based on the predecessors M113AS1 and M113AS3 to match the modern warfare required by the LAND 106 project. Australia’s M113 upgrade project was led by BAE Systems, the first completed vehicles were delivered to the Australian Army in January 2007. A total of 433 vehicles have been upgraded.
The M113 family is an extremely well-known American armored personnel carrier, an all-terrain vehicle designed to protect and transport the crew and up to ten infantry personnel. The M113 incorporates armour resistant to small arms fire, ballistic plating for mine blast protection and spall curtains to maximise passenger survivability. Logistically, the vehicle is capable of rapid deployment by road, rail, sea or air. The M113 is designed for highway, off-road and cross-country travel while combat laden.
A basic M113 weighs 12.3 tons, length is 4.8m, width 2.6m and height 2.5m along with standard crew of 2. M113 was made of aluminum alloy, it was only designed for all-around 7.62mm and shell splinter protection. On the modern battlefield, this level of protection is not enough. Compared to the M113s of the 1970s, the Australian M113AS4 is a leap ahead with improvements in firepower, engine, protection and reliability.
The hull of the M113AS4 is now 6m, longer than its predecessor, to fit an additional pair of road wheels, its carrying capacity has also improved. M113AS4 has been fitted with a new transmission, drivetrain and engine, as the vehicle now has an 18-ton weight.
The outdated 275-horsepower Detroit Diesel 6V53T engine was replaced by a 350-horsepower MTU 6V199TE diesel engine. The vehicle still reaches the maximum road speed of 65 km/h, the operating range reaches 500 km. M113AS4 retains a swimming speed of 5.38 km/h at a depth of 1.6m, using only a front-mounted trim vane, they are propelled in the water by their tracks.
The hull of the M113AS4 is upgraded to STANAG level 4 standard by add-on ceramic armor tiles, allows protection against up to 14.5 mm rounds. The chassis has been reinforced with thin steel plates, protection against landmines and IED blasts. The troops compartment floor is fitted with spall liners based on the German Army IBD Modular Expandable Armour System. The driver sits at the front of the hull on the left side with engine compartment to the right of the driver. At the rear is the troops compartment which can accommodate a total of 10 infantryman. The infantryman enter and leave the M113AS4 via a power-operated ramp in the rear of the hull that opens downwards and has a door in the left side. The interior of M113AS4 has also been improved, as well as habitability for passengers. Standard equipment includes heating, ventilation, air conditioning, drinking water cooling systems, automatic fire detection and extinguishing systems.
In terms of firepower, the M113AS4 is equipped with an electric one-man turret, operating a 12.7mm M2HB heavy machine gun. The new turret, supplied by Tenix Defense Systems, is specifically designed for Australia’s M113, giving the commander more space and visibility. The turret is also equipped with day and night vision equipment, which provided by Electro Optic Systems. On the sides of the vehicle are two racks for mounting 7.62 mm machine guns. Overall, the M113AS4 is a quite perfect upgrade of the Australians.
The Australian army is still continuing to further develop its armored personnel carrier. According to CNBC, the Australian army is working with BAE Systems to develop unmanned combat vehicles with autonomous technology based on M113AS4. M113AS4 will be fully automated thanks to artificial intelligence technology and machine learning that can perform combat or reconnaissance missions with the help of a variety of combat robots. It will gradually replace the human presence in many different areas of combat.
The introduction of artificial intelligence technology deeply applied to military weapons is facing skepticism and opposition from the scientific community. There are concerns that when machines reach a certain level of development, they will be able to self-control and this is very dangerous if they are armed.Currently, many countries around the world are also pursuing the application of artificial intelligence technology in the military field to different degrees. However, the limitations of current technology are not enough for war machines to be able to completely replace soldiers on the battlefield.