YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz.-- The M113 Armored Personnel Carrier and its variants are iconic vehicles in mechanized infantry history.
First fielded in 1962, it was ubiquitous during the conflict in Vietnam and has seen service in virtually every American military action in the ensuing decades.
Though largely surpassed in both use and operation by the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, variants of the M113 continue in operation to this day.
Nonetheless, the M113 was built for a different generation of warfighting, and the recently developed Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) incorporates a long list of upgrades that make it significantly more advanced than its predecessor.
The AMPV’s five variants—a general purpose vehicle, mission command vehicle, mortar carrier, and medical evacuation and medical treatment vehicles-- have nearly 80% more interior volume than the M113, and significantly more power, survivability, and maneuverability. The cooling and electrical systems are also significantly more robust to accommodate both existing and future upgrades. It boasts the same powertrain and suspension system as the Bradley and M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, which eases maintenance and logistics challenges for all three vehicles in the field.
Currently, multiple AMPVs are undergoing reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM) testing at YPG, with each running miles of simulated missions across road courses featuring various terrain conditions, from paved to gravel to punishing desert washboard that would severely rattle less robust vehicles. As they traverse these courses, test vehicle operators continually verify performance of all the platform’s sophisticated electronics. Earlier tests verified the vehicle’s braking, acceleration, and steering performance on slopes and steep grades, and even through a fording basin and on a dust course tilled for maximum sediment. Samples of the vehicles’ fluids are collected and analyzed at various points throughout the tests.
“We monitor those for any degradation and wear,” said Erick Hurtado, test team lead. “It gives us some insight on what is going on internally in the vehicle.”
In addition to the hundreds of miles of road courses, YPG has the range space to conduct live function fire tests of the vehicle from both stationary and moving positions, and utilizes this capability as part of the AMPV testing to test the vehicle’s 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns.
“Every so often there is a reoccurring firing mission within RAM,” said Hurtado. “We’ll pause the accumulation of RAM miles, go to a gun position and fire a set number of rounds, then go back to regular RAM mission.”
Operational testing of the AMPV by Soldiers is slated to begin next year, so YPG’s Combat Automotive testers and support personnel work hard to keep the schedule on track. Simultaneously, the testers are planning mission profiles and preparing road courses for additional testing at other YPG test centers.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” said Hurtado. “Every test officer has a role—that’s how we are able to make it work. The experienced test officers on the program know their mission and duties.”