Friday, October 28, 2016

Is the M-113 Arisgator Ideal for the AFP?

The Philippine Army obtains numerous M-113 armored personnel carriers in its arsenal. Moreover, having these APCs modified in a form of an Infantry Fighting Vehicle already took place. With that raises the question of a floating kit that makes these APCs more amphibious than the way it used to be.

M-113 in the Philippine Army Arsenal
The Philippine Army since the Vietnam War already obtained these M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers. These are further increased when the United States delivered 114 of these units as an additional complement to its arsenal.

The army further enhances its M-113 by having modified versions of those acquired from Elbit Company of Israel. It all started by having six RCWS-armed M113s in the arsenal. These are also further added by having three 30~40mm gun turret in which it can complement with other modified M113s such as the repair version or the ones armed with scavenged Scorpion Turrets. Hence, these modified armored personnel carriers, called as infantry fighting vehicles, are an additive to the already-capable mechanized division of the Philippine Army with the chances of improving it to more heightened level which adhere to the AFP's aim of a world-class army on 2028. Having these M-113 vehicles comes with the chance of having the Arisgator kit coming into play as a possible amphibious product for the Philippine Armed Forces, especially to its possible or say, presumable users Philippine Army and the Philippine Marine Corps. These kits are already proven in service in the Italian armed forces and the Indonesians are looking after it for their Army to deploy in Indonesia's swampy areas and deep rivers where such deployment is ideal.

These kind of discussion comes up with a question for a series of questions where these kits are possibly be a good investment of the armed forces or there are more excellent alternatives therein where it comes to logistics, troop transport and immediate deployment. These in which comes a good question that needs a good, technical and analytical question: "Is the M-113 Arisgator amphibious kit ideal for the AFP?

The same question was raised in the Defense of the Republic of
the Philippines, where such questions are already debunked in Timawa.
In order to solve this kind of question, let us have a kind of insight where the planners are thinking on the ideal matter where in-depth technicalities will be explained thoroughly as the discussion goes on.

The M-113 Arisgator design was made out from the 1990s where the Italians purchased and obtains such design. The Indonesian army is eyeing to have such amphibious craft in which accordingly will definitely help their army to deploy their infantry in swampy areas and deep rivers, somewhat an environment Indonesia have where the Philippines are also having as well.

In this case, here are following variables where we need to answer these questions, which they are given on the following:

1. Are these feasible for the AFP to obtain?
2. Is it ideal for the Philippine Marine Corps to have them?
3. Are there better alternatives for the PMC to have other amphibious craft other than this one, or complementary units coming unto it?
4. Is it ideal for the Philippine Army to obtain them since they have those large stockpile or M-113s?
5. In connection to number four, citing Indonesian Army's interest to have them, is it good for the Philippine Army to adapt what the Indonesians are having?
Specifications for the M-113 Arisgator swim kit of Italy in the 1990s.
Source: Military Vehicles by Chris McNab. Photo from Tan Tian Cai.

According to Chris McNab's book Military Vehicles, the Italian company Aris developed a far cheaper floatation device or rather, a swimming kit, to an already-amphibious M-113 armored personnel carrier where in itself have poor performance on water. With these, the floatation device earned its name as The Arisgator, naming it from the Italian company who developed it.

With the information of its origin now is given,let us return to the question which will bear variable to the discussion in which the Pitz Defense Analysis will now gives its answers based on other discussion matters relating to this topic as well as the analysis given from such discussions in which it bears logic.

1. Are these feasible for the AFP to obtain? Well, the answer to that is a clear yes since the swimming kit made by an Italian company made it to become less expensive to obtain, not to mention that it was really meant that way since a fully-dedicated amphibious vehicle is far more expensive when compared to this one.

Now this is where the discussion gets deeper. It is an undisputed fact that it is affordable for the AFP to obtain. Now another follow-up question sets in, which is "Which branch within the AFP will be the recipient to this vehicles assuming that we acquire them?" To answer that question, the series of questions and mentions earlier are already given that two branches can have them. It is the Philippine Army and the Philippine Navy's sub branch, the Philippine Marine Corps, which will be question to the number two with regards to the ones who are really fond of amphibious landings.

2. Is it ideal for the Philippine Marine Corps to have them? Given the technicalities and the variables at play in this organization, it is possible for them to have such vehicles. But then again, back to the question, is it ideal? The answer is a big, big.....NO.

So, why not? The M-113 are so common in the AFP where compatibility is not an issue? And these things are affordable for the marines to have? The answer to these question is indeed technical in nature that the fundamental point of saying no goes to one, very important detail, somewhat a very important point for the marine corps to consider, which is the amount of troops capable for an amphibious vehicle to carry.

Say, they are the Philippine Marine Corps and they will be the recipient to have such amphibious vehicle. Now, they have these doctrine which sets the standards as to what steps, procedures and ideal numbers, carrying capacity included, are written and is implemented strictly. So in their standards, a larger carrying capacity is needed. Hence, that puts the Arisgator out of the picture considering that it is in their standards that it demands the immediate transfer of infantry, from ship to shore with sheer numbers that is needed to overwhelm beach defenses as well as reducing time for amphibious ships involved in the operations (Landing Craft Units, Landing Ship Tank, Landing Platform Dock) to get exposed from shore artillery which determines the victory of the operation. Hence, it is ideal for the marines to have larger amphibious vehicle such as the AAV-7 (KAAV-7 are the Korean equivalents the Philippines at present is acquiring) so that there will be shorter trips between ship and shore to deploy the whole Marine Battalion and Light Tanks (MBLT). This comes up with another question related to this matter.

3. Are there better alternatives for the PMC to have other amphibious craft other than this one, or complementary units coming unto it? The answer is a yes. There is a better alternative for the PMC to have other amphibious craft. In fact, it is already in the work-in-progress where some accounting and production have already taken place that it is the Hanhwa Techwin (Formerly Samsung Techwin) will be the ones who produce the KAAV-7 which will complement the Tarlac-class LPDs the Navy obtain which is ideal for an amphibious operation. The reason for these things pertains to the marine's doctrine which it was explained in answer number two.

4. Is it ideal for the Philippine Army to obtain them since they have those large stockpile or M-113s? Technicality-wise, considering the compatibility and the logistical advantage due to the enormous number of of these armored personnel carriers in its inventory, no doubt one can say it will be ideal so unto that. Moreover, the term "amphibious" that is defined here is so different that having it traverse a swamp or a river is different than the usual ones done by the Marines such as a shore landing in which it was given earlier. Although it was ideal for the army to have such vehicles to travel marshes, deep rivers and the like, a typical mechanized division, alternatively speaking, will be more opted to self-bridging or self-propelled pontoon equipment where alternative bridges are being built at places where already-made bridges are destroyed or the place renders no structured bridges at all. That will be possible by having the area air dropped by airborne infantry, then supplemented by reinforces through the transport helicopters, then that's the time the army engineers enter the scene by deploying the materials necessary to built a pontoon bridge for a mechanized infantry to passed by.

5. In connection to number four, citing Indonesian Army's interest to have them, is it good for the Philippine Army to adopt what the Indonesians are having? Well, considering the nature of the demands and requisites both forces are aiming, this kind of question cannot be easily answered due to the first and only the very reason there is to consider,  which is the doctrines of each nations have. Albeit the tropical climate both countries have as well as having the same geography such as being an archipelagic nation does not detrimental that what is applied in Indonesia shall be applied in the Philippines. It is because that the different asymmetry of doctrines these nations have aims for different interest as well as different capabilities. Hence, the difference of these things are influenced by what are the threats prevailing in the environment plus the weapons these militaries think they suit the best for the operation. So, one cannot just simply adopt it.


Given the questions, we shed the light as about the good and the bad points about the Arisgator as an ideal amphibious vehicle to the AFP. With that comes a question as to whether the Arisgator ideal for the AFP? Well with that, the final answer here is that it can be ideal if the AFP is a cash-strapped organization where they resort to cheaper equipment so that they can conduct their mandate. But given the present stance of the armed forces, it can be seem as well as non-ideal vehicle considering that other alternatives will benefit the armed forces more than fully relying to these modified M-113s where it's seating capacity is lesser than the KAAV-7 the Philippine Marine Corps will be getting as well as the good proposal of an ideal pontoon bridge like other armies would do. Overall, this vehicle is one, good amphibious machine that Italy obtains for its armed forces where the Indonesia is considering, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines is interested on something else rather than this one, it is deemed good that the alternatives in which they choose is for the benefit of the ever-increasing capabilities of the whole armed forces with its aim to become a world-class army by year 2028.


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