Israel sent unmanned M113 suicide APCs to Jabalya and Rafah

The American-made M113, which was delivered to Israel years ago, has found a new role in the Gaza conflict. Recent photos depict the M113 navigating the streets of Jabalya and Rafah. Analysts believe the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] have repurposed some M113s into Unmanned Ground Vehicles [UGVs]. 

Israel sent unmanned M113 suicide APCs to Jabalya and Rafah
Photo credit: RID

This isn’t the first time claims of such modifications have surfaced. Back in February, there were similar reports of unmanned M113s in Gaza. The Italian news outlet RID, citing “unnamed sources close to the IDF,” noted that these Israeli M113 drones serve various purposes. According to RID, “The M-113s are mainly used for logistical tasks but have also been deployed as vehicle-borne improvised explosive device [VBIED] suicide bombers—a tactic previously seen with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and during the war in Ukraine.” 

Specific details about the capabilities of these unmanned M113s remain scarce. It is feasible that they could be used to delve deeper into Rafah, safeguarding soldiers’ lives while expanding the unmanned vehicles. One M113 has been observed with remote weapon stations, though no footage has yet surfaced showing M113s equipped with remote anti-tank systems.

US saw the robotic M113 with EOS R150S RMS and FLETCHER 70mm WS
Photo: Twitter

To transform the M113 into an unmanned ground vehicle [UGV], the first step involves retrofitting the vehicle with remote control systems. This includes installing actuators on the steering, throttle, and braking systems to allow for remote operation. These actuators are typically controlled by a central processing unit [CPU] that receives commands from a remote operator. 

The next step is to integrate advanced sensors and cameras. These sensors, which may include LIDAR, radar, and infrared cameras, provide the necessary situational awareness for the remote operator or autonomous navigation system. The data collected by these sensors is processed in real-time to make navigation decisions. 

Communication systems are crucial for the operation of an unmanned M113. High-bandwidth, low-latency communication links, such as radio frequency [RF] or satellite communications, are installed to ensure reliable data transmission between the UGV and the control station. This allows for real-time control and feedback.

Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia send M113 to Ukraine
Photo: Twitter

Autonomous navigation software is another critical component. This software uses algorithms to process sensor data and make decisions about path planning, obstacle avoidance, and target tracking. Machine learning techniques can be employed to improve the UGV’s performance over time. 

Power management systems must be upgraded to support the additional electronic components. This may involve installing auxiliary power units [APUs] or enhancing the vehicle’s existing power distribution system to ensure a stable power supply to all new systems. 

Safety and fail-safe mechanisms are essential to prevent accidents and ensure the UGV can operate reliably. This includes emergency stop functions, redundant control systems, and health monitoring systems that can detect and respond to system failures.

M113 tested LUCH anti-aircraft missile at an angle of 15 degrees
Photo credit: Defence-Blog

Finally, the integration of a user interface for the remote operator is necessary. This interface typically includes a control console with joysticks, touchscreens, and displays that provide real-time video feeds and sensor data, allowing the operator to effectively control and monitor the UGV. 

The M113 is an American armored personnel carrier [APC] that has been widely used since its introduction in the early 1960s. It was designed to transport infantry soldiers to the battlefield while providing protection from small arms fire and shrapnel. 

The dimensions of the M113 are approximately 4.86 meters [16 feet] in length, 2.68 meters [8.8 feet] in width, and 2.5 meters [8.2 feet] in height. It has a combat weight of around 12.3 tons.

M113 is headed for retirement after the US unveiled its replacement
Photo credit: BAE Systems

The M113 is powered by a Detroit Diesel 6V53T engine, which is a 6-cylinder, 2-stroke diesel engine capable of producing around 275 horsepower. This engine allows the vehicle to reach speeds of up to 64 km/h [40 mph] on roads and provides a range of approximately 480 kilometers [300 miles]. 

The M113 is equipped with various types of equipment to enhance its operational capabilities. This includes communication systems, night vision devices, and NBC [nuclear, biological, chemical] protection systems. It also features a fully amphibious capability, allowing it to cross water obstacles. 

The M113 is fitted with several types of systems to support its role as an APC. These systems include a power-operated ramp for quick troop deployment, internal heating and cooling systems for crew comfort, and a suspension system designed to handle rough terrain. 

Pakistani army welcomes locally-made 'M113' anti-tank vehicle
Photo credit:

The primary armament of the M113 typically consists of a single .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun mounted on the roof. Some variants of the M113 have been modified to carry additional weapons, such as grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles, or even small cannons, depending on the mission requirements.


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