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M163 Vulcan



Overview


M163 Vulcan

US Army M163 PIVADS on the move.
Source: US DOD (unknown photographer) - © public domain

Origin
United States
Type
Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun
Entered service
1968
Status
In service
Development
1964 - 1966
Developer
United States - General Electric
Production
1968 - 1982
Producer
United States - General Electric
Number produced
A total 671 produced
Unit cost
$ 87.000 per unit for M163 in 1974
$ 113.000 per unit for M163 in 1975
Designations
VADS / Vulcan Air Defense System
PIVADS / Product Improved VADS
Hovet
Israeli service

Description


Introduction

The M163 Vulcan is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun of US origin. Also known as the Vulcan Air Defense System (VADS), it was developed to replace the M42 Duster in US service. The M163 was complemented by the Chaparral self-propelled surface to air missile system in US service. The M163 packs powerful armament that is only of limited use against aircraft due to the lack of automated fire control.

Layout

The M163 can be considered a M167 towed Vulcan system mounted onto a modified M113 armored personnel carrier chassis. The one man turret is power operated and is fitted with a six barrel 20mm M168 Vulcan autocannon. The chassis has been modified with a suspension lock to provide a stable firing platform and with sponsons to add buoyancy.

Firepower

The 20mm M168 Vulcan autocannon is the only armament of the M163. It has a selective rate of fire of 1.000 or 3.000 rpm and usually 1.900 rounds of 20x102mm ammunition are carried. The maximum anti-aircraft range is 1.2 km, the ground support range is 3 km and the slant range is 4.5 km. With the PIVADS upgrade and APDS ammunition the anti-aircraft range is increased to 2.6 km.

Fire control

The original M163 was fitted with the VADS system with manual guidance using optics. The PIVADS upgrade initiated in 1982 adds a 5 km range only radar, a lead computing sight with microprocessor and improved electric drive system. Even with this upgrade the M163 is a clear weather only system with limited effectiveness against fast aircraft

Protection

The aluminum armor protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters. The turret is open and during operation the gunner is partly exposed. An NBC system is fitted but smoke grenade dischargers are not.

Mobility

The tracked chassis based on the M113 provides a good mobility, especially in rough terrain. A 212 hp Detriot diesel engine is fitted. As with the M113 the M163 cannot keep up with the M2 Bradley and M1 Abrams in the field. The sponsons fitted on the hull side add buoyancy and make the M163 amphibious by compensating for the additional weight over the original M113.

Users

The M163 was acquired in large numbers by the US Army and was exported to several nations. It has been used on conflicts on several occasions, mainly as a ground support weapon. In US service it has been replaced by the Avenger. The Avenger is much more effective against aircraft but of limited use as a ground support weapon. The M163 remains in use with several US allies.

Variants


M163A2 Vulcan

US Army M163A2 during excersize Brave Shield 18.
Source: US Army (unknown photographer) - © public domain

Overview of M163 variants

M163
Original production version based on the a M113 chassis derivative called the M741.
M163A1
M163 with modifications to bring the chassis up to M113A1 level. Many were upgraded to PIVADS (Product Improved VADS) by improved targeting equipment including a lead computing sight with microprocessor and range only radar.
M163A2
M163A1 with modifications to bring the chassis up to M113A2 level. If fitted the PIVADS upgrade was retained.
Facts M163A1 Vulcan
General
Origin
United States
Type
Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun
Crew
4 (commander, driver, gunner, assistant)
Dimensions
Weight
12.3 t combat load
Length
4.86 m
Width
2.85 m overall
Height
2.74 m overall
Armament
Type
20mm M168 Vulcan minigun
Ammunition
2.280 rounds, 1.180 ready to fire
Rate of fire
1.000 or 3.000 rpm, selectable
Elevation
-5 to +80° elevation, 45°/s powered
Traverse
360° traverse, 60°/s powered
Stabilizer
No
Range
1.2 km against aircraft, 2.6 km with PIVADS upgrade
Up to 3 km in ground support, 4.5 km slant range
Sensors
Radar
Range only radar, 5 km range
Night vision
Yes, driver only
Automotive
Chassis
Tracked chassis, 5 roadwheels, drive sprocket front, idler rear
2.16 m track, 2.67 m length of track on ground
Ground pressur
0.61 kg/cm2
Engine
Detroit Diesel 6V52 6-cylinder water-cooled diesel
Power output
215 hp at 2.800 rpm
Transmission
6 forward, 2 reverse
Mobility
Max speed
68 km/h on road
Fuel
360 L
Range
480 km
Power to weight ratio
17.5 hp/t
Ground clearance
0.41 m
Wall
0.6 m
Trench
1.7 m
Gradient
60 %
Slope
30 %
Fording
Amphibious
Protection
Armor type
Aluminum
Armor thickness
12 to 38 mm
NBC system
Yes
Smoke
No

Media


Related articles


Machbet

The Machbet is an Israeli modification of the M163 Vulcan self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. The Machbet adds a pod with four FIM-92 Stinger missiles. These greatly increase the engagement range and have a much better effectiveness against fast aircraft.

M167 Vulcan

The M167 Vulcan is the towed version of the M163 and features similar armament and range only radar.

M113

The M163 Vulcan is based on the chassis of the M113 armored personnel carrier.