Saudi M113 Fleet Upgrades Underway
Saudi Arabia has an unusual land forces structure whereby it has an “American brigade” (8th Armored Brigade) currently armed with US equipment like M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradleys et. al., and a “French brigade” (4th Armored Brigade) armed with French equipment including AMX-30 tanks, AMX-10P APCs, et. al. This approach hedges against supplier continuity and creates wider markers for geopolitical favors, at the cost of increased maintenance burdens, and potential logistical and interoperability headaches. Which are generally outsourced via comprehensive maintenance contracts.
In August 2006, the BAE joint venture FNSS of Ankara, Turkey won a $200+ million modernization deal involving a major overhaul of 300 Saudi M113 armored personnel carriers, out of the kingdom’s fleet of 1,750-2,000. The overhaul includes everything from engines, to chemical warfare protection systems, to new thermal imaging equipment. FNSS had already delivered 64 upgraded M113s over 2004 and in 2005, and 90% of the engineers at the Saudi final assembly facilities near Sadr Al Kharj were reportedly trained by FNSS engineers.
June 17/08: MTU Friedrichshafen announces an order from FNSS to provide 300 new engines, as part of the Saudi M113 upgrade program. The EUR 10 million contract will see Detroit Diesel’s 260 kW/ 350 bhp Series 6V53T 6-cylinder engine design used to equip the upgraded vehicles.