Title: Centauro Sparks Armored Personnel Carrier
Macabees - March 24, 2008 04:26 PM (GMT)
Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)
The Centauro Sparks is born of the international REQUIREMENT for airborne mechanized infantry operations. The vehicles name stems from the mythical half-horse half-man creator of ancient mythology, and from the pagan god of airborne-amphibious warfare Mike Sparks. Sistemas Terrestres Segovia, of the Kingdom of Castilla y Belmonte, has finally realized the wisdom of the words of this mythical military strategist, and the name underscores the vehicle’s utility. The Centauro Sparks is a high-speed (Centauro), multi-mission (Sparks) platform. As previously mentioned, the Centauro Sparks is fully airborne capable; at about sixteen and a half tons of weight it can be carried in tactical transport aircraft, and the suspension and electronics are built to withstand the high shock loads of a parachute reinforced landing. Consequently, in land-based operations the Centauro Sparks has a high tactical value, as it can operate in both mechanized and airborne formations. It provides the infantry the necessary armoured support behind enemy lines, and gives them a lightweight platform to move quickly and without restriction. This vehicle is also fully amphibious capable, using a double hull construction (the original welded steel support and a second titanium ‘hull’) and an appliqué trim vane; two water jets on either side of the hull provide the vehicle’s propulsion in the water, while the vehicle’s turbine provides the multi-use power pack. As a consequence, the Centauro Sparks can be purchased for all armed forces’ infantry units – naval infantry or marines, airborne infantry, mechanized infantry, motorized infantry, armored infantry, et cetera.
Why is the Centauro Sparks superior to any infantry combat vehicle (ICV)? At almost seventeen tons the vehicle can be transported by the sheer majority of tactical transports. For example, the C-130H/E can fly 2,800 nautical miles without a payload, however, with a maximum payload of 20,411 kilograms the maximum range decreases to 240 nautical miles – it’s important to note, also, that can mean the trip to the target location and back; consequently, maximum range can decrease to 120 nautical miles! With a 16,500kg payload the same aircraft can fly over 1,000 nautical miles (return trip included). Perhaps just as important, with the Centauro Sparks the same aircraft can successfully undergo assault landings, while this isn’t true for heavier vehicles – the Centauro Sparks is just under the maximum weight limit; this weight limit takes into consideration the 60,000 kg total weight limit, the 40,000 kg of the weight of the aircraft, and the 3,175 kg worth of fuel. JUST AS CRUCIAL, the L113 has the PROPER DIMENSIONS TO BE LOADED INTO SMALL TACTICAL TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT! Larger ICVs do not have this luxury, and therefore often have to be shipped in pieces – this is not an issue with the L113 Centauro Sparks.
The L113 is also lighter than any modern turreted infantry combat vehicle, and boasts of a high level of firepower (high-pressure 13.3mm autocannon); the L113 is also easier to turn into surrogate vehicles, such as the L113-C50 anti-tank vehicle, equipped with six anti-tank missiles, or the L113-T90 artillery re-supply vehicle. The amount of infantry combat vehicles light enough to be used as airborne mechanized platforms, amphibious assault craft and mechanized infantry carriers are close to none. Furthermore, while newer infantry combat vehicles can carry nine or ten men, the L113 Centauro Sparks can transport any squad size up to fifteen men large, plus the driver and dedicated gunner – seventeen men total. The L113 is spacious enough to carry multiple litters, and therefore can double as an ambulance during airborne or amphibious operations where dedicated ambulance variants are unavailable. Furthermore, using troop hatches to the rear of the vehicle, mounted infantry can fight upright – the vehicle also makes use of a number of remotely controlled light machine guns which can be dismounted and used by infantry on the ground. The L113 is far more fuel efficient than heaver infantry combat vehicles, and has a small gas turbine which can be replaced on the field at a very quick velocity. In regards to survivability, the frontal arc of the vehicle can defeat standard 30mm armor piercing sabots, and has all-around protection against shaped charges using light non-explosive reactive armor. (OOC: Thank you Mike Sparks, for your wisdom – this write-up wouldn’t be possible without your multiple articles on the M113 FIGHTING GAVIN.)
Perhaps one of the most important features to consider, when weighing small armored personnel carriers against infantry combat vehicles, is that the L113 is ridiculously LESS EXPENSIVE! A modern wheeled or tracked infantry combat vehicle can cost between five and six million dollars, and with the most advanced technology the price can skyrocket to over eight million dollars. Even older infantry combat vehicles will cost more than three million dollars. On the other hand, the L113 is currently priced at FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND dollars – in other words, the L113 is almost EIGHT TIMES CHEAPER than the least expensive infantry combat vehicle and SIXTEEN TIMES cheaper than most current infantry combat vehicles. The affordability is obvious; a government can purchase sixteen L113s for every one infantry combat vehicle, although this should also be weighed with the FACT that the L113 can carry many more dismounts. As a consequence, an army, navy or air force will spend MUCH LESS on the much more capable multi-mission L113 than on an infantry fighting vehicle. It’s simple math – if an army needs to outfit a battalion of 1,000 men with some sort of mechanization with dismount capability it will cost less than twenty-seven million dollars to procure enough L113s to mechanize the entire battalion; on the other hand, it will cost over 333 million dollars to do so with a three million dollar IFV, or more than double with a more modern IFV. With six hundred million dollars a government could acquire one thousand five hundred L113s - enough for 22,500 men! In other words, for what it costs to outfit one battalion with infantry combat vehicles you could outfit over THREE INFANTRY BRIGADES. It’s clear that for a much lower cost, the L113 allows for greater versatility versus the latest infantry combat vehicle.
The vehicle’s main weapon the single HammerFist remote weapon station platform fixed near the front of vehicle. However, due to the modular nature of HammerFist, the fact that infringement on the internal volume of the vehicle being minimal and the ample surface area on the roof of the L113 Centauro Sparks up to three more remote weapon stations can be applied to the vehicle. The three mounting rings, around the three hatches to the rear of the vehicle, can mount light and medium machine guns of all kinds, offering more firepower to the vehicle’s dismounts; these can be controlled from the inside of the vehicle through a lever. To save costs, the HammerFist remote weapon system is not fully developed – tens of thousands of dollars are saved considering the fact that the remote weapon station does not need ample panels in the fighting compartment, like it does on the Lince. The HammerFist used on Castillian L113s costs $160,000; the cost of the remote weapon station makes up almost half of the cost of the vehicle, as most of the vehicle’s electronics are integrated into the remote weapon station. Therefore, it should be assumed that the addition of more HammerFist on the vehicle will radically increase the price per unit (PPU) – in fact, the use of only one weapon station on Castillian L113 is largely due to cost considerations. It should be remembered that the HammerFist is the same remote weapon station which can be found on the Lince and Lynx main battle tanks – as production continues, prices will decrease considerably.
Castillian L113s mount the same heavy machine gun that is mounted on the Lince – the G4B 13.3mm HMG. The remote weapon station mounted sponson, or ammunition box, carries six hundred 13.3mm rounds and additional ammunition can be carried in aluminum sponsons mounted onto the vehicle itself. The G4B uses fully combustible links to avoid jamming, although the fact that the remote weapon station is mounted outside of the vehicle makes it a better idea to use link less feed, or standard belt and link – the jam can be easily fixed by the vehicle’s gunner or dismounts. The HammerFist remote weapon station can accept large automatic grenade launchers and any light and medium machine gun, and heavy machine guns of up to 15mm. Modified HammerFist stations can mount heavier armaments, including 20mm, 25mm and even 30mm automatic cannons – however, these modifications are heavy; a similar modification is designed for the Pantera infantry support vehicle, although the weapon is entirely turret and HammerFist is turned into an internal weapons mount. Regardless, the point is that the remote weapon system can use foreign machine guns of similar or lesser caliber and therefore does not pose an obstacle for nations that use different caliber ammunition than the Kingdom of Castilla y Belmonte. Furthermore, as mentioned before, the HammerFist can be customized by individual nations based on the technology level desired and cost considerations. It’s important to remember that the HammerFist RWS allows for accurate fire on the move, and is largely designed for tactical warfare – one of the best options for an infantry carrier like the L113 Centauro Sparks.
As mentioned before, the three infantry hatches at the rear of the chassis can mount light and medium machine guns on the hatch mounting ring. This will give dismount infantry a much larger amount of firepower when in the vehicle, augmenting the vehicle’s self defense. Dismounts can also stand straight up in the vehicle and fire outside of the hatches with their assault rifles or whatever other weapon is issued – in other words, squad automatic weapons and platoon level medium machine guns can be put to use while physically mounted onto the hatch rings, while other infantry can fire using their assault rifles or side arms. The can also mount a 60mm roof-mounted mortar to increase its firepower against infantry anti-tank teams, or other clusters of enemy ground units – the mortar can also fire smoke rounds, illumination rounds and even projectiles with a limited amount of submunitions. Sometimes, the hatches to the rear can be seen partially surrounded by a ‘bird cage’ to increase the protection of firing dismounts – these bird cages can be applied by a unit at will and easily, and are mostly of national fabrication; in other words, the bird cage is not issued with the vehicle – it’s an additional element of protection which can be added on. Regardless, this type of self-protection system is very versatile because infantry can dismount the machine guns on the vehicle and apply them to their operations on the ground. If the remote weapon system is outfitted with an infantry-capable heavy machine gun, then this too can be dismounted and used on the ground – the G4B is not capable of this due to weight considerations, and the length of the breech; it’s specifically a vehicle mounted machine gun. However, the option always exists if the L113 is going to be used in high intensity tactical warfare.
As has already been said, the L113 is easy to modify, and such modifications may be desirable to increase the versatility of the vehicle in service with your nation. For example, the L113 can easily mount a number of ‘heavy’ anti-tank missiles – these can either be infantry portable anti-tank missiles near the 100mm diameter, or can be heavier pod mounted anti-tank missiles in the 150-170mm area. Such missiles can give the L113 excellent anti-tank capability, and still carry infantry – depending on the amount of missiles the vehicle might also be able to make use of its single remote weapon station. Therefore, if mixed at platoon or company level the modularity of the L113 makes for an excellent combined-arms combination. The L113 can even mount a heavy mortar, such as in the 120mm caliber! There are few infantry combat vehicles cheap enough to allow for such a modification, and given the amount of base vehicles you can purchase with the affordability of the L113 modifications of sufficient enough mortar carriers to intermix at company level. The L113 can even be outfitted with recoilless launchers, and makes a perfect chassis for an urban assault vehicle – four recoilless launchers, a remote weapon station with heavy caliber cannon and enough dismounts for a fire team or squad! In simpler words, the L113 chassis is so cheap, modular and versatile that multiple chassis aren’t required to provide a unit with combined arms mechanization – it can all be applied to the L113. In fact, dozens of variations of the L113 are possible with a little imagination. In terms of firepower modifications, the Castillian operates quite a few and will introduce new modifications in the near future. Existing variations include: L113-C50 anti-tank vehicle, L113-M120 120mm mortar carrier, L113-A10 urban assault vehicle (prototype stage), and L113-M85 85 mm airborne flexible mortar and L113-MH90 mountain howitzer.
One of the L113’s greatest features is its lightweight and effective protection system, which is completely modular. This latter fact means that the armor can be exchanged to decrease vehicle weight where heavy armor is unnecessary, or increase armor weight where heavier armor is required. Field application of heavier armor is completely possible, and is a fast process, meaning that once the vehicle is on the ground units can strip existing armor blocks add heavier or lighter armor blocks depending on their mission. One can no longer argue that lightweight armor personnel vehicles are obsolete due to low protection, given that the L113 can achieve superior levels of protection than any infantry combat vehicle for the same weight. These add-on packages can vary from enough armor to stop heavy caliber infantry weapons – such as 12mm armor-piercing projectiles – to heavy explosive reactive armor to stop up to high-caliber armor piercing fin stabilized sabots. The standard armor blocks provided can protect against man portable unguided high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rockets and against medium caliber armor piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabots. Furthermore, the armor offers excellent repeatability and is considerably lightweight compared to more conventional armor systems. This armor is arranged in bolt-on panels which are placed over the vehicle’s side armor and upper and lower glacis plates. Similar packages can be added on to the vehicle’s rear surface area if required, even to the electrically deployed rear door for dismounting infantry. Perhaps one of the most persuasive factors of the armor is that it’s CHEAP and EASILY MANUFACTURED.
The standard armor is mounted to the second ‘hull’ titanium plate armor, and is non-explosive reactive armor – or ‘bulging armor’. Consequently, it offers high protection against shaped charges and extremely low weight for the level of protection offered. The module’s protection against medium-caliber armor-piercing projectiles is mostly offered by the steel encasement and the new materials used by the bulging armor which makes it more effective than older bulging armor applied to foreign main battle tanks. Particularly, instead of steel or aluminum thin plates the L113’s armor uses titanium bulging plates to erode penetrating shaped charge warheads and offer some level of protection against armor-piercing ammunition. These thin plates are placed between thicker layers of S-Glass – glass armor has shown a great propensity for ‘spring-back’ behavior, due to its high compressibility. For bulging armor, this is a highly desirable characteristic. Classical bulging armor have used rubber or polyurethane as the spacing material, but glass should increase the bulging velocity of the ‘flier plate’ and will increase the mass efficiency of the armor – greater effect and lesser weight. Glass has also proven to be an extremely capable lightweight protection measure against ‘high-caliber’ shaped charge warheads by itself, which increases its value when used in bulging armor (Held, Manfred, Glass Armour and Shaped Charge Jets, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, Vol. 23, 1998, pp. 105-110). In the future, the S-glass may be replaced with another material of lower density, although a material of similar compressibility must be found. Nonetheless, it has been found that maximum bulging velocity can be achieved if the inter-layer material has a density between 1-1.5g/cm3 – although the relationship between interlayer material and bulging velocity is not linear (Rosenberg, Z. and Dekel, E., A Parametric Study of the Bulging Process in Passive Cassettes with 2-D Numerical Simulations, International Journal of Impact Engineering, Vol. 21, No. 4, 1998, pp. 297-30.5)
Bulging armor, or non-explosive reactive armor, is limited against kinetic energy threats because the reaction of the compressible interlayer material is heavily reliant on the impact being hydrodynamic (Held, Manfred, Study of Jet Interaction with Interlayer Material of Bulging Armor, Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, Vol. 29, No. 6, 2004, pp. 349-353). A penetrator becomes hydrodynamic when its moving at the speed of sound of its own material and of the material it’s penetrating – for heavy and hard materials this can be as high as 4,000m/sec (Ferrari, Georgio, The ‘Hows’ and ‘Whys’ of Armour Penetration, Military Technology, October 1998). Therefore, the standard armor protection of the L113 is very effective against high-caliber shaped charge warheads, but not so effective against any caliber armor-piercing ammunition. Therefore, these protection modules also include a relatively thick layer of triple hardness steel and titanium. Protection of the side modules near the front is rated against short 30mm armor piercing projectiles, and to the rear the armor protects against 15mm armor piercing projectiles. The front modules include protection against long 30mm armor piercing projectiles in the upper glacis, and short 30mm armor piercing projectiles on the lower glacis – the protection levels is a function of the allowable weight. Nevertheless, this protection is on par with the protection of a standard multi-million dollar infantry combat vehicle. Generally, most ICVs protect against 30mm APFSDS on the glacis plate and on the frontal turret plating, but not on the sides. Therefore, areas where the entirety of the vehicle can be engaged prefer the L113 to larger and less protected infantry combat vehicles. It should be noted that bulging armor is multi-hit capable, meaning it will continue to offer a high level of protection after it has been engaged for the first time – this makes it an extremely lucrative armor. It should be noted that other vehicles have used similar concepts to bulging armor, including modular expanding armor (MEXAS).
The standard bolt-on armor bricks on the L113 include ‘integrated’ slat armor – the aluminum ‘blinds’ are integrated in order to force projectiles of all-kinds to begin penetration at an angle. Bulging armor has a greater effect against threats if these threats attack at any given angle of incidence, although it should be noted that glass performs better when acting perpendicular to the projectile. Nevertheless, a greater level of erosion by the flier plates is experienced if they interact with the threat when said threat has been induced by a degree of yaw. The integrated ‘blinds’ give the vehicle a very strange appearance, and it looks like a massive radiator given that the armored grill under the engine looks very similar. This doesn’t mean, however, that the addition of slat armor on the field may not be necessary – by adding another ‘layer’ of slat armor during urban combat, enemy rocket-propelled shaped charges will be detonated a greater stand-off distance, and any armor will react more positively if the shaped charge has been detonated before or after its preferred stand-off distance. Furthermore, as mentioned, heavy reactive armor can be applied to the L113 – including mixes between explosive reactive armor and bulging armor. Vehicle protection can also be increased to protect against greater kinetic energy threats, at the cost of greater weight. However, modular armor makes changing values of protection cheap and easy to apply on the field.
Finally, the vehicle also features increased protection against mines and improvised explosive devices. The floor plating is protected by a multi-layer armor designed to absorb and deflect the blast of a heavy anti-vehicle mine or an improvised explosive device – an explosive formed penetrator will not penetrate the floor plating of the L113. The crew’s seats will increase survivability by reducing the effect of the shockwaves and jolting on the crew – the dismounts are not equipped with the same bulky seats, but their rudimentary seating includes head braces to avoid having their necks snap if the vehicle jolts abnormally during an explosion. In this regard, the L113 is better protected against mines and IEDs than previous armored personnel carriers. A V-shaped hull was not incorporated due to weight considerations. To defeat anti-tank missiles and rockets a new active protection system has also been included - this is a variation of the APS on the Lince, and is used on the Lynx. Instead of relying on shrapnel and explosive, the active protection system's munitions rely on the created shockwave to induce yaw on the threat or destroy it. This decreases collateral damage and increases lethality.
The engine’s power pack is composed of an all-electric transmission and a gas turbine engine. The Centauro keeps the same Balzán 800T-96A transmission as on the Lince, although the export version of the Centauro uses Industria Mecánica Real’s IMR-8020-20A mechanical transmission. Although heavier, the advantage of the latter is that it deals a greater amount of energy to the sprocket (82%) and is the same as the transmission used on the Lynx main battle tank. The engine is a variation of the TA serie 600 gas turbine on the Lince. Specifically, energy output is reduced to 900hp in return for a much smaller engine – between .59 and .63m3. This means that the Centauro’s power pack is incredibly lightweight and ridiculously small, making power pack swaps much easier and faster on the field. Furthermore, the gas turbine is simple and easy to maintain. Furthermore, the power pack includes a small auxiliary power unit (APU) to keep the vehicle running while the engine is on idle, increasing fuel efficiency of the power pack. Low noise production is coupled with a low heat signature due to the materials used to insulate the engine and the recuperator which uses a lot of the energy wasted as heat – inevitably, the recuperator also increases the working temperature of the engine and increases the efficiency of the gas turbine. As mentioned, this is the exact same technology that is currently used on the Castillian Lince and the export Lynx main battle tank. The 900hp engine gives a power to weight ratio of 54:1 – the engine can be considered oversize, but the TA serie 600 can only work effectively at a minimum power output of 900hp. Currently, Turboas is working on a high efficiency micro turbine which may be incorporated into the L113 at a later date.
The vehicle’s tracks are continuous band tracks, used for the simplicity in design, cheapness of manufacturing the tracks and for the low noise production during movement. The low-weight of the vehicle makes repair of the tracks much easier than a heavier main battle tank. Furthermore, on the L113 the band tracks are composed of three segments which are connected through end-connectors, making replacing the track much easier. Classical band track require the vehicle to be lifted, since the tracks do not feature links of any kind – this poses as a severe disadvantage for heavy tanks, since heavy lifting equipment would be made necessary. On low-weight vehicles band tracks are an option, and with the introduction of segmented continuous band tracks they are much more desirable for low-weight armored fighting vehicles. Furthermore, the L113’s rubber continuous band tracks are extremely lightweight – they are weighed at 26kg/m, instead of the classical 64kg/m. Band tracks are seeing greater use in international armored fighting vehicle manufacturing, although the L113 remains one of the first vehicles internationally to incorporate these types of tracks – nevertheless, band tracks will probably not be used on the heavier vehicles of the Lince/Lynx series. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to compare weights – standard tracks composed out of aluminum weigh a minimum of 74kg/m (although, aluminum was discarded due to its inability to cope with the stresses imposed of vehicle tracks), while the Type 640 lightweight steel tracks on the Lince weigh 95kg/m. In other words, the tracks on the L113 weigh almost a fourth of the weight of lightweight steel tracks per meter of track length!
The vehicle’s crew and dismounted infantry can tolerate high off-road velocities thanks to the high vertical deflection range of the roadwheels and to the all-steel torsion-bar suspension. A torsion bar suspension was chosen over a hydropneumatic suspension due to the export Lynx’s torsion bar suspension and because the torsion-bar suspension is a cheaper option. Furthermore, the all-steel suspension can withstand the shock of being parachuted into the landing zone during an airborne operation. The vertical deflection range is the same as that on the Lince – 550mm of bump and rebound. This conglomeration of features allows the L113 to reach off-road velocities of 65km/h over relatively rough terrain, which is fast for a vehicle of this type. The vehicle’s extremely low ground-pressure also makes a greater extent of terrain capable to withstand the weight of the Centauro Sparks. This increases the vehicle’s versatility, as it can operate on terrain where heavier armored personnel carriers and infantry combat vehicles can’t. This is an important advantage to consider for nations with very soft soils. On that topic, the L113 is also more capable for operating in mountainous terrain, and forest or jungle type areas. The high level of protection makes it less susceptible to ambushes in this latter type of terrain, as well. Consequently, it can only be concluded that the L113 is FAR SUPERIOR IN GROUND BASED OPERATIONS!
A recap on the mobility features of the L113 is necessary. The L113 has SUPERIOR cross-country mobility to any wheeled vehicle and is on par with any tracked vehicle. If that isn’t enough, the L113 CAN TRAVERSE A GREATER PERCENTAGE OF TYPES OF TERRAIN. The L113 is AMPHIBIOUS, meaning it does not need to undergo preparations to cross a river and only needs a trim vane to make it capable for amphibious landings on foreign beaches (an easy addition to the glacis plate – the design includes two lugs for the application of a lightweight steel trim vane). The L113 is the PERFECT lightweight armored personnel vehicle to mechanize AIRBORNE INFANTRY – the L113 and variants based on the chassis can add combined arms armored fighting vehicles to a historically non-mechanized type of unit. The L113 boasts of a high amount of dismounted infantry, increasing employment flexibility, and can fit in small tactical transport unlike heavier infantry combat vehicles. In other words, ‘low speed’ units can suddenly turn into HIGH SPEED AIRMOBILE MECHANIZED UNITS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION.
The dismount compartment in the rear of the vehicle contains a coffee maker, which can be interchanged with a tea brewer for Redcoat countries. The dismounts can escape the vehicle from the rear door - for normal dismount operations - or from the three electrically driven hatches on roof the vehicle. The crew can escape through the rear door as well, as the fighting compartment is well articulated with the rear of the vehicle. No belly hatches exist to increase protection against improvised explosive devices and mines.
No other vehicle in existence has this perfect blend of mobility, protection and lethality. The Centauro Sparks is the ULTIMATE MULTI-MISSION armored fighting vehicle of the next-generation. Cheap and highly mobile it’s the perfect response for a large, or even small, army looking for ultra mechanization. From airborne forces to amphibious marines, the L113 can provide the mechanization needed for high-speed operations. Furthermore, the lost cost of the chassis and armor makes it the perfect platform to create a ridiculous amount of variants for different uses – anti-tank vehicle, mortar carrier, ammunition re-supply vehicle, ambulance, mechanized mountain self-propelled howitzer, GODLY SUBMARINE SPECIAL FORCES INSERTION VEHICLE, SELF-PROPELLED ANCIENT WARFARE BALLISTA EQUIPPED WITH GREEK FIRE FOR TELEPORTATION INTO 600 B.C.E.! The possibilities are ENDLESS. If you still haven’t bought the L113 you’re Hataria.
Cost Per Unit: $400,200
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