From War Thunder Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Rank VI | Premium | Golden Eagles
Chinese A-5C Pack
This page is about the American SPAA M163. For other versions, see M113 (Family).
GarageImage M163.jpg
ArtImage M163.png
7.7 7.7 7.7
Research:95 000 Specs-Card-Exp.png
Purchase:270 000 Specs-Card-Lion.png
Show in game


The US short-range air defence in the early stages of the Vietnam War consisted of the M42 Dusters, however the fast-paced nature of fighter jets meant that the low rate of fire the 40 mm Bofors provide was no longer sufficient. To improve on this, the 20 mm Vulcan cannon used on American jets was utilized as the basis of the new short-range air defence gun, modified into the M168 gun. Installed onto the common M113 chassis with a tracking radar, the design became known as the M163 Vulcan Air Defense System (VADS). The M163 remained in use with the US military until replaced with systems that utilized the FIM-92 Stinger like the Avenger.

Introduced in Update 1.63 "Desert Hunters", the Gun, Air Defence Artillery, Self-Propelled: 20-mm, M163 provides the necessary short-range air defense capability for the US tech tree. While not as capable nor able to reach out the distance like the larger systems like Gepard, Chieftain Marksman or ZSU-23-4, the M163 does benefits with a very high rate of fire Vulcan armament. Due to the limitations, M163 players may find themselves driving rather close to the front-lines to provide the protection to allies and hit approaching aircraft, so extra care must be taken to not go too far in that an enemy tank will spot the M163. However, when the M163 sends out its tracer load of 20 mm towards the target, it can prove an intimidating sight to the enemies.

General info

Survivability and armour

Armourfront / side / back
Hull38 / 44 / 38
Turret17 / 17 / 17
Crew4 people
Visibility117 %

Armour is not on the operator's side in the M163, as it is thin enough to be destroyed by 12.7 mm machine guns from the sides and rear, and any cannon-sized armament from the front. The turret is partially open, leaving the crew vulnerable to enemy light arms fire. If attacked, the best bet for taking a hit and surviving is to point the engine towards the enemy and hope it absorbs the shot.

Armour type:

  • Aluminum alloy 5083 (hull)
  • Structural steel (front and rear fenders)
  • Rubber-fabric screens (fenders/sideskirts)
Armour Front (Slope angle) Sides Rear Roof
Hull 38+6 mm (45°) Upper Glacis
38 mm (26°) Lower Glacis
29 mm (45°) Engine Maintenance Hatch
44+6 mm Top
32 mm Bottom
38 mm 38 mm
Turret 17 mm Turret Front
150 mm Gun Mantlet
17 mm 17 mm


  • The additional armour does not fully cover the plate it is mounted onto.


Speedforward / back
AB70 / 17 km/h
RB and SB65 / 15 km/h
Number of gears3 forward
1 back
Weight11.2 t
Engine power
AB404 hp
RB and SB212 hp
Power-to-weight ratio
AB36.1 hp/t
RB and SB18.9 hp/t
Game Mode Max Speed (km/h) Weight (tons) Engine power (horsepower) Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
Forward Reverse Stock Upgraded Stock Upgraded
Arcade 70 17 11.2 301 404 26.88 36.07
Realistic 65 15 188 212 16.79 18.93

Modifications and economy

Repair costBasic → Reference
AB3 973 → 5 482 Sl icon.png
RB3 605 → 4 974 Sl icon.png
SB4 839 → 6 677 Sl icon.png
Total cost of modifications77 400 Rp icon.png
128 000 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost2 000 Ge icon.png
Crew training78 000 Sl icon.png
Experts270 000 Sl icon.png
Aces1 100 Ge icon.png
Research Aces670 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
140 / 180 / 240 % Sl icon.png
190 / 190 / 190 % Rp icon.png
Mobility Protection Firepower
Mods new tank traks.png
4 000 Rp icon.png
6 500 Sl icon.png
175 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank suspension.png
3 600 Rp icon.png
5 800 Sl icon.png
155 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank break.png
Brake System
3 600 Rp icon.png
5 800 Sl icon.png
155 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank filter.png
6 700 Rp icon.png
11 000 Sl icon.png
290 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank transmission.png
6 500 Rp icon.png
10 000 Sl icon.png
280 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank engine.png
6 500 Rp icon.png
10 000 Sl icon.png
280 Ge icon.png
Mods tank tool kit.png
Improved Parts
2 600 Rp icon.png
6 500 Sl icon.png
175 Ge icon.png
Mods extinguisher.png
Improved FPE
2 300 Rp icon.png
5 800 Sl icon.png
155 Ge icon.png
Mods tank reinforcement us.png
Crew Replenishment
6 700 Rp icon.png
11 000 Sl icon.png
290 Ge icon.png
Mods tank ammo.png
4 000 Rp icon.png
6 500 Sl icon.png
175 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods new tank horizontal aiming.png
Horizontal Drive
4 000 Rp icon.png
6 500 Sl icon.png
175 Ge icon.png
Mods tank ammo.png
3 600 Rp icon.png
5 800 Sl icon.png
155 Ge icon.png
Mods tank cannon.png
Adjustment of Fire
3 600 Rp icon.png
5 800 Sl icon.png
155 Ge icon.png
Mods new tank vertical aiming.png
Elevation Mechanism
6 700 Rp icon.png
11 000 Sl icon.png
290 Ge icon.png
Mods art support.png
Artillery Support
6 500 Rp icon.png
10 000 Sl icon.png
280 Ge icon.png
Mods night vision device.png
6 500 Rp icon.png
10 000 Sl icon.png
280 Ge icon.png


Night vision device
Improves visibility by enhancing natural light or active illumination.

Main armament

20 mm M168 cannon
Ammunition2 200 rounds
Belt capacity1 100 rounds
Reloadbasic crew → aces
26.0 → 20.0 s
Fire rate3 000 shots/min
Vertical guidance-5° / 80°
Main article: M168 (20 mm)

The M163 is equipped with a 20 mm M168 VADS, or Vulcan air defence system. The M168 is a variant of the M61 cannon, which can be found in-game on vehicles such as the Japanese T-2, and the American F-4C Phantom II. Used initially during the Vietnam war, the M168 was a 20 mm air-cooled rotary cannon attached to a small turret on the M163. Dangerous to anything in the sky, it will lock on and rip through anything in its path.

20 mm M168 Turret rotation speed (°/s) Reloading rate (seconds)
Mode Capacity (Belt) Fire rate Vertical Horizontal Stabilizer Stock Upgraded Full Expert Aced Stock Full Expert Aced
Arcade 2,200 (1,100) 3,000 -5°/+80° ±180° N/A 66.05 91.41 111.00 122.80 130.59 26.00 23.00 21.20 20.00
Realistic 44.63 52.50 63.75 70.50 75.00


  • Default: AP-I · HEI-T · API-T
  • HEI: HEI-T · HEF-I · API-T · HEF-I
  • AP-I: AP-I · API-T · HEF-I · API-T

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
AP-I 40 36 22 12 6 3
API-T 40 36 22 12 6 3
HEF-I 5 5 3 2 2 2
HEI-T 5 5 3 2 2 2
Shell details
Ammunition Velocity
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
AP-I 1,030 0.1 - - - 47° 56° 65°
API-T 1,030 0.1 - - - 47° 60° 65°
HEF-I 1,030 0.1 0.1 0.1 17.12 - - -
HEI-T 1,030 0.1 0.1 0.1 12 79° 80° 81°

Ammo racks

Ammo racks of the M163
rack empty
rack empty
2 belts (+1) (+2) No


Main article: AN/VPS-2

The M163 is equipped with an AN/VPS-2 tracking radar, with no search radar. The radar is fitted to the side of the turret.

Msg-info.png In order to lock on you must be looking through your sight, position the crosshair over a target (within 7 km) and press the lock on key. The target must be within a 2° cone from the centre of the crosshair. Hold the key until a tracker shows on the plane. When it is in range, a circle will show where to aim for an increased chance of shooting down a plane.
AN/VPS-2 - Tracking Radar
Azimuth Tracking
Elevation Tracking
target speed
7,000 m 100 m 360° -20°/+85°
(lock between -20°/+20°)
15 m/s (54 km/h)

Usage in battles

The M163 is a support vehicle through and through. Boasting an immense fire rate of 3000 rounds per minute from its M168 Vulcan cannon, the M163 is best used as a point-defense SPAA and a tag team support vehicle, able to quickly destroy the barrels and tracks of any vehicle it can cleanly get shots at without retaliation. Against air targets it is even better due to the introduction of the first tracking radar in the US tech tree with the AN/VPS-2. However, the lack of a search radar may make it more difficult to identify threats to you and your team before they have already attacked.

An M163 firing at a FAB-5000, right before the bomb is hit and destroyed.

The high rate of fire also allows the M163 a sort of CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) type of role, as it can easily spray in the direction of an incoming bomb, thus destroying it and saving nearby allies. This is especially easy against the infamous FAB-5000 bomb from the Soviet Pe-8, as the bomb is large and easy to track.

Air engagements.

When facing enemy aircraft, the M163 is amazing at destroying any plane it can effectively get a lock onto with its tracking radar. The radar and fire rate of the vehicle makes it able to fire a hail of bullets at any aircraft or helicopter accurately, usually destroying them in just a quick short burst. The M163 does have a smaller profile than normal tanks, allowing it to stay hidden from the sky much better than more conventional tanks. However, the distinct sound, muzzle flash, and flood of tracers into the sky of the Vulcan cannon will immediately reveal your location and cause any planes and nearby tanks to prioritize the M163 over other targets. Because of this, it is important to only shoot upon enemy aircraft and reveal your presence once they are at a reasonable distance. A good tip is to wait until your tracking radar reads at least 1.5 km or 1 km of distance when shooting aircraft to ensure a kill before they can react and use evasive manoeuvres. Once spotted by multiple air targets, the M163 can have grim times eliminating all threatening aircraft due to its lengthy 23-second reload and paper-thin armour. It is a good idea to make sure you are firing the Vulcan cannon in bursts as tempting as it may be to use it without any break between volleys.

Every plane can easily cut through your armour with their machine guns and cannons before you can react, compounded without the search radar and planes can attack you from unexpected angles to ensure you are not able to retaliate. The M163 is also considered an open top tank; because of this and your lack of armour, bombs and missiles are easily able to destroy you, even after having already destroyed the plane, leading to a lot of engagements ending with both you and your attacker being killed by one another.

At this BR, you will encounter a new threat in helicopters. These vehicles prove to be another hurdle for the M163 to endure and struggle with. Most helicopters have guided missiles that can be launched from outside your effective range and destroy you before you can close the distance or sometimes even spot them. Because of this, you will only be able to destroy these choppers if they come within your effective range. The best tactic against these types of helicopters is to put solid cover between you and the helicopter and focus on other key targets that you can confront, as well as calling out to your friendly aircraft the helicopters' location so you can manoeuvre more effectively once it is destroyed. Some helicopters this tier though do not have any guided missiles, such as the American AH-1G, Japanese UH-1B, Italian AB 205 A-1, and Israeli Tzefa A. These helicopters instead have rocket pods that result in them needing to be much closer to the battlefield to use them effectively. If any of these are actively engaging with your team, you can effortlessly destroy them with your extreme fire rate before they are able to pose a threat.

Tank engagements and ground support.

The Leopard 1's armour against the M163's cannon. Shooting where the crosshair indicates will explode the first-stage ammo stowage. Similar to other lightly armoured medium tanks.

The 20 mm M168 cannon has 40 mm of penetration, which allows it to destroy only the lightest of armour on the battlefield for its battle rating. Many of these targets are light tanks or SPAA vehicles. Some examples of these common threats you will encounter include the German Marder 1A3 and Raketenautomat, the BMP-1 series, and the ZSU-57-2. The Vulcan cannon has no issues in being able to destroy these targets. When it comes to fighting medium tanks, most will not sustain any damage to the crew and ammo inside by your gun. Because of this, it is better to instead incapacitate and cripple them for your team than waste ammunition trying to mortally wound them. There are a few exceptions though that are important to remember as you alone can dispatch and destroy some of the more lightly armoured medium tanks. These include the German Leopard 1, British Vickers Mk.1 and Vickers Mk.3, Italian OF-40, French AMX-30 (1972), and Swedish Strv 103A. The side armour under the tracks have around 30 mm of thickness which is weak enough for your 20 mm cannon to penetrate, so you are more than capable of destroying these vehicles after disabling them or ambushing them.

The M163 has little to no armour for its battle rating, as everything can easily destroy you before you can do any meaningful damage in a head-to-head fight. This is most apparent when encountering USSR tanks as all of their conventional tanks have a top mounted 12.7 mm DShK machine gun that is easily capable of taking you out alone. The extra front plate on the front of the M163 may catch a few rounds from these machine guns as some angles, but this is hardly reliable in making yourself immune from them.

One tactic you can use to remarkable success is to pair up or follow a Breakthrough tank. These include common tanks you will see such as the Conqueror, M103, and IS-6. As a support vehicle, the M163 is perfect for protecting these common bombing targets from enemy jets and helicopters. When paired with these tanks, the M163 should play more reserve, letting them peek corners and exposing their more reliable and heavy armour to the enemy before engaging yourself. Once they have bounced or absorbed a shot, the M163 can peek at the enemy and disable any exposed barrels and tracks for your teammate while they reload. This is useful for these breakthrough tanks too, due to most having up to 20 seconds of reload before they are able to fire another round, much longer if they also lose their loader to the attacker. When performing this tag team tactic, it is imperative to know your enemy. Autoloading tanks can quickly reload and dispatch you once you reveal yourself to them before you are able to safely disable them. Stronger machine guns such as 12.7 mm M2HB and DShK can also quickly and easily kill you while their main gun is reloading. Because of this, when actively disabling targets, the priority should always be disarming any harmful machine guns that can destroy you before making the decision to destroy the track or barrel depending on the situation.

Pros and cons


  • Quick acceleration
  • Good traverse, especially when fully upgraded
  • Very high rate of fire of 3,000 rpm; can literally shred incoming enemy aircraft, AP rounds are dangerous against lightly-armoured vehicles
  • Has a tracking radar
  • Can double as a CIWS (close-in weapon system): it can shred bombs, rockets and incoming missiles as a last resort defence


  • Very thin overall armour
  • The M113 has low top speed and low power-to-weight ratio
  • Struggles when climbing hills until performance modules are equipped
  • Long reload time
  • No search radar, meaning one must visually find enemy aircraft to lock on to
  • Effective range is limited for a radar SPAA


The M163 VADS (Vulcan Air Defense System) was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG) based on the chassis of the M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC). It was nearly unmodified from the base M113, and featured the same armour scheme, rear loading ramp, and the General Motors 6V53 series 6-cylinder 2-cycle diesel engine (212 hp). An open-topped turret was fitted to the center of the roof of the vehicle, and an M61 Vulcan 20 mm rotary cannon was mounted in the turret. The gun could fire at 3,000 rpm or 1,000 rpm, and the elevation was from -5° to +80°. The M163 was operated by a crew of four, and there was a wide variety of ammunition for the main gun. A tracking radar was fitted to the turret to improve the chances of destroying an enemy aircraft, but the anti-aircraft ability of the M163 was limited and it was only useful against low-flying aircraft within 5 km, and the chances of destroying the aircraft were best within 1 km.

The M163 entered service with the United States Army in 1969, but at least six vehicles were sent to the Vietnam War before the type had entered service. The vehicles sent to South Vietnam were not fitted with the tracking radar, and they were used mostly in an infantry support role. The M163 was later upgraded to the M163A1 and A2 standards. The M163A1 had an improved gun mount, and the M163A2 featured the improved M113A2 powerplant. The M163 PIVADS (Product Improved Vulcan Air Defense System) upgrade was introduced in 1984. The PIVADS upgrade featured improved radar and accuracy of the gun, and it also introduced armour-piercing capabilities with an APDS round. Over time, the M163 began to be used more in an infantry support role, as surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems became more common. It notably served during the First Gulf War. The M163 was retired from US Army service in 1993.

The M163 was also used by a number of other nations. These include Albania, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Portugal, South Korea, Thailand, and Tunisia. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) upgraded a number of M163 vehicles with a launcher for 4 x FIM-92 Stinger SAMs, and these were called the Machbet. The IDF also upgraded their vehicles with improved electronics. The M163 is still in service with a number of the nations listed above.



See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the vehicles;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links



USA anti-aircraft vehicles
M3 Half-track derivatives  M13 MGMC · M15 CGMC · M16 MGMC
M24 derivative  M19A1
M41 derivative  M42
Radar SPAAG  M163 · M247
Missile SPAA  Imp.Chaparral · LAV-AD · XM975