Vickers-Chrysler M-23 Highlander Rapid Deployment Force/Light Tank

ROBOTECH Technical Files

by Robert Morgenstern, with Peter Walker and Pieter Thomassen

edited by Tim Wing


Designation: Vickers-Chrysler Robotech Systems Inc. M-23 Highlander Rapid Deployment Force/Light Tank

I. Dimensions.

  • Length: 5.4 meters
  • Width: 3.3 meters
  • Height: 2.5 meters
  • Weight: 19 metric tons (Level I Armor), 23.25 metric tons (Level II Armor), 28 metric tons (Level III Armor)

II. Type.

  • Air-droppable armored light battle tank
  • 3 Crew: driver, gunner, commander

III. Service History

  • M-23: Served with the UEDF Tactical Corps from 2022 until the Invid Invasion.

IV. Propulsion.

  • Engine: 2 Siemens electric motors providing 340 hp each
  • Power-source: Cummins VTA-2005 10-cylinder diesel driving a generator
  • Fuel Capacity: 1000 liter diesel or JP8 fuel.

V. Performance.

  • Power-Weight Ratio: 35 hp / ton (Level I Armor), 24 hp / ton (Level III Armor)
  • Maximum road speed: 120 kph
  • Maximum cross-country speed: 70 kph
  • Maximum range: 550 km
  • Fording depth: 1.5 m
  • Fording depth with snorkel: 4 m

VI. Electronics Suite.

Optical tracking:

  • Philips AllView I multi-band motion-stabilized digital spherical camera system, for medium range 360 degree infra-red imaging, optical and ultra-violet band detection and tracking.
  • Thomson LT-4 multi-frequency laser ranger and designator.

Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS):

  • OlDelft Infra-red Warning Receiver (IRWR)
  • Selenia Gladiator active/passive sensor jammers.

VII. Armament.

  • 1 x OTO Melara 76mm liquid-propelled motion-stabilized high velocity rifled cannon firing Armor Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFDS) rounds and various other ammunition types. Feed is automatic via an autoloader, firing at a sustained rate of 30 rounds/minute, faster for short periods. The turret stores up to 60 rounds without resupply. Enough liquid propellant is carried for a full load, at direct-fire velocities.
  • 2 x Stinger II surface-to-air missile for air defense located on the right side the main turret under the smoke discharger.
  • 1 x coaxially-mounted 7.62mm machinegun in the main turret. The machinegun has an ammunition capacity for 2000 rounds.
  • 1 x 12.7mm machinegun in the commander’s cupola turret. The machinegun has an ammunition capacity for 500 rounds.
  • 2 x 12 Smoke dischargers capable of firing a smoke grenade up to 50m mounted on the sides of the main turret.

VIII. Armor.

The body of the M-23 tank is composed of welded space-metal alloys. The armor stops all small arms, and heavy infantry weapons fire, provides fair to good resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry such as Zentraedi 22.3mm autocannon, and provides poor resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round.

The frontal turret and hull armor the M-23 is composed of a standard Chobam laminar developed in the late 20th century and improved with the materials science advances made during the Robotech era. This armor was mainly designed to defeat projectiles and other kinetic weapons. The armor stops all light mecha-mounted weaponry, and good resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round and poor resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry such as the VHT-1’s 105mm Cannon.

The Level III armor package adds a mixture of Chobham and Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) to the front and sides of the M-23’s turret and hull. The armor stops all small arms, heavy infantry weapons fire, and light mecha-mounted weaponry, and provides excellent resistance to medium mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Valkyrie’s 55mm APFSDS round, and fair resistance to heavy mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the VHT-1’s 105mm Cannon.

The M-23 Highlander provides full protection from nuclear, biological, and chemical hazards, using an overpressure cockpit environment activated by radiation and hazardous chemical sensors, or manually when biological warfare conditions are anticipated. The internal consumables supplies can provide atmosphere for one week maximum.

IX. Development.

The M-23 Highlander Rapid Deployment Force/Light Tank was designed to be an air droppable light battle tank for use by the United Earth Defense Force’s (UEDF’s) quick reaction forces. At 3.3 meters wide, the M-23 could fit within the narrow confines of a C-14 (the UEDF’s primary light military transport). With this level of transportability, the M-23 could be delivered to any location with a short un-improved airstrip. The M-23 also had modular armor, ranging in levels from I to III. In Level I armor configuration, the M-23 was (just) airborne deployable.

Vickers-Chrysler Robotech Systems Inc. partnered with Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) to develop the M-23. The drive system was taken directly from FMC’s M2200 Janissary series of Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Though the original prototypes also used the same Christie suspension as the M2200, the final production M-23 used a Vickers-Chrysler design supported suspension with four large road wheels and three support rollers. This tank managed to significantly reduce its weight by using the advances in materials technology to significantly improve its field maneuverability over previous generation tanks.

The M-23’s main gun was a high velocity rifled cannon based on OTO Melara’s successful series of 76mm naval guns. This small diameter high-velocity gun, while not as powerful as a 120mm main gun found on contemporary main battle tanks, was adequate for penetrating the armor of Zentraedi Battle Pods and the frontal armor of the then current T-92 and T-95 series of Soviet medium battle tanks.

The M-23 Highlander was used primarily by the Tactical Corps’ Airborne Divisions, though it also saw use by the Desert Division. M-23 saw service during the Palestine Conflict, where they aquitted themselves well against Soviet Battloids and older tanks, but found themselves severely outclassed by the newer T-20 and its Gauss Cannon main armament. Though the M-23 was never intentionally deployed against the Robotech Masters during the Second Robotech War, those that did see action were at a disadvantage when fighting the fast and well-armed Bioroids. During the Invid invasion, the remainder of these vehicles still operating were brought to the front lines to replace the decimated ranks of the Battloids and were mostly destroyed.



Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (R) is the property of Big West Advertising, Tatsunoko Studio and Ammonite studio. Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (R) is the property of Fuji Television, Artmic Studio and Tatsunoko Production. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.

Original artwork by: Yoshitaka Amano, Shinji Aramaki and Hideki Kakinuma

Acknowledgement is extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized in this publication.

Images from – Robotech original TV series

Content by Robert Morgenstern, Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen, edited by Tim Wing

Copyright © 1997 Robert Morgenstern, Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen; 2016 Tim Wing



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