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M2 Bradley armored fighting vehicle

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Designed for close tank-infantry cooperation with M1 Abrams tanks, the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and the closely related M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV) provide the infantry side of the team. While they may look superficially like tanks, they are not light tanks. They are the successor to the M113 (armored personnel carrier), but are different: the M113 was a "battle taxi" intending to take troops to the edge of the battlefield, while the M2/M3 go onto the battlefield. Soldiers have options to fight from the Bradley, or to dismount and fight on foot.

The vehicle has been in service since 1981, and the earlier models now need mechanical rebuilding, as well as electronics and other combat systems.

There are several additional variants; collectively, a vehicle in the series may be called an M*An: the M2A3 is the latest IFV version, while the M3A3 is the CFV equivalent, There is also an upgrade series called M*2-ODS, which have different upgrades from the A3, although providing comparable function.[1] The Army plans coexistence of the ODS and A3 versions, building fire direction variants on the same platform as the IFVs and CFVs they accompany in combat. [2] ODS will be phased out, in current plans, by 2025. [3]

The ODS, and ODS-E for Engineer use, reflect operational experience from the Gulf War, and essentially are an interim level between the A2 and A3. [4] Some ODS versions may be upgraded to A3, while others, especially variants, may be adequate with the ODS kit. ODS features include an eye-safe laser rangefinder, a Tactical Navigation System comprised of a GPS unit and a digital compass, and countermeasures against first-generation, wire-guided anti-tank missiles. It provides the driver with a thermal imaging viewer. Depending on the model, there are improvements in personnel and equipment facilities, ranging from imrpoved seating, to a ration heater, electric lift at the engine-access door, and external storage for personal effects. Ammunition storage for the main gun has been improved.

Command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance

Both the ODS and the A3 carry the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, as well as the tactical navigation system. These give them a moving map display on which they can see friendly forces and their troops. For communications, they have the SINCGARS radio.

A3 models are fully digitized with an internal MIL-STD-1553 bus. They also have what is termed the Improved Bradley Acquisition System (IBAS), the most obvious feature of which is that there are independent, second-generation thermal viewers to the driver and commander. IBAS, however, is more than that. It integrates the more advanced FLIR with daylight television and direct view optics. Any of these can be used to guide the TOW missile; with the earlier FLIR, the missile range was greater than the range of its night sight. [5] The IBAS vision system is common to the M1A2 tank and the the long-range advanced scout surveillance system (LRAS3) on the HMMWV-based M1025 scout vehicle.

IBAS can transmit imagery outside the Bradley, to recipients from squad leader to high command. Inside the vehicle, it moves over the MIL-STD-1553 bus, and potentially to any communications device that interfaces to that bus. The initial external communcations link is the SINCGARS radio.

Variants

Infantry and Cavalry Vehicles

Troops can maneuver beside the Bradley, using it as a shield while it engages nearby targets with its 25mm, or with the 7.62mm machine gun mounted coaxially with the autocannon. Its heavy weapon, however, is the BGM-71 TOW, a heavy antitank missile as or more lethal than the 120mm gun on the Abrams. The TOW was originally intended to have a longer range than the Abrams gun, but the gun performance has been improving. The idea, however, was to have TOW units "overwatch" tank-infantry teams moving across a battlefield, letting them concentrate on close-in threats while the overwatching missiles guarded against distant threats. Once the maneuver force reached its objective, it would then protect the movement of the overwatch force moving to meet it.

The M2 has space for 7 infantrymen, while the M3 seats two, but carries extra missiles, ammunition, and surveillance equipment.

Bradley weapons are intended to support infantry soldiers or cavalry scouts on foot. In their turret is a M242 Bushmaster 25mm autocannon designed to defeat light armor, but proved quite capable of killing tanks of the Russian T-54/T-55/Chinese Type 59/69 and T-62 classes. There are conflicting reports if a Bradley killed a Russian T-72; if it did so, it hit on the thinner side, rear, or top armor. Fundamentally, however, the 25mm gun was intended to be used against personnel and light armored vehicles, such as the Russian BMP (infantry fighting vehicle) and BRDM (armored reconnaissance vehicle).

In practice, the closely cooperating units are not only M1, M2, and M3 vehicles, but also OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout/attack helicopters and AH-64 Apache heavy attack helicopters. They may also use unmanned aerial vehicles.

Scout vehicles attached to the Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron (Brigade Combat Team) will have the Long-Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3) observation and targetinc systems. The surveillance troop of the Squadron can support them with UAVs.

Artillery direction

Bradley-based artillery forward observer vehicles will be of two coexisting types, the M7 and A3 BFIST.[2] Both replace the obsolescent, [M113]-based M981 Fire Support Vehicle at the maneuver company level. M7s are on the A2-ODS variant platform, and will operate alongside M2 and M3 fighting vehicles of the ODS level. A3 BFIST will operate with fighting vehicles of the ODS level.

A3 BFIST vehicles embed much of the fire support electronics into the all-digital A3 system, while the M7 BFIST uses an add-on fire support Mission Equipment Package (MEP).

A series of variants carry a forward observer team to guide artillery. Earlier versions had good optics and radio to call fire, but the newer versions are fully networked with the . Used in the Iraq War, the M7 BFIST (Bradley FIre Support Team) is a variant of the M2A2-ODS Bradley. It is used as an artillery forward observer vehicle and laser designator, providing major improvements in first-round artillery accuracy, principally for the M109A6 self-propelled howitzers that move with the forces, but well behind the lead vehicle.

The M7’s successor is the Bradley A3 FIST or A3 BFIST, and incorporates all Bradley M*A3 features in addition to its fire direction systems.

Command vehicle

The M4 Command and Control Vehicle (C2V) has had a turbulent time in U.S. Army budgets. In 1999, a planned purchase of over 400 was cancelled. Approximately 25, however, had already been built, and were in storage by the manufacturer, now called BaE Systems Ground Systems. Jane's Defence Weekly first heard that the Norwegian Army wanted to buy them, but, in mid-2002 during the buildup for the Iraq War, the U.S. Army asked for them. Eventually, 15 went into combat with the rest kept as spares: 3 at V Corps level, 9 among three divisions, and two to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is a traditional name for a strong brigade. The rest were kept as spares. [6]

It replaces the earlier M551 command post vehicle, which had very limited capabilities to command while moving, and was less survivable. The M4 has workspace for 4 staff officers, and has a wireless local area network that interconnects bth the staff within the C2V and among the multiple C2Vs in a headquarters; the interconnection will continue to work while the vehicles are on the move. Each staff workstation can run Army Battle Command System (ABCS) software, such as the Battle Command and Sustainment Support System for a logistics function and the All Source Analysis System for intelligence. The staff positions also have the appropriate radios and intercoms.

Engineer carrier

As part of the restructuring of the United States Army, the basic company of combat engineers is being changed from a primarily M113-based structure to a Bradley-based structure. [7] The engineer company, for example, is tying into both tactical (i.e., FBCB2) and higher command level (i.e., Maneuver Control System. FBC2B is on all vehicles, while MCS is at the command post.

This plan, as well as the Bradleys, included the XM104 Wolverine and Grizzly breaching vehicle, which were defunded in 2001. The Bradley command vehicle, however, has has funds restored, in more moderate quantities — if the operational needs exist, these other vehicles exist. The Grizzly is a modified Abrams tank, with a dozer blade and a powered arm for loading or moving.[8]

To carry combat engineers onto the battlefield, there is the engineer squad vehicle (EBFV, or M2A2-ODS-E). It replaces the Engineer variant of the M113, gaining survivability and firepower, but losing the ability to tow a trailer.

One important issue being addressed is that the principal mine-clearing device, the M58 mine clearing line charge (MICLIC). In Army use, this is normally towed by a M113 engineer vehicle or a AVLB bridge launcher; the latter is a major field modification. Even if it were chosen to attack an M113 just to handle the MICLIC, the difference in speed, maneuverability and protection of the M113 would be a mismatch to Bradley units. The problem is not solved, and the Marines have a different set of requirements. The Grizzly can carry out deep demining that MICLIC cannot, so both may actually be needed.

Air defense

Comparable to the HMMWV-based Avenger vehicles that carry FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, the M6 Linebacker variant was the mobile air defense vehicle for armored formations. They have been converted into M2A2-ODS vehicles.

General information

  • Length: 21 ft 2 in[9]
  • Width: 11.83 ft with armor tiles; 10.75 ft without armor tiles
  • Height: 11.8 ft
  • Weight: 50,000 lbs unloaded; 67,000 lbs combat loaded
  • Power Train: 600 hp Cummins VTA-903T diesel engine with GM-Allison HMPT-500-3SEC hydro-mechanical automatic transmission
  • Cruising Range: 250 miles
  • Crew: M2A3: 9 (3 crew; 6-7 dismounts); M3A3: 5 (3 crew; 2 dismounts)
  • Armament: 25-mm M242 Bushmaster cannon, TOW II missile system, 7.62 mm M240C machine gun

References

  1. The US Army’s Bradley Remanufacture Program, 23-Sep-2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Department of the Army, Procurement Programs, FY 2008 Grow The Army Detail, Weapons and Tracked Combat Vehicles, Army, WTCV, pp. 3-8
  3. Fahey, Kevin (30 October 2007), Presentation of Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, p. 5
  4. Cooke, Gary W., "M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle", Gary's Combat Vehicle Reference Guide
  5. Hall, Joe (September 1, 2000), "Bradley Fighting Vehicle Getting New Eyes", National Defense
  6. "M4 Command and Control Vehicle (C2V) (United States)", Jane's C4I, December 11, 2007
  7. Kirk, Jason & Jeffrey A. Bedey (May, 2001), "Transitioning to the Bradley", Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
  8. The Dupuy Institute (23 August 2000)
  9. U.S. Army factsheet, Bradley