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M2 Bradley
Bradley in the Gulf War
Type Infantry fighting vehicle/Armored Personnel Carrier
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1981-present
Used by See Operators
Weight 27.6  tonnes (30.4  short tons)
Length 6.55 m
Width 3.6 m
Height 2.98 m
Crew 3 + 6 (7 in M2A2 ODS/M2A3)

Armor Spaced laminate armor. Front Armor protects against 25 mm APDS from classified distance. Hull base is Aluminum 7017[1] Explosive Reactive Armor.
25 mm M242 Chain Gun
900 rounds
TOW Anti-Tank Missile
7 TOW Missiles
7.62 mm M240C machine gun
2,200 rounds
Engine Cummins VTA-903T 8-cylinder diesel
600 hp (447 kW)
Power/weight 19.74 hp/tonne
Suspension torsion bar
483 km or 300 mi
Speed 66 km/h or 41mph

The M2 Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and M3 Bradley CFV (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle) are American infantry fighting vehicles manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, formerly United Defense.

As with other infantry fighting vehicles, the Bradley is designed to transport infantry with armor protection while providing covering fire to suppress enemy troops and armored vehicles. The M2 holds a crew of three: a commander, a gunner and a driver; as well as six fully equipped soldiers. The M3 mainly conducts scout missions and carries two scouts in addition to the regular crew of three.



The Bradley IFV was developed largely in response to the Soviet BMP family of infantry fighting vehicles, and to serve as both an APC, and a tank-killer. One specific design requirement was that it should be as fast as the then new M1 Abrams main battle tank so that they could maintain formations while moving, something which the older M113 Armored Personnel Carrier could not do, as it had been designed to complement the older M60 Patton.



Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment load into the rear of an M3A2 ODS in Iraq.

The M2/M3's primary armament is a 25 mm cannon fires up to 200 rounds per minute and is accurate up to 2500 m depending on the ammunition used. It is also armed with twin missiles which are capable of destroying most tanks out to a maximum range of 3750 m. However, the missles can only be fired while the vehicle is stationary. The Bradley also carries a coaxial 7.62 mm medium machine gun, located to the right of the 25 mm chain gun.


The Bradley is equipped with the M242 25 mm chain gun as its main weapon. The M242 has a single barrel with an integrated dual-feed mechanism and remote feed selection.[2] The gun contains ammunition in two ready boxes of 70 rounds and 230 rounds each for a total of 300 ready rounds and carries 600 rounds in storage (in the M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle variant) or 1200 stowed rounds (in the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle variant). The two ready boxes allow selectable mix of rounds such as the M791 APDS-T (Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot (with) Tracer), and M792 HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary (with) Tracer) rounds. The tungsten APDS-T rounds proved highly effective in Desert Storm being capable of knocking out many Iraqi vehicles including several kills on T-55 tanks. There have even been reports of kills against Iraqi T-72 tanks at close range.[citation needed] Subsequent ammunition developments resulted in the M919 APFSDS-T (Armor-Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot with Tracer) round, which contains a finned depleted uranium penetrator similar in concept to armor piercing munitions used in modern tanks. The M919 was used in combat during the 2003 invasion phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).


It is also armed with a M240C machine gun mounted coaxially to the M242, with 2,200 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. For engaging heavier targets (such as when acting in an anti-tank fashion), the Bradley has a TOW missile system onboard, which was changed to fire TOW II missiles, onwards from the M2A1 model. M2 infantry Bradleys also have turreted firing ports for a number of M231 Firing Port Weapons or FPWs, providing a button-up firing position to replace the top-side gunners on the old ACAV, though the M231 is rarely employed. Initial variants carried six total, but the side ports were plated over with new armor used on the A2 and A3 variants, leaving only the two rear-facing mounts in the loading ramp. No versions of the M3 CFV carry firing port weapons, though early versions had all six firing port mounts fitted and plated over, while newer versions retain the two ramp mounted firing ports (again, plated over).


The use of Aluminum armor and the storage of large quantities of ammunition in the vehicle initially raised questions about its combat survivability. Spaced laminate belts and high hardness steel skirts have been added to later versions to improve armor protection, although this increases overall weight to 33 tons. However actual combat operations have not shown the Bradley to be overtly deficient as losses have been few. In friendly fire incidents in Desert Storm, many crew members survived hits that resulted in total losses for lighter USMC LAV-25 vehicles.

Prior to production USAF LTC James Burton conducted highly publicized[citation needed] live fire tests where it was found that the center of the vehicle was most likely to be hit. His efforts to redesign the Bradley were not fully implemented; Bradleys still store their fuel dangerously in the vehicle center, whereas M113A3s have their fuel stored on the left and right rear to prevent fires/explosions inside the troop compartment. Despite this perceived vulnerability, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle has proven to be highly survivable when hit by enemy fire.

All versions are also equipped with two four-barreled smoke grenade launchers on the front of the turret for creating defensive smoke screens, and can also be loaded with chaff and flares.


The Black Knight unmanned vehicle will be piloted in the M3 Bradley via the BCT Common Controller.


The Bradley series has been widely modified. Its chassis is the basis for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, the M4 C2V battlefield command post, and the M6 Bradley Linebacker air defense vehicle. Armed with a quad Stinger surface to air missile launcher in place of the TOW anti-tank missiles and maintaining the 25 mm autocannon, the M6 Bradley Linebacker Air Defense Vehicle (no longer in service) possessed a unique role in the U.S. Army, providing highly mobile air defense at the front line. Its suspension system has also been used on upgraded versions of the US Marines' Amphibious Assault Vehicle.

The total cost of the program is $5,664,100,000, and the average unit costs $3,166,000.[3]


The Bradley is highly capable in cross-country open terrain, in accordance with one of the main design objectives of keeping pace with the M1 Abrams main battle tank. Whereas the M113 would float without much preparation, the Bradley was initially designed to float by deploying a flotation curtain around the vehicle. This caused some drownings due to failures during its first trials. Armor upgrades have negated this capability.



One of the early issues that drove the development of the IFV was the need to have a vehicle which could serve in a high-intensity conflict in Europe which was feared might include the use of NBC weapons. To work in such an environment an IFV would have to have a life-support system that protected from outside contaminants while allowing the soldiers to fight from inside the vehicle. The earliest specification, from 1958, called for a vehicle of no more than 8 tons, mounting a turret with a 20 mm autocannon and a 7.62 mm machine gun, with sealed firing ports for 5 infantry gunners.[4]

The first U.S. Army IFV design was the XM734, a modified version of the M113. A commander's cupola and passenger firing ports were added. The second design was the XM765 Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, based on the M113A1 chassis. The upper sides of the vehicle were sloped & spaced steel armor plates were added to improve protection. In addition, firing ports for the passengers were added and a M139 20 mm cannon was added to the commander's cupola.[4]

In 1963 the U.S. and West German governments began work on the MBT-70 design and an IFV companion project was the Mechanized Infantry combat Vehicle (MICV-70).[4] The contract was handed to the Pacific Car & Foundry Company which delivered the XM701 prototype in 1965. The prototypes had the following characteristics: weight of 25-27 tons (depending on an aluminum or steel hull); 425 HP diesel engine; a 2-man turret with a 20 mm gun & 7.62 mm MG; crew of 3 plus 9 infantry equipped with firing ports; a built-in toilet; armor proof against Soviet 14.5 mm MG fire beyond a certain range; a collective and overpressure CBR system; amphibious.[4] The filtration system provided a shirt-sleeve environment until the passengers dismounted, after that they could not re-pressurize without fear of contamination, but they could plug their suits into the vehicle's filtration system. The vehicle was 9 ft high, 20 ft long, and 10 ft wide. After testing the vehicle was criticized for poor mobility and excessive weight and size (it could not be carried aboard a C-130 or a C-141 Starlifter). New specifications were written in 1965.

In 1967 the public display of the BMP-1 caused additional interest in the MICV-70 program which concluded its studies in 1968. However, continued disagreements on specifications continued to slow down development.[4]

At this time the Army looked at two alternate vehicles which could be fielded more quickly. The FMC company had developed an IFV version of the M113 which had a 1-man turret mounting a 25 mm gun, a sealed environment, and firing ports. The vehicle weight was 15 tons. The U.S. Army rejected it due to limited mobility which would prevent it from keeping pace with the proposed MBT-70. However, the design was purchased by the Dutch and Belgian governments.[4] The other alternate vehicle was the West German Marder which mounted a 20 mm autocannon, two 7.62 mm MGs, relatively strong steel armor, and full CBR protection. The U.S. Army rejected it due to it not being amphibious, too large and heavy for air transport, and too expensive.[4]

XM723 prototype in 1977

The MICV program continued on and in 1972 a new request for proposals was issued which was won by FMC and they began construction of the XM723 prototype which was completed in 1973. The XM723 weighed 21 tons, had spaced aluminum armor proof against 14.5 mm fire, had a crew of 3 plus 8 infantry, firing ports for the infantry, and a 1-man turret with a 20 mm gun. The commander sat inside the hull. In order to adapt the XM723 to be usable in a recon role as well as an IFV, in 1976 the turret was replaced with a 2-man turret mounting the 25 mm Bushmaster cannon and TOW missiles (this was the MICV TBAT-II design). Making it a 2-man turret meant that the commander would be up in the turret thus having a better view of the battlefield. The TOW missiles would give the vehicle a strong anti-armor capability. The value of anti-tank missiles had been well established in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. There was an added political advantage in that the TOW missiles made it an easier sell to Congress as it was a whole new capability not possessed by the M113.[4]

"We in TRADOC...decided to put the TOW on the MICV because we realized that if we did not put the TOW on the MICV, we would probably never have a MICV." –General Don Starry, Army magazine, 1987.

In 1977 the MICV TABA-II was renamed to XM2. The scout version became the XM3. The U.S. Congress was questioning the development of the XM2 due to the high losses incurred by BMP-1s in the 1973 war and suggested the development of a more heavily armored vehicle. The Army argued against this due to concerns about cost, weight, and development time.

"Almost every army you look at is ahead of the American Army, as far as taking care of our infantry. The Russians, are ahead of us, the German, are ahead of us, the Dutch are ahead of us, the French are ahead of us, the Yugoslavians are ahead of us. Almost everybody has a better infantry vehicle than the U.S. Army.

"We would have been better off in 1963 when we started to just build the MICV immediately. Are we to start over again? My guess is that if you start over again, you will have a 10 percent increase in effectiveness and 50 percent increase in cost." –General William E. DePuy, testimony to Congress, 1977.

In 1977 Congress ordered two new evaluations of the IFV program, one by the GAO and one by the Department of the Army, under General Pat Crizer. The GAO report was critical of the XM2's height, mobility, complexity, lack of clear doctrinal use, and lack of CBR protection. Based upon this criticism the OMB deleted M2/3 funding from the FY 79 budget.[5] In 1978 the Crizer report asserted that the basic design was consistent with doctrine and development of a IFV with superior characteristics would be costly and pose significant developmental risks,[5] An additional study, the IFV/CFV Special Study Group, evaluated whether an improved version of the M113 could be used instead of the M2/3 IFV. Their conclusion was that extensive redesign would be necessary for even marginal improvements in M113 derivatives.[5] In October 1978 Congress reauthorized procurement funds.

The XM2/3 passed the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council Milestone II review in 1979 and final approval for production came from the Secretary of Defense on 1 February 1980.

Production history

The Bradley, named after WWII General Omar Bradley, consists of two types of vehicles, the M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle. The M3 CFV was originally planned to be named after General Jacob L. Devers,[5] but it was decided the Bradley name would apply to both, since both vehicles are based on the same chassis (they differ in only some details). The M2 carries a crew of three and a six-man infantry squad. The M3 carries the crew of three and a two-man scout team and additional radios, TOW and Dragon or Javelin missiles.

Since entering service with the U.S. Army in 1981, a total of 6,724 Bradleys (4,641 M2s and 2,083 M3s) have been produced.

Even after the troubled development history of the Bradley[6] additional problems occurred after production started as described in a book by Air Force Lt. Col. James Burton,[7] which was adapted for the 1998 film The Pentagon Wars starring Kelsey Grammer and Cary Elwes. Lt. Col. Burton advocated the use of comprehensive live fire tests to be used against fully loaded military vehicles to check for survivability. The Army & Navy agreed and established the Joint Live fire testing program in 1984.[5] When testing the Bradley, however, disagreements occurred between Burton and the Aberdeen Proving Ground's Ballistic Research Laboratory which preferred smaller, more controlled, "building block" tests which could be used to improve the databases used to model vehicle survivability as opposed to full up tests with random shots which reduce the possibility of bias but produced little useful statistical data.[5] In addition Burton insisted upon a series of "overmatch" tests in which weapon systems would be fired at the Bradley that were known to be able to easily penetrate it's armor. Burton saw attempts to avoid such tests as dishonest while the BRL saw them as wasteful as they already knew the vehicle would fail.[5] The disagreements became so contentious that Congressional inquiry resulted. As a result of the tests additional improvements to vehicle survivability were added.

Combat history

Bradley IFV burns after being hit by 125 mm Iraqi tank fire during the Battle of 73 Easting.

During the Gulf War, M2 Bradleys destroyed more Iraqi armored vehicles than the M1 Abrams.[8] Twenty Bradleys were lost — three by enemy fire and 17 due to friendly fire incidents; another 12 were damaged. The gunner of one Bradley was killed when his vehicle was hit by Iraqi fire, possibly from an Iraqi BMP-1, during the Battle of 73 Easting.[9] To remedy some problems that were identified as contributing factors in the friendly fire incidents, infrared identification panels and other marking/identification measures were added to the Bradleys.

In the Iraq War, the Bradley has proved somewhat vulnerable to Improvised explosive device (IED) and Rocket propelled grenade (RPG) attacks, but casualties have been light — the doctrine being to allow the crew to escape at the expense of the vehicle. As of early 2006, total combat losses included 55 Bradleys.[10]


It is the U.S Army's intention that the BCT Ground Combat Vehicle Program replace the M2 Bradley and M113 with the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle by 2018. The M3 Bradley could later be replaced with future variants of the GCV.[11][12]



M2A0 Bradley configured for swimming, 1983.

The M2 (also sometimes written M2A0 to help prevent confusion) was the basic production model, first produced in 1982. The M2A0 can be identified by its standard TOW missile system and 500 horsepower (370 kW) engine with HMPT-500 Hydromechanical transmission. Basic features also included an integrated sight unit for the M242 25 mm, and thermal imaging system. The M2A0 was amphibious with the use of a "Swim Barrier" or "Floatation Screen" and was C-141 and C-5 transportable. All M2A0 vehicles have been upgraded to improved standards. The A0 series armor protects the vehicle through a full 360 degrees against 14.5 mm API rounds.

M2A0s and other early production models of the M2 include seating for a total of seven dismounted infantrymen in the rear of the vehicle, in lieu of the six carried in later versions of the vehicle. Seating was adjusted on later models to make dismounting easier and because changes in doctrine and additional armor plating on the sides of the vehicle had made use of firing port weapons irrelevant.


Introduced in 1986, the A1 variant included an improved TOW II missile system, a Gas Particulate Filter Units (GPFU) NBC system, and a fire-suppression system. By 1992, the M2A1s had begun being remanufactured to upgraded standards.

U.S. Army soldiers head out on a mission in their M2A2, seen here fitted with explosive reactive armor boxes


Introduced in 1988, the A2 received an improved 600-horsepower (447 kW) engine with an HMPT-500-3 Hydromechanical transmission and improved armor (both passive and the ability to mount explosive reactive armor). The new armor protects the Bradley against 30 mm APDS rounds and RPGs (or similar anti-armor weapons). Ammunition storage was reorganized and spall liners were added. The M2A2 was qualified to be transported by the C-17 Globemaster III. M2A2s will all eventually be modified to M2A2 ODS or M2A3 standard.


The "Operation Desert Storm" and "Operation Desert Storm-Engineer" improvements were based on lessons learned during the first Gulf War in 1991. The major improvements included an eye-safe laser rangefinder (ELRF), a tactical navigation system (TACNAV) incorporating the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) and the Digital Compass Systems (DCS), a missile countermeasure device designed to defeat first-generation wire-guided missiles, and the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) Battlefield Command Information System. The internal stowage was further improved and a thermal imaging system was added for the driver. The seating in the rear of the vehicle was changed to a bench configuration (in place of the old single seat arrangement that greatly increased dismount time) to allow three dismounts to sit on either side (for a total of six). Lastly, an MRE ('Meal, Ready-to-Eat') heater was added to the vehicle to assist in the preparation of food while in the field or warzone.


M2A3 Bradley operating near Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004. The main recognition feature of the M2/M3A3 is the Commander's Independent Viewer (CIV), at the right rear of the turret.

Introduced in 2000, the A3 upgrades make the Bradley IFV/CFV totally digital and upgrade or improve existing electronics systems throughout improving target acquisition and fire control, navigation, and situational awareness. Also, the survivability of the vehicle is upgraded with a series of armor improvements, again both passive and reactive, as well as improved fire-suppression systems and NBC equipment.[13]

The A3 Bradley incorporates the Improved Bradley Acquisition Subsystem (IBAS) and the Commander’s Independent Viewer (CIV). Both include a second-generation FLIR and an electro-optical/TV imaging system, and the IBAS also has direct-view optics (DVO) and the eye-safe laser rangefinder (ELRF).[14] The CIV allows the commander to scan for targets and maintain situational awareness while remaining under armor and without interfering with the gunner’s acquisition and engagement of targets.[15]

The A3’s fire control software (FCSW) combines laser range, environmental readings, ammunition type, and turret control inputs to automatically elevate the gun for range and to automatically generate a kinematic lead solution if a target is moving.[14] This functionality, very similar to that of the M1A2 Abrams, allows the gunner or commander to center the reticule on a moving target, lase the target, and achieve a first-round-hit, without the need to fire sensing rounds and adjust aim.[15][4] The FCSW incorporates a thermal aided target tracker (ATT) function that can track two targets in the FLIR field of view and switch between them, primarily intended for employing TOW missiles against moving vehicles.[4] The FCSW also allows the turret and gunner’s sights to be slewed automatically onto a target that has been designated with the CIV.[15]

The A3 Bradley uses a position-navigation subsystem that incorporates a GPS, an inertial navigation unit (INU), and a vehicle motion sensor (MVS),[14] which, in addition to allowing accurate own-vehicle navigation, allows accurate position reporting and handoff of designated targets to other units via FBCB2.[4]

The Commander’s Tactical Display (CTD) presents information from FBCB2 and the vehicle navigation systems on a moving-map display, allows the commander to communicate via text over FBCB2, and allows him to check vehicle built-in test (BIT) information and access various other information.[4] The Squad Leader’s Display (SLD) in the infantry compartment improves the situational awareness of the passengers by allowing them to view navigational information from FBCB2 and imagery from the IBAS, CIV, or Driver's Vision Enhancer (DVE) to familiarize themselves with their surroundings prior to dismounting.[14]


Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV)

The BSFV is designed specifically for the carriage and support of a Stinger MANPADS team.

Warhammer Bradley

Modified M2A2 ODSs with the TOW missile system replaced with a two-tube Javelin Missile System, and ISU (Integrated Sight Unit) modifications for increased anti-tank lethality, without the need to continually track the target.

M6 Linebacker

M6 Linebacker along the highway near Balad, Iraq, October 2005

An air defense variant, these vehicles are modified M2A2 ODSs with the TOW missile system replaced with a four-tube Stinger missile system. These are due to be retired from U.S. service.[16]

M7 Bradley Fire Support Vehicle

The Bradley FiST is designed to replace existing forward observation vehicles in the U.S. Army inventory, and adds an inertial navigation system and a new targeting station control panel. A mission-processor unit automates the fire-request system.


See also


  1. ^ The Application of New Technology to Aluminum Armor Systems
  2. ^ a b Bradley M2 / M3 Tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicles, USA. Retrieved on August 1, 2008.
  3. ^ "M2A3 and M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems (BFVS)". Federation of American Scientists. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Michael Green & James D. Brown (2007). M2/M3 Bradley at War. St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-2523-0.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Haworth, W. Blair (1999). The Bradley and How It Got That Way: Technology, Institutions, and the Problem of Mechanized Infantry in the United States Army. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313309744. 
  6. ^ Diane L. Urbina. "Lethal beyond all expectations: The Bradley Fighting Vehicle" — in chapter 12 of George F. Hofmann and Donn A. Starry (editors) Camp Colt to Desert Storm: The History of U.S. Armored Forces, Lexington, Kentucky; The University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0-8131-2130-2.
  7. ^ James G. Burton, LtCol. The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press (1993). ISBN 1-55750-081-9.
  8. ^ [1]. Global Security
  9. ^ Quotation from General accounting office's report about the Bradleys and Abrams performance in the Gulf War: "According to information provided by the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, 20 Bradleys were destroyed during the Gulf war. Another 12 Bradleys were damaged, but four of these were quickly repaired. Friendly fire accounted for 17 of the destroyed Bradleys and three of the damaged ones."
  10. ^ L.B. Thompson, L.J. Korb, C.P. Wadhams. Army Equipment After Iraq. Lexington Institute and Center for American Progress.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ NBC also stands for nuclear, biological, chemical
  14. ^ a b c d Field Manual 3-22.1, Bradley Gunnery (Nov 2003). Headquarters, Department of the Army.
  15. ^ a b c Hans Halberstadt (2001). Europa Militaria No 30: Bradley Company. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire: The Crowood Press Ltd. ISBN 1-86126-425-9.
  16. ^ Air Defense Artillery April-June 2005

Further reading

  • Halberstadt, Hans (2001). Bradley Company. Europa Militaria No.30. The Crowood Press, Wiltshire. ISBN 1-86126-425-9. 

External links


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