M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle of United States Army

M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle is manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, formerly United Defense. It was named after US General Omar Bradley.

M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle
M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle

In 1972 the US Army requested design proposal to meet a requirement for a mechanized Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). It was developed in response to the Soviet BMP-1 IFV. A complex series of design submissions and changing specifications followed until a Fighting Vehicle System appeared, comprising two vehicles, an IFV which became M2 Bradley and Cavalry Fighting Vehicle which became the M3.

It was designed as a better armored replacement for the ageing M113armored personnel carrier. Deliveries of the M2 Bradley commenced in 1981 and have continued since with totals over 4 600 vehicles. Some 400 M2 IFV’s have been exported to Saudi Arabia. In 2017 a total of 32 M2A2s were delivered to Libya. In 2019 agreement was made to deliver 84 M2A2 ODS armored vehicles to Croatia. In 2020 it was announced that 350 M2A2s will be delivered to Greece. Upgraded M2 Bradley IFVs are scheduled to remain in active service with the US military until 2026, when a next-generation will be introduced, and beyond.

   The M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle has a welded aluminum armor hull. Front arc has a spaced laminated aluminum and steel armor. Initial production variant provided protection against 14.5 mm armor-piercing rounds. Front arc of the latest models provide protection against 30 mm armor-piercing rounds. Also vehicle is fitted with explosive reactive armor and withstands hits from RPG rounds. Bottom was reinforced with steel plates for improved protection against mines. The M2 Bradley is also fitted with NBC protection system.

   Vehicle is armed with a two-man turret, fitted with a 25 mm dual-fed Bushmaster chain gun. At the time of its introduction the Bradley was the first IFV with a fully-stabilized main gun. The gun fires armor-piercing and HE-FRAG rounds. Also there is a TOW anti-tank guided missile launcher loaded with two missiles. There is also a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. Interestingly during the US military actions in Iraq, since 2003 until 2011, the Bradley series armored vehicles destroyed more Iranian armored vehicles than Abrams main battle tanks.

   The Bradley IFV accommodates 6 dismounts. Infantrymen enter and leave the vehicle via the rear doors. Early models had firing ports with dedicated 5.56 mm assault rifles attached. These were later removed to avoid compromising the side armor protection.

   Original version of this infantry fighting vehicle was powered by a Cummins VTA-903T turbocharged diesel engine, developing 500 hp. Engine is located at the front. It is mated to an automatic transmission. The M2 is amphibious with the use of swim barrier. Swimming capabilities can be improved by the erection of inflatable buoyancy tanks. On water the Bradely is propelled by spinning its tracks. This IFV is air-transportable

   Throughout its service life the M2 Bradley IFV series has been the subject of numerous enhancements to improve combat capabilities and survivability for the vehicle and occupants. There were three main improvement programmes – the M2A1, M2A2 and M2A3.

Variants of M2 Bradley

M2A1, developed in 1986. It was completed with TOW-2 anti-tank guided missiles of new generation. Vehicle was also fitted with explosive reactive armor blocks and improved NBC protection system.

   M2A2, developed in 1988. This variant was fitted with uprated to 600 hp engine, strengthened suspension and improved armor. Interior was lined with spall-liner.

   M2A3, developed in 1995. Currently this variant is a standard Bradley IFV. Most previous Bradley IFVs were upgraded to this standard. It is fitted with explosive reactive armor of new generation, navigation system and other improvements. Firing ports were removed from the hull sides due to the ERA panels. Front arc of the M2A3 protects against 30 mm armor-piercing rounds. All-round protection is likely to be against 14.5 mm armor-piercing rounds. Latest Bradley also has some degree of protection against RPG rounds.

   M2A4 is a further upgrade of operational Bradley IFVs. It is fitted with a new engine, developing 675 hp. Electronic systems have been improved. Deliveries of upgraded vehicles commenced in 2020.

   M3 Bradley cavalry fighting vehicle (basically an armored reconnaissance vehicle).

   M4 battlefield command and control vehicle.

   M6 Linebacker short-range air defense vehicle, carrying four Stinger surface-to-air missiles instead of the TOW ATGW.

   M7 Bradley fire support vehicle. This variant was designed to replace forward observation vehicles.

   M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket system, based on the Bradley chassis.

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