The Bradley fighting vehicle is a fully armored, fully tracked vehicle designed to carry mechanized infantry into close contact with the enemy, to provide fire cover to dismounted troops, and to suppress enemy tanks and fighting vehicles.
U.S. Army Third Infantry Division Bradley vehicles sit in positon on an Army roll-on, roll-off discharge facility (causeway) for transport to the Exercise Native Atlas base camp after driving off of USNS Seay, off the coast of Camp Pendleton, CA, April 2002.
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle System (BFVS) is a lightly armored, fully tracked fighting vehicle. It is a sophisticated weapons platform that provides cross-country mobility, mounted firepower and protection from artillery and small-arms fire. It is used in mechanized infantry and armored cavalry combat.
There are two main models (click link for more photos):
The M2 Bradley provides infantry squads with a light armored fighting vehicle, a unique combination of firepower, mobility, and occupant protection from small arms, RPGs and other threats. With the M2 version, Infantry can fight from inside the vehicle by using modified M-16 rifles mounted in firing ports or may dismount to fight on foot. The M2 Bradley carries a crew of three (commander, gunner and driver), plus 6-7 additional soldiers. Rucksacks are generally carried on the outside of the vehicle.
The M3 Bradley version provides scout and armored cavalry units with a vehicle for reconnaissance, screening, and security missions. The M3 provides protected transport of an infantry squad on the battlefield and over-watching fires to support the dismounted infantry. The M3 is employed to suppress and defeat enemy tanks, reconnaissance vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, bunkers, dismounted infantry and attack helicopters; and performs cavalry scout and other essential duties. The M3 Bradley carries a crew of three (commander, gunner and driver), plus two additional soldiers.
Armament is available in multiple options including a 25mm cannon, effective against most armored targets, and with the TOW missile, effective against lightly armored targets out to its maximum range of 3,750 meters (2.3 miles).
A major weakness noted in the Bradley vehicles is a 175 gallon fuel tank in the belly, lightly protected by aluminum armor. In a land mine attack, the fuel tank can be a source of severe burns. Programs to address this weakness include heavier steel armor or relocating the tank to an external location.
The Army first received the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in 1981, manufactured by United Defense. By the end of contracts in FY94, the Army had purchased 6,724 Bradleys.
Bradley Upgrades and Variants
The original BFVS was superseded by the A1 and A2 variants. During Operation Desert Storm, the M2A2 Bradley was evaluated for lessons learned. This led to the ODS (Operation Desert Storm) upgrade to the M2A2 along with the ODS-E (Operation Desert Storm-Engineer) vehicles. BFVS-A2 ODS enhancements include:
Eye-safe laser range finder (ELRF) and driver's thermal imaging system
Missile countermeasure device designed to defeat first-generation wire-guided missiles
Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) Battlefield Command Information System
MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) heater added
Improved seating with two benches on the left/right sides of troop compartment
Improved internal stowage
A1 and A2 versions of both the M2 and M3 Bradley models were deployed to Southwest Asia.
M2A3 and M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems (BFVS) are improved versions of the M2A2 and M3A2 BFVS, an upgrade in the form of a remanufactured A2 or A2 ODS Bradley. Enhancements on the BFVS-A3 improve lethality, mobility, survivability, and sustainability. Additionally, these enhancements provide increased situational awareness and digital command and control capabilities. After nearly a decade of research and development, the A3 completed testing in the 2002-2003 time frame. BFVS-A3 enhancements include:
The improved Bradley acquisition system and commander's independent viewer, both 2nd generation Forward Looking Infrareds (FLIR), to improve target acquisition and target engagement
A position navigation system with a Global Positioning System receiver and a backup inertial navigation system to enhance situational awareness
Integrated maintenance diagnostics and Built-In-Test/Built-In-Test-Equipment
Other Bradley variants include fire support vehicle (A3 BFIST or M7 BFIST based on A2-ODS), the battle command vehicle, and the engineer squad vehicle (EBFV, or M2A2-ODS-E). A variant called the M6 Linebacker carried Stinger missiles, but most Linebackers were converted into M2A2-ODS vehicles under a February 2005 contract. The Armored Medical Evacuation Vehicle (AMEV) is a BFVS variant intended to replace the M113A2/A3 Armored Ambulance as the medical evacuation vehicle platform in the Army's heavy divisions.
Bradley Fighting Vehicles Characteristics
11.83 ft with armor tiles; 10.75 ft without armor tiles
A Bradley rolls through the Kuwait Gunnery Range, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Div, 10 Nov 2010.
U.S. Army Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division drive an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle to an assembly area at Camp Rustamiyah in East Baghdad, Iraq, prior to a patrol in the Baladiat area, 15 Feb 2007.
Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle at the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, CA.