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M2A0 and M3A0 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems (BFVS)

Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems have evolved since the first fielding, on 28 March 1983. The original Bradley A0 systems featured a Basic TOW missile system, 500 horsepower engine, and basic transmission.

Its predecessor, the M113 armored personnel carrier, dated back to the early 1960s and was really little more than a battle taxi. The 1973 Arab-Israeli War demonstrated that infantry should accompany tanks, but it was increasingly clear that the M113 could not perform that function because it was far slower than the M1, its obsolescence aside. European practice also influenced American plans for a new vehicle. German infantry used the well-armored Marder, a vehicle that carried seven infantrymen in addition to its crew of three, was armed with a 20-mm. gun and coaxial 7.62-mm. machine gun in a turret, and allowed the infantrymen to fight from within the vehicle. The French Army fielded a similar infantry vehicle in the AMX-1OP in 1973. The Soviets had their BMP-ls, which had a 73-mm. smoothbore cannon and an antitank guided missile, as early as the late 1960s. Variations of the BMP were generally considered the best infantry fighting vehicles in the world during the 1980s. The United States had fallen at least a decade behind in the development of infantry vehicles. General DePuy and General Starry, who at that time commanded the U.S. Army Armor Center and School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, agreed the Army needed a new infantry vehicle and began studies in that direction.

In 1980, when Congress restored funding to the Infantry Fighting Vehicle Program, the Army let contracts for prototypes, receiving the first production models the next year. Like the Abrams, the Bradley was a compromise among competing demands for mobility, armor protection, firepower, and dismounted infantry strength. As produced, the vehicle was thirty tons, but carried a 25-mm. cannon and 7.62-mm. coaxial machine gun to allow it to fight as a scout vehicle and a TOW (tube launched, optically tracked, wire command-link guided) missile launcher that enhanced the infantry battalion's antiarmor capability. The vehicle's interior was too small for the standard rifle squad of nine: it carried six or seven riflemen, depending on the model. That limitation led to discussions about using the vehicle as the "base of fire" element and to consequent revisions of tactical doctrine for maneuver. Critical to its usefulness in the combined arms team, however, the Bradley could keep up with the Abrams tank.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:46:10 ZULU