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M2A3 and M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems (BFVS)

Increased funding for Stryker and Future Combat Systems (FCS) came as a result of Army decisions in 2002 to terminate or restructure some 48 systems in the FY '04-'09 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) long-term spending plan. Among the systems terminated were: United Defense's Crusader self-propelled howitzer and the A3 upgrade for the Bradley Fighting vehicle, GD's M1A2 Abrams System Enhancement Program, Lockheed Martin's Army Tactical Missile System Block II and the associated pre-planned product improvement version of Northrop Grumman's Brilliant Anti-armor (BAT) munition, Raytheon's Stinger missile and Improved Target Acquisition System, and Textron's Wide Area Mine.

Approximately 1,602 Bradley A2s will be remanufactured into A3s, including fire support and air defense derivatives. Engineering and manufacturing development of the A3 upgrade will continue through FY 1999. In March 1994, the Army awarded a contract to United Defense, Limited Partnership, to begin the engineering and manufacturing development phase. In June 1997, the Army approved the first LRIP for 35 systems with an FY98 option for an additional 18 systems, and low-rate production began in July 1997. A subsequent LRIP decision is scheduled for FY99 for 78 systems. The IOT&E for the BFVS-A3 is scheduled for 3/4QFY99. This IOT&E will be conducted in conjunction with the FOT&E 3 for the M1A2 Abrams System Enhancement Program. The LFT&E was scheduled for 3QFY98 through 1QFY99. The full rate production milestone decision was scheduled for 1QFY00.

The M2A3 and M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems (BFVS) are improved versions of the M2A2 and M3A2 BFVS. The BFVS-A3 includes enhancements intended to improve lethality, mobility, survivability, and sustainability. Additionally, these enhancements are intended to provide increased situational awareness and digital command and control capabilities necessary to provide information superiority to the dominant maneuver force. The Bradley Fighting vehicle and the Abrams Tank are the two central components of the dominant maneuver digital force.

The Bradley M2/M3A3 upgrade provides digital command and control enhancements that will permit that vehicle to operate as a part of the Army's emerging concept of a "digital battlefield." Among the enhancements that make up the upgrade are the addition of several computer displays (e.g., the Commander's Tactical Display) that will enhance the crew's situational awareness and facilitate the transmittal and review of information between the platoon, company and higher echelon levels.

The Bradley M2/M3A3 update program represents a major operational improvement over the A2 variants. The new system implements digital Command and Control (C2), advanced 2nd Gen FLIR, and other major new features necessary to permit the Bradley-A3 to interoperate on the Army's emerging Digitized Battlefield for Force XXI.

The M2A3 has more equipment than previous models of the BFV. This equipment is also more complex than that on earlier models, which requires more cross training to ensure soldiers can fill vacancies or shortfalls in critical positions. Also, because the M2A3 BFV platoon can transfer more information at every level, soldiers must work together more closely than ever before.

The M2A3/M3A3 model of the Bradley will facilitate enhanced command and control, greater lethality, and provide mobile protected transport of an Infantry squad, and Cavalry crewmen to critical points on the battlefield. M2A3/M3A3 will facilitate mechanized Infantry, cavalry scout, and other claimant (Bradley equipped Fire Support and Stinger Teams) missions in the 21st Century. Upgrades include advanced technology in the areas of command and control, lethality, survivability, mobility, and sustainability required to defeat current and future threat forces while remaining operationally compatible with the Abrams main battle tank. The M2A3/M3A3 will provide overwatching fires to support the dismounted infantry and suppress/defeat enemy tanks, reconnaissance vehicles, IFVs, armored personnel carriers, bunkers, and attack helicopters. In the Cavalry role, it will be used to conduct reconnaissance operations, economy of force, and screening missions. It will be employed in Combined Arms units alongside the M1A1 D and M1A2 SEP tank.

The A3 upgrade to the Army's Bradley fighting vehicle system is a major component of the Army digitization initiative, designed both to complement the capabilities provided by the M1A2 SEP and to incorporate needed enhancements identified during the Gulf War. The M2A3/M3A3 will be equipped with a digital electronic architecture incorporating on-board subsystem monitoring, diagnostics/ prognostics, and an Army Technical Architecture (ATA) compliant Command and Control software suite that is fully interoperable with M1A2 SEP and M1A1 D tanks, and other Force XXI digitized platforms. When equipped with upgraded Bradleys, mechanized infantry units will be able to share battlefield data with M1A2 SEP-equipped armor units. The digitization upgrades will improve both situational awareness and sustainability through automated fault reporting and diagnostics. The A3 upgrade will also increase the lethality of the Bradley by adding an improved fire control system and a commander's independent thermal viewer.

BFVS-A3 enhancements include

  • a vehicle control and operation system to control and automate many crew functions and to enhance situational awareness by transmitting, receiving, storing, and displaying digital messages. This digital capability is to be compatible with all components of the combined arms team.
  • the improved Bradley acquisition system (IBAS) and commander's independent viewer, both 2nd generation FLIR's, to improve target acquisition and target engagement.
  • a position navigation system with GPS receiver to enhance situational awareness.

Most of the modifications to the Bradley take place inside the vehicle and its turret. Although the turret of the A3 is smaller than the A2's, additional components and software to be installed increase the A3's ability to "shoot, move, and communicate". Moreover, functional improvements are to be made to the A3's electrical power system, Nuclear Biological Chemical protection system, 25mm enhanced gun system, situational awareness capability and its navigational systems.

Electrical power to the A3 is segregated such that many of the components in the A3 can continue to operate despite the failure of other components. Power will be supplied by a 400-ampere voltage and current-regulated generator connected to six hull batteries and one 24-volt turret battery.

The 25mm enhanced gun system will have two types of barrels, nitride and chrome. The gun uses the chrome-lined barrel to compensate for the higher temperatures when firing the new depleted uranium penetrator and other service ammunition. Removable link bridge plates will be installed on the feeder, replacing the old permanent bridge plates to ease the removal of jams and aid in cleaning out debris and/or dust build-up. Also, the manual safe switch will now travel approximately 30 percent beyond center when placed in the fire position to prevent the switch from jumping back to the safe mode when firing a weapon.

The upgrade will also touch on the troop compartment which will be reconfigured to accommodate 10 soldiers, consisting of a three-man crew and seven dismounts. The dismount squad leader will have his own display screen in the back of the A3 so that he and his dismounts can see what the Bradley commander (BC) and gunner see through their sights. The BC will also have the added advantage of a "target designator" enabling him to bring his gunner's line of sight or view of the battlefield online with his own at the push of a button. This way if the BC sees something on the battlefield in another area, the BC can change his gunner's sight picture instantly.

The A3's on-board diagnostics capability will enable it to execute a system-level built-in test on power up and continually monitors system status while power is applied. Malfunctions are to be displayed on the commander's tactical display to alert the crew of potentially dangerous faults. Pre-mission and preventive maintenance checks and services are built into software to make it easier for the operator to maintain the system. In the event of a failure which the crew cannot correct, maintenance personnel will no longer have to lug around six boxes of test equipment and a series of more than 13 technical manuals in order to troubleshoot the vehicle. The vehicle diagnostic and maintenance software will provide embedded diagnostic and maintenance capability.

Improvements to the sights will be combined with the advent of the squad leader's display, voice and data radios, digital maps, alerts, malfunctions, and digital messaging. Other improvements include a larger gas particulate filter system, along with additional crew stations and heaters, to provide NBC protection for the entire crew, both mounted and dismounted.

The M2A3 BFV features an improved Bradley acquisition system (IBAS), which adds an improved target acquisition subsystem and missile control subsystem. The improvements also include a second-generation, forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR); a thermal sight; a target-designation function; dual-target tracking; an eye--safe laser range finder; an automatic gun-target adjustment; automatic optical alignment; and "hunter-killer" capability. Second-generation FLIR allows the radley commander or the gunner to identify and acquire targets beyond the range f the vehicle's weapon systems. The IBAS enables the user to acquire, recognize, ientify, and automatically track two targets within the same field of view (FOV) an selected magnification, day or night. While moving (or stationary), the M2A3 BFV can use the 25--mm or 7.62-mm to engage either of two targets appearing in the same FOV, from any aspect. While stationary, the M2A3 BFV can use the TOW to engage either of two targets appearing in the same FOV, from any aspect.

The driver's vision enhancer (thermal) and the navigation display unit work together to improve the driver's visibility;, therefore improving his ability to drive. This M2A3 BFV has relatively unrestricted mobility in total darkness, in any weather conditions, and in degraded visibility conditions. The M2A3 BFV precision navigation system (PNS) consists of a precision lightweight GPS receiver (PLGR), an inertial navigation unit (INU), a precision lightweight GPS, precision lightweight GPS receiver (PLGR), and a vehicle motion sensor (VMS). These components can operate in five modes: integrated GPS/INU/VMS; GPS only (INU sensor failure); INU/VMS (the GPS receiver fails to acquire satellite signal or shows signs of damage); GPS/INU (VMS failure); and INU only (if the unit has neither a GPS receiver nor a VMS).

Normally, the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver [PLGR] gives the user precise position coordinates and time and navigational information. It cannot do so whenIf obstructions exist between the satellite and the antenna, . Tthe user can enter map coordinates as a way point. When the user picks a way point as a destination, the receiver can provide steering directions, azimuth, and range information to the destination. The PLGR can also show the offset distance from this course line. The PLGR cannot be removed from the BFV and operated in the handheld mode.

The Inertial Navigation Unit [INU] serves as the main navigational system. The INU works from a gyro-based ring laser. The PLGR supplies the INU with initial position data, and the INU, in turn, supplies the turret processor unit (TPU) with the BFV's position, velocity, attitude, and angular rate and acceleration (roll, pitch, and azimuth).

The components of the Precision Navigation System [PNS] can operate in five modes. These modes are: Integrated GPS/INU/VMS; GPS only (INU sensor failure); INU/VMS (the GPS receiver fails to acquire satellite signal or shows signs of damage); GPS/INU (VMS failure); and INU-only mode (in case the unit has neither a GPS receiver nor a VMS).

The purpose of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle is to enable Infantry soldiers to accomplish their mission of closing with and destroying, or capturing the enemy. The M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle emerged as a result of a threat and capabilities assessment, designed to ensure that the Infantry can overmatch the threat on the future Force XXI battlefield. The M2A3 is the first Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) that is technologically equal to the Abrams tank, it corrects Desert Storm deficiencies, capitalizes on ten years of mechanized Infantry experience, and integrates Army Horizontal Technical Integration initiatives (e.g. GEN II FLIR).

 The M2A3 insures overmatch by increasing the ability to acquire, identify and engage over the M2A2, in both day and night conditions. The M2A3 allows the crew to acquire more targets faster by adding a second sight for the commander. The Improved Bradley Acquisition System allows the crew to engage targets faster and more accurately by enabling first burst on target, eliminating the need for a sensing round. The Position navigation system enhances the crew’s navigation capability and their ability to pinpoint and identify friendly and enemy positions. The new digitized command and control system provides for a near real-time integrated data link between the M2A3 and other combat vehicles. The C2 system is integrated with the vehicle fire control and position navigation system, providing the crew with the ability to identify and hand-off targets to other BFV’s, tanks, helicopters, artillery, and mortars.

In FY03 DOT&E assessed the M2A3 to be operationally effective, suitable, and survivable based on the results of the IOT&E, DARI, and the LUT 2. Overall, the M2A3 showed an improved level of operational effectiveness in comparison to the M2A2, which was fielded during Operation Desert Storm. This improvement is attributed to the M2A3's enhanced capability to detect, identify, and hit targets. The M2A3 also has improved night fighting capabilities through its second-generation FLIR.

The FBCB2 digital command and control, as integrated into the M2A3, demonstrated during the IOT&E that it was neither effective nor suitable and it did not contribute to the operational effectiveness of the M2A3/M1A2 System Enhancement Package-equipped force. Despite this, the M2A3 was able to demonstrate an overall improved level of operational effectiveness in comparison to the M2A2 Operation Desert Storm, predominately because of the capabilities of the M2A3's second-generation FLIR and improved fire control system.

A test conducted September 12- 27, 2002, at the Electronic Proving Ground, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and cold weather testing at the Cold Regions Test Center, Alaska, revealed that significant suitability problems with M2A3 FBCB2 integration still existed. Recent technical test results indicate that FBCB2 reliability significantly improved when using a new Solid State Hard Drive instead of the standard spinning FBCB2 hard drive. A 1,500-mile follow-on production test at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and a two-week user demonstration (late November-early December 2003) are planned to confirm the effectiveness and suitability of this solution. Successful results and subsequent evaluation from these tests should close out the digital command and control issues on the BFVS-A3.


 Operational Concept:

 The M2A3 fights as a member of the Combined Arms team with the Abrams Tank. Its four primary missions are to:

  • Provide mobile protected transport of sufficient Infantry to the critical point on the battlefield.
  • Provide fires to support dismount Infantry.
  • Provide fires to suppress or destroy enemy IFV’s and light armor vehicles.
  • Provide Anti-armor fires to destroy enemy armor.

The integration of key enabling technologies (GEN II FLIR, improved fire control, Force XXI command and control, commander’s independent viewer, and squad leader’s display) gives the M2A3 the ability to operate on the Force XXI battlefield. These capabilities enable the M2A3 to:

  • "Shape" the battlefield and conduct the "decisive" fight. The ability to perform these missions is enabled by the availability of useful knowledge, through embedded digitization, enhanced with the eye-safe laser rangefinder, and GPS.
  • Conduct high tempo operations – Attack, disperse, attack again. High tempo operations are facilitated by rapid knowledge of self, friends, and enemy.
  • Seize and secure close or urban terrain. The M2A3 supports 3X9 with 10 seats. The squad leader’s display can provide situational awareness of the objective to the dismounts while mounted.
  • Deliver precision direct and indirect fires. IBAS & GEN II FLIR eliminate sensing round for precise fires, with reduced fratricide. Digitization, GPS, and LRF allow rapid, accurate calls for fire.
  • Deploy on either C-5 or C-17 to support power projection.
  • Conduct decisive distributed operations in dispersed, non linear, asymmetrical conditions. The GEN II FLIR enables earlier detection and engagement at greater ranges. The addition of Digitization and the CIV enhance effectiveness in dispersed, non linear conditions.
  • Conduct Full spectrum operations. The GEN II FLIR and digitization allow precise engagement, limiting collateral damage, fratricide, and non-combatant engagements. The CIV allows improved coverage in close terrain.


BFVS-A3 System Characteristics:

(1) General

Weight, combat loaded (without armor tiles) 67,500 lbs.
Weight armor tiles 6,410 lbs
Cruising range 250-265 miles
Gross horsepower/weight ratio (hp/ton)(w/tiles) 16.7
Gross horsepower/weight ratio (hp/ton)(w/o tiles) 18.5
Gross horsepower 600


(2) Performance

Speed (w/o tiles) 38 mph


(3) Mounted Weapon Systems

  • 25mm, M242 chain gun
  • TOW missile launcher (two tubes)
  • 7.62mm, M240C coaxial machine gun
  • 5.56mm, M231 Firing Port Weapon (2 each)


(4) Squad Weapons

  • SAW M249, 5.56 mm
  • Rifles, M16A2, 5.56mm (1 per squad member)
  • JAVELIN (Anti-Armor Weapon System-Medium)
  • AT-4
  • TOW Improved Target Acquisition System


(5) Ammunition

25mm 900
7.62mm 4400
5.56mm 5040
TOW Missile 3
JAVELIN (In place of Dragon) 3
AT-4 3


Program Status

First Unit Equipped (FUE) is schedule for Aug 2000. Prior to FUE the M2A3 will undergo a complete set of technical and operational tests. The M2A3 will participate in a total of four operational tests. Three operational tests: single vehicle, section, and platoon level, have already been completed. A company level IOT&E is scheduled for May 99 to July 99 at Ft. Hood, Tx.


FIELDING PLAN (DCSOPS "Mixed" Division Fielding Plan)

4TH ID 45/01 01
TB 21/40 01
1ST CAV 45/43 02
3RD ACR 0/131 03
3RD ID 90/43 06
NTC 50/0 06
1ST ID 45/43 07
1ST AD 45/43 08
2ND ID 45/43 08




PRC-119/OE-254 radio/antenna

Range 8 kmK *

Command control software:

C2S/VRC-92E   -   16 kmK *

C2S/VRC-92E/OE-254   -   35 kmK *

C2S/PRC-119   -   4 kmK *

Mini eye-safe laser infrared observation set (MELIOS)

50 to 9,995 meters; provides distance to target from observer; with a compass or vertical angle measurement (C/VAM) provides azimuth to target from observer

* Digital transmission

GOVERNMENT PROGRAM OFFICE: Project Manager, Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems, U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Command, Warren, MI., (COL Paul Izzo)

CORPORATE PRIME DEVELOPER: United Defense Limited Partnership, San Jose, CA.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:46:12 ZULU