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M6 Bradley Linebacker (BL)

The Army's newest member of the Air Defense family of weapon systems is redefining short-range air defense (SHORAD). The Linebacker's speed, agility, and lethality bring a new dimension to the SHORAD battle. Fielded to mechanized and armor divisions, the Linebacker destroys low-altitude, high-speed aircraft--much like a football team's linebackers plug the threat at the line and intercept an opposing team's fleet running backs.

The Linebacker evolved from the Bradley Fighting Vehicles that have served the Army well since they were first fielded to the force in the early 1980s. Since that time Bradleys have become important members of the combined arms team. This was particularly true in the Persian Gulf. Following Operation Desert Storm (ODS), the Army interviewed Bradley soldiers to identify needed improvements. The ODS-version Bradley is the result of that process. It is an interim vehicle between the Bradley A2 and A3 versions to get the ODS improvements into the hands of the troops as quickly as possible. The Linebacker is a Bradley ODS-variant that replaces the TOW launcher with a STINGER launcher and configures the vehicle for STINGER operations. Automatic slew-to-cue capability assists target acquisition and engagement when the Linebacker is either stationary or on the move at 40 kilometers per hour.

The Linebacker is effective against all modern air threats. It is well-designed to accomplish its mission to provide heavy maneuver forces with dedicated low-altitude air and missile defense against cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft.

The Bradley M6 Linebacker is the United States Army Air Defense Artillery's solution for divisional air defense. The Linebacker successfully integrates the combat proven Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Stinger missile systems. Under the direction of Bradley Program and the Ft. Bliss SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) Program Manager, United Defense and Boeing are producing the Bradley Linebacker to fulfill the Army's critical requirement for forward divisional air defense warfighting capabilities. Successful target tracking and live missile firings have demonstrated that the Bradley Linebacker provides superior levels of air defense performance against post Cold War air threats. These threats include, Cruise type missiles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Rotary Wing, and Fixed wing aircraft. Low-cost modifications have been made to the existing Bradley turret using the Stinger fire control, Slew-to-Cue systems and the Sentinel Radar target acquisition subsystems, which give Linebacker the ability to engage targets and fire the Stinger missile while on the move and under armor protection. The Bradley Linebacker provides the superior mobility, firepower and protection to assure completion of air defense missions, day or night.

The Linebacker's combined arms mission is to provide air defense force protection to forward area heavy maneuver combat forces, combat support elements, and other critical assets from attack by enemy Rotary Wing (RW), Fixed Wing (FW), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and Cruise Missiles (CMs). Air Defense battalions in the heavy divisions employ the BL. The Linebacker provides heavy maneuver forces with dedicated air defense fire power: the modified fire control subsystem fires the Stinger missile from the turret while the four- man squad remains under armor and on the move. Targeting data is provided by Forward Area Air Defense (FAAD) Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I). This C3I complement provides early warning/alerting, the complete air picture, slew-to-cue, and target identification friend or foe (IFF).

While the Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV) provides air defense of the heavy maneuver force, the Stinger team must dismount to engage targets. Converting the BSFV to the Bradley Linebacker overcomes this deficiency. Bradley Linebacker retains the capability to maintain pace with the armored force with the added enhancement that the Stinger team remains under armor protection during engagements. Bradley Linebacker consists of the M2A2(ODS) Bradley with an integrated, externally mounted launcher that can fire four Stinger missiles while stationary or on the move. An integrated position, navigation, and north seeker capability allows for on-the-move cueing. FAAD C2 and Sentinel provide targeting information to assist in acquisition.

The initial Linebacker build is a short range air defense (SHORAD) Stinger missile system configured on an Operation Desert Storm (ODS) Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV/M2A2). In the summer of 1998, the M6 Bradley Linebacker (BL) began to replace the fielded SHORAD Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV). As the BFV upgrades to the M2/A3 vehicle, future Linebackers (fielding to begin in 2003) will eventually replace the ODS M2/A2 which will roll down to replace any remaining active Army Force Package 2-3 BSFV units.

The standard vehicle mounted launcher (SVML) carrying 4 Stinger missiles is added to the 25mm gun turret, eliminating the tube-launched, optically-tracked, wired-guided (TOW) missile which is standard to the BFV and the BSFV. The Linebacker provides for the stowage of ten STINGER missiles. There are four ready-to-fire STINGER missiles in the standard vehicle mounted launcher, or "SVML." There are six more STINGERs stored inside the Linebacker crew compartment. The platoon leader's MANPADS under armor (MUA) vehicle has a TOW launcher, not a STINGER SVML. The MUA carries two ready TOWs in the launcher, three stowed TOWs, and six stowed STINGER missiles. The STINGER missiles may be shoulder-fired or used to replenish Linebacker basic loads. In the event of launcher system damage or failure or should the maneuver force commander choose to employ the Linebacker in a static mode, the system maintains dismounted Stinger missile capability. The Linebacker with the STINGER missile system is the most agile and lethal short-range air defense system on the modern battlefield. The system is effective against both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft and cruise missiles.

In the past, over ninety percent of first-round misses during gunnery exercises resulted from the crew's inability to estimate range correctly. The Eyesafe Laser Range Finder (ELRF) automatically determines the accurate range to targets. The ELRF transmits a pulse of laser light, receives the reflected light from the target, and converts the time from transmission-to-reception into range. The ELRF can determine the range of targets out to 9,995 meters. It can discriminate among multiple targets, and it can fire its laser rapidly and repeatedly.

In addition to the Stinger launching system, the Linebacker carries standard Bradley Fighting Vehicles weapons: the 25mm gun and 7.62 coaxial machine gun. The Linebacker system allows shoot-on-the-move and slew-to-cue capability, replacing the BSFV "MANPADS-Under-Armor (MUA) Dismounted Stinger Team" employment concept. The 25mm chain gun contributes adjunct air defense firepower and, as with the 24CD 7.62 coax machine gun, provides self-defense.

The components of the Forward Area Air Defense Command, Control, and Intelligence, or FAAD C2I system work together to provide air-tracking, battle-management, and position data. This information allows you to acquire and execute slew-to-cue operations to engage enemy aerial targets.

The Missile Countermeasure Device (MCD) will protect Linebacker and MANPADS under armor (MUA) vehicles from most antitank guided missiles. The MCDs are in contingency stocks. They will be issued to units before they deploy to theaters where the Linebacker will face an ATGM threat. Additional training will be provided at that time. The MCD generates and directs invisible infrared radiation. When the Linebacker or MUA turret is turned towards an incoming missile, the infrared radiation confuses the ATGM's guidance system and causes the ATGM to fly into the ground. The MCD protects the vehicle on which it is mounted--not other vehicles in a unit or formation. The MCD cannot perform an overwatch mission.

The Bradley Linebacker will be integrated with the M2A3 Bradley as funding is provided. The Bradley M2A3 provides a second-generation FLIR, C2 software, and a fully digitized, integrated turret. M2A3 vehicles for Force Package 1 units have been resourced and will begin fielding in FY 02.

The material solutions will correct major deficiencies in Stinger team survivability, fire control, target acquisition, and identification such that Bradley Linebacker will:

  • Provide a 140% increase in kill capability.
  • Reduce personnel losses by 30%.
  • Significantly improve the engagement capability and allow Bradley Linebacker systems to maintain continuous protection of the maneuver force from helicopter, CM, UAV, and fixed-wing aircraft threats.

Failure to fund Bradley Linebacker M2A3 modifications would continue to require Stinger teams to dismount the vehicle exposing them to direct and indirect fires. In addition, the teams would not benefit from the Bradley FLIR acquisition enhancement and integrated digitized system, thus severely diminishing their ability to acquire and engage air targets. Funding is necessary to procure an additional 8 units to complete the Bradley Linebacker M2A2(ODS) acquisition objective of 107 systems.

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