M88A1 Medium Recovery Vehicle
The diesel powered version of the M88, called the M88A1, was produced in response to the dieselization of the US Army tactical vehicle fleet. Initial trials demonstrated an increase in operating range from 360 to 450 km. This vehicle also had a modified transmission, a diesel-fired personnel heater and auxiliary power unit, and stowage space for a small quantity of LAW anti-tank weapons. The hydraulic system was redesigned to allow the auxiliary power unit to operate the main winch cable as well as stow the boom and spade to prepare the vehicle for recovery, should the hydraulic system fail. The converted vehicle was designated the M88E1 and BMY built five prototypes for accelerated evaluation. The M88A1 was type classified in March 1975.
Due to an increased need for medium recovery vehicles and a desire to improve those already in the field, the US Army contracted in 1975 to reopen the M88 production line at the BMY plant in York, Pennsylvania. Conversion of existing M88s to this new form ended in 1982 and new vehicle production initially ended in 1989, with a total of 3,042 M88A1 ARVs produced. But this was not the end of M88A1 production, as the assembly lines were once again started up in 1991 to meet the demand for a number of foreign customer sales.
The M88A1 Medium Recovery Vehicle (MRV) is a full tracked armored vehicle used to perform battlefield rescue and recovery missions. The M88A1 MRV performs hoisting, winching, and towing operations supporting recovery operations and evacuation of heavy tanks and other tracked combat vehicles. It has a fuel/defuel capability and is fully equipped to provide maintenance and recovery support for the main battle tank family and similar vehicles. These functions can be performed in all types of terrain during all weather conditions.
The existing M88A1 does not provide safe operation, braking, steering control or adequate power for recovery of the main battle tank. The M88A1, built for the preceding generation of M60 series tanks, are significantly outweighed by the 70-ton M1 tanks, a factor which severely limits the capabilities of the M88A1 in many types of terrain and situations. Due to weight differentials, two M88A1s are required to safely tow an Abrams series tank. The development of a new recovery vehicle began in August 1982 with the Ordnance Center and School (OC&S) identifying the need to develop an alternative which could support the Abrams fleet in terms of the mission requirements of recovery, towing and winching. A decision to build a new versus an improved vehicle was reversed several times, affordability being the constant issue. In August 1986, HQDA approved the strategy to develop a program around a product improvement to the M88A1.
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