The M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicles are made by the former United Defense, the BAE Systems Land and Armaments. They are used by American infantry and Cavalry: M2 Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and M3 Bradley CFV (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle). The fighting vehicle is designed to transport infantry, provide fire cover to dismounted troops and to suppress enemy tanks and armored vehicles. The M2/M3 Bradley are designed to offer some armored protection during its operations. The M2 Bradley carries a crew of three: a commander, a gunner and a driver; as well as six fully equipped soldiers. The M3 Bradley mainly conducts scout missions and carries two scouts in addition to the regular crew of three.
The Bradley was designed as a response to the soviet BMP family of infantry fighting vehicle. The first requirement of the vehicle came in the 1960s and it was needed to operate alongside the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (detailed elsewhere on this site). The result was the M2 and M3 Bradley systems which ended up actually replacing the M113 APC in US Army service thanks to its adaptable platform.
The difference between the M2 Bradley and M3 Bradley initial designs was in their classification. The M2's purpose was the transportation of up to seven combat-ready infantrymen. The M3 was designed for the armored reconnaissance and also had scouting role. The M2 and M3 Bradley appear visually identical and are fielded with the standard ATK Gun Systems Company M242 25mm cannon in a two-man turret. This is also fitted with a single 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Both vehicles also have advanced TOW anti-tank missile systems to the left side of the turret and can engage enemy infantry as well as armor.
M2 Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle)
The M2 Bradley is further different from the M3 Bradley by the added designation of IFV for "Infantry Fighting Vehicle" whilst the M3 Bradley features the CFV designation standing for "Cavalry Fighting Vehicle". The M2 Bradley has firing ports for infantrymen whereas the M3 does away with the ports and includes increased armor protection and larger storage for more ammunition. The first of two Bradley prototypes appeared as the XM2. They were produced by the FMC with deliveries of the Bradley family into US frontline service starting with 1981.
The Bradley was very effective in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and destroyed more enemy tanks than the M1 and M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank systems. On the flip side, of the twenty Bradley's lost in the conflict, 17 were due to friendly fire accidents. Thus, identification measures were put into place to minimize these incidents in the future.
The Bradley M2 and M3 have been used by the US Army since 1981 and since then until 1994. 4,641 M2s and 2,083 M3s have been produced. A special specification was made when the concept of the M2 and M3 Bradley appeared: to be faster than the M1 Abrams, in order to maintain formations during movement.
Main characteristics of the M2 and M3 Bradley: weight 30.4 tones; length 6.55 m; width 3.6 m; height 2.98 m; Crew 3+6; Primary armament 25 mm M242 Chain Gun 900 rounds, TOW Anti-Tank Missile, 7 TOW Missiles; secondary armament 7.62 mm M240C machine gun 2,200 rounds; Engine diesel 600 hp (447 kW); Power/weight 19.74 hp/tone; Suspension torsion bar; range 483 km or 300 mi; Speed 66 km/h or 41mph.
M3 Bradley CFV (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle)
The Bradley's 25 mm cannon can fires up to 200 rounds per minute and is accurate up to 2500 m depending on the used ammunition (HE or APDS-T). The twin TOW2B missiles can destroy most of the hostile tanks at a maximum range of 3750 m. The TOW can only be fired while the vehicle is stationary. The Bradley also carries an M240C coaxial 7.62 mm medium machine gun. The M2/M3 Bradley is highly capable in cross-country open terrain
There are several versions of the M2/M3 Bradley, each of them adding new improvements to the previous version. The M2/M3 introduced in 1982 had 500 horse power engines with a hydro-mechanical transmission and standard TOW missile systems. Also know as M2A0/M3A0 Bradley, it was amphibious and was capable of protection against 14.5 mm AP. The M2A1/M3A1 Bradley were introduced in 1986 and the improvements were TOW II missile system, fire suppression system and gas particulate filter units NBC system.
The M2A2/M3A2 Bradley had improved an engine to 600 horse power, armor improvement to protection against 30 mm AP and RGPs. The next versions are the M2A2 ODS/ODS-E and M3A2 ODS used in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Storm-Engineer, with further improvements: tactical navigation system, with precision lightweight GPS receiver and digital compass system, and eye-safe laser rangefinder. The last improved model was M2A3/M3A3 Bradley which was introduced in 2000. This version made it totally digital, had improved target acquisition and fire control, navigation and situational awareness. Also the fire suppression system and NBC equipment were improved, and the survivability of the vehicle was upgraded.
The M2/M3 Bradley successfully fulfilled the concept requirements and as time passed, the improvements made make it a very dependable combat vehicle that the US Army and the Saudi Arabia uses with success.
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