Friday, February 23, 2024

Lighter, hybrid and digital, the replacement for the M2 Bradley opens the way for the new generation of American armored vehicles

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The long-awaited replacement for the M2 Bradley, the US Army's infantry fighting vehicle, from the OMFV program will be lighter, hybrid and digital, far from the paradigms of its predecessor.

Intended to replace the M113 armored personnel carriers, as well as to counter the new Soviet BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles that entered service in 1966, the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle was one of the mainstays of the BIG 5 super program launched in the early 1970s by the US Army to modernize its capabilities and take into account the lessons of the Vietnam War, but also of the two Israeli-Arab wars.

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The new armored vehicle from FMC Corporation, already at the origin of the M113 and the LVPT-7 amphibious assault vehicle, broke profoundly with the armored vehicles in service in Western armies, notably with a turret armed with a 25 mm M242 cannon. and a double TOW anti-tank missile launcher, allowing it to attack heavy armor, including tanks, at distances of up to 4 km.

The long career of the M2 Bradley in the US Army

With the appearance of the BMP-2 in 1984, the Bradley began a long series of modifications and improvements to increase its survivability, with reactive armor plates, new communications and navigation systems, and an additional engine. more powerful to compensate for the weight gain, the armored vehicle having gone from 23 tonnes in its initial version, to almost 35 tonnes in its latest versions.

The Bradley had its moment of glory during the Gulf War in 1991, the US Army having deployed 2,200 of these armored vehicles against Iraq, or approximately half of the fleet. Although 20 Bradleys were destroyed during the ground campaign, and 8 damaged, mainly due to friendly fire, they destroyed a large number of Iraqi armor, including T-72 tanks using its TOW missiles, and T-55 tanks with its 25 mm cannon armed with high-performance shells with depleted uranium penetrator.

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However, during the second American intervention in Iraq, the M2 showed certain weaknesses, particularly in terms of urban engagement and facing IEDs from Iraqi insurgents. It became obvious that its replacement, planned since the early 2000s, had to be accelerated.

This is how the Ground Combat Vehicle program was born, officially launched in February 2010, but which quickly proved to be an impasse due to the requirements of the US Army which led to the design of an armored vehicle that was both very expensive and excessively heavy, beyond 70 tonnes. The program was finally abandoned in 2014, not without costing American taxpayers nearly $20 billion.

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The M2 Bradley has seen its mass increase by almost 50% over the years, hampering its mobility and impacting its consumption.

The OMFV program

No sooner had the GCV program been canceled than it was replaced by a new program intended again to replace the M2 Bradley. This, designated by the acronym OMFV for Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, was officially launched in August 2014, using the remaining unspent budget of the GCV program, within the Next Generation Combat Vehicle super program.

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If the specifications of the US Army had evolved significantly with regard to CGV, in particular with regard to certain requirements of dimensions and mass to allow the new armored vehicle to be air transported by C-17 aircraft, that -this very quickly proved to be disconnected from the technological reality of the moment, with certain requirements contradictory to each other, particularly with regard to mass limitations in the face of protection requirements.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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