Friday, September 30, 2011

M2A2 Bradley IFV Main Battle Tank Fighting Vehicles

The M2 Bradley had a long and tortured development. The program was initiated in the early 1960s, seeking a vehicle to complement the M113. The first two prototypes did not appear until 1978 - the better part of two decades - while the M113 steadily fell into obsolescence as a battlefield vehicle. The M2A2 Bradley IFV finally entered production in 1981, a year before the BMP-2. Regardless of the acquisition process, the M2 turned out reasonably well. It is fast enough to keep up with the M1 and packs a good punch (although the TOW is outranged by the heavier Russian ATGMs). It is taller than the BMP, which makes it easier to hit, but also allows it to fire in support of its own squad more easily.

M2A2 Bradley IFV Main Battle Tank
The armor has been upgraded over the years. Its amphibious ability is limited by the time needed to prepare the vehicle, unlike the BMP which needs only a minuscule amount of preparation, but arguably the cost savings is worth it. Perhaps the biggest debate surrounding the Bradley also surrounds all other ATGM-armed infantry fighting vehicles.

In Steel Beasts, as in real life, the M2A2 Bradley IFV poses a conundrum to commanders: is it a battle taxi for the squad, or is it a heavy ATGM carrier that happens to have some infantry inside? The battle positions most effective for the TOW (maximum range: 3,750 meters) are far from those best for the squad, whose maximum effective range is likely to be under 600 meters. A squad armed with manpack ATGMs makes the problem easier given the increased punch from the dismounted squad, but this simply raises again the purpose of the vehicle: is it A) an armor killer or B) a leg infantry support vehicle?

M2A2 Bradley IFV MBT
In the end, of course, the answer is C "both"; and for all the difficulty of deciding how best to employ the M2A2 Bradley IFV in a given tactical situation, it is doubtful it would be as valuable if the options were fewer. Just remember the M2A2 Bradley IFV packs one helluva punch, but it's limited armor means it can't go toe-to-toe with heavy opposition. Keep them moving most of the time, and if they aren't the center of attention, they should be able to take care of themselves.

M2A2 Bradley IFV Specifications

Crew: 3 plus 6 dismounts (TC is squad CO, and usually stays with vehicle)
Armament: 25mm autocannon, 7.62mm coax MG, twin TOW ATGM launcher
Ammunition: 900 x 25mm, 2,200 x 7.62mm, 7 TOW ATGM
Armour Protection: 300 max hull vs HE, 40 max vs KE
Armour Type: Aluminum, Laminate, & Steel - spaced and ERA
Length: 6.55 meters
Width: 3.61 meters
Height: 2.565 meters
Combat Weight: 22,940 kg
Engine: Cummins VTA-903T turbocharged 8-cylinder diesel
Max Road Speed: 66 km/h
Max Water Speed: 7.2 km/h [amphibious with screens erected; takes a fair bit of work]
Max Cruising Range: 483 km


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