From StratPage: A Quiet Farewell For the M-2 Bradley
March 5, 2012: One of the little-known casualties of the Iraq war was the American M-2 Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle). Five years ago the U.S. Army stopped using the M-2 in combat. By then it was clear that the enemy was intent on using mines and roadside bombs in a big way and the M-1 tank, Stryker, and MRAP vehicles were much better able to handle these blast weapons than the M-2.
The pictures above are from before that quiet withdrawal showing variations of the Bradley Urban Survival Kit BUSK. Compare this with images of the Bradley from the ‘Gulf War’ below:
And then this picture of a Bradley from the halcyon days when worries about swarms of Soviet tanks were just beginning to seem like a bad dream:
The US Army in WWII started out with light, medium and heavy tanks, anti tank vehicles and infantry carriers. This evolved through the 50s and 60s to the Main Battle Tank and the IFV (infantry combat vehicle.) The theory being that the tanks do the running around in front of the enemy getting hammered on with the IFV keeping up with but behind the tanks, hiding when the explosions got too loud and close.
The Army wants its armored-taxi/multi-use-chassis to be as mobile as the tank, carry a squad of infantry, a heavy anti tank weapon, an infantry support weapon, weigh half as much as the tank and be able to survive getting hit by medium calibre weapons. Rather too many metrics to trade off successfully.
Which explains why the Abrams M1 tank is successful (probably destined to be around till circa 2050…and may be the last ‘true’ tank ever) while the Bradley is essentially heading for the scrap pile? The answer is Armor and Power
M1A2SEP 72 tons | 1500hp versus M2 w/BUSK ~38 tons | 400
The ‘tank lite’ nature of the Bradley IFV with the added attraction of its soft gooey center of infantry, has always made them most valuable as far forward as possible, further forward in the battle than ‘safe.’ By the time of the Gulf War they had already been added armor, in the GW they did well, but in Iraq they suffered badly then more and more protection was added. Soon the vehicle was way over weight and because an IFV is a very ‘tight’ design there is no way to increase power. The Army ended up with a vehicle that is too heavy to move and too lightly protected to survive.
The Israelis’ have been on the leading edge of modern armored combat for most of their nation’s history. Their main battle tank design is focused on crew survivability and it can actually carry a couple of extra soldiers for scouting work. The Israeli’s have made IFVs out of old tanks with their turrets removed, not only because they don’t have money to burn but because it made sense, the heavy armor and high power to weight ratio of these vehicles made them much better close companions to main battle tanks than ‘purpose built’ IFVs.
The US army saw this in the combat reports from the last mess in The Lebanon, where the Israelis used the old converted vehicles as well as the more purpose built Namer IFVs. This and our own experience in the Gulf War, Iraq War and Afghanistan, drew the USArmy towards a much more heavily armored (and more powerful) vehicle the GCV (ground combat vehicle.) unfortunately the first iteration of the GCV when priced out by the Military Industrial Bandits was way too expensive for the Army and a more restrained requirement was developed. Which results in this….(read that last with a disgusted tone.)
A couple of recent image from BAE ( the current defense company incarnation for the group who were responsible for the Bradley) showing their latest GCV concept. This is a typical piece of post realism crap from our defense establishment. Its a hybrid electric vehicle, which failed to the tune of billions burning in FCS and is useless on an armored vehicle. It uses an active defeat systems for a lot of its protection (the little Dalek like warts on its ass.) And yet with a tracked suspension system one moderate IED will render this billion dollar baby dead in its tracks (pun intended.) In a sim its probably extremely good at what it is designed to do, protect the gooey middle and trundle around at some reasonable speed. But the thing has to be fragile as hell, its rather narrow between the eyes and tall so it won’t be able to do side slopes anywhere like the tortoise like MI can etc etc.
This is what happens when you reach the end of the technological road and don’t know where to go. The tank may not be dead but its bastard son the IFV is. My advice to the Army is find another route before you blow more billions on this turkey.
And BAE the current turkey presenter….used to be British Aerospace. Is this the Crown’s way of getting back at the Colonies for that cold seawater tea episode?