Military Wiki
Bradley Fighting Vehicle
A U.S. Army Bradley in 2004, during the Iraq War.
Type Armored fighting vehicle
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1981–present
Used by See Operators below
Production history
Number built 6,720[1]
Variants See Variants below
Weight 27.6 t (4,350 st)
Length 6.55 m (21.5 ft)
Width 3.6 m (12 ft)
Height 2.98 m (9.8 ft)
Crew 3 + variable number of passengers depending on variant

Armor Spaced laminate armor: 30 mm AP and RPG all around protection.[2][3]
25 mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun
BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile
7.62 mm M240 machine gun
Engine Cummins VTA-903T diesel
600 hp (450 kW)
Power/weight 19.74 hp/ton
Suspension torsion bar
400 km (250 mi)
Speed 56 km/h (35 mph)

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) is a fighting vehicle platform of the United States manufactured by BAE Systems Land & Armaments, formerly United Defense. It was named after U.S. General Omar Bradley.

The Bradley is designed to transport infantry or scouts with armor protection, while providing covering fire to suppress enemy troops and armored vehicles. The several Bradley variants include the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle and the M3 Bradley cavalry fighting vehicle. The M2 holds a crew of three (a commander, a gunner, and a driver) along with six fully equipped soldiers. The M3 mainly conducts scout missions and carries two scouts in addition to the regular crew of three, with space for additional BGM-71 TOW missiles. The Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, is the Center of Industrial Technical Excellence for the maintenance and repair of the Bradley system.


The Bradley was developed largely in response to the Soviet BMP family of infantry fighting vehicles, and to serve as both an armored personnel carrier, and a tank-killer. One specific design requirement was that it should be as fast as the then new M1 Abrams main battle tank so they could maintain formations while moving.


A Bradley firing a TOW missile

The M2/M3's primary armament is a 25 mm cannon that fires either 100 or 300 rounds per minute and is accurate up to 3,000 m, depending on the ammunition used. It is also armed with a TOW missile launcher that is capable of carrying two loaded missiles. The missiles, capable of destroying most tanks to a maximum range of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), can only be fired while the vehicle is stationary. The Bradley also carries a coaxial 7.62 mm medium machine gun, located to the right of the 25 mm chain gun.


A Bradley turret, showing the M242 25mm chain gun

The Bradley is equipped with the 25 mm M242 Bushmaster as its main weapon. The M242 is a single-barrel chain gun with an integrated dual-feed mechanism and remote feed selection.[1] The cannon has 300 rounds of ammunition in two ready boxes (one of 70 rounds, the other of 230 rounds), with an extra 600 rounds in storage for the M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle variant or 1,200 stowed rounds for the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle variant. The two ready boxes allow a selectable mix of rounds, such as the M791 APDS-T (Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot (with) Tracer) and M792 HEI-T (High Explosive Incendiary (with) Tracer) rounds. The tungsten APDS-T rounds proved highly effective in Desert Storm, being capable of knocking out many Iraqi vehicles, including several kills on T-55 tanks. A few kills against Iraqi T-72 tanks at close range have been reported.[4] Subsequent ammunition developments resulted in the M919 APFSDS-T (Armor-Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot with Tracer) round, which contains a finned depleted uranium penetrator similar in concept to armor-piercing munitions used in modern tanks. The M919 was used in combat during the 2003 invasion phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


It is also armed with an M240C machine gun mounted coaxially to the M242, with 2,200 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. For engaging heavier targets (such as when acting in an antitank fashion), the Bradley has a TOW missile system on board, which was changed to fire TOW II missile from the M2A1 model onwards. M2 infantry Bradleys also have firing ports for a number of M231 Firing Port Weapons (FPWs), providing a means for the occupants to fire from within the vehicle and replacing the top-side gunners on the M113-based Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicles, though the M231 is rarely employed. Initial variants had six ports, but the side ones were plated over with the new armor configuration on the A2 and A3 variants, leaving only the two rear-facing mounts in the loading ramp. No versions of the M3 CFV carry firing port weapons, though early versions had all six firing port mounts fitted and plated over, while newer versions retain the two-ramp mounted firing ports, though again plated over.


The use of aluminum armor and the storage of large quantities of ammunition in the vehicle initially raised questions about its combat survivability. Spaced laminate belts and high-hardness steel skirts have been added to improve the side protection of later versions, although this increases overall weight to 33 tons. In friendly fire incidents in Desert Storm, many crew members survived hits that resulted in total losses for lighter U.S. Marine Corps LAV-25 vehicles.[citation needed]

All versions are also equipped with two four-barreled smoke grenade launchers on the front of the turret for creating defensive smoke screens, which can also be loaded with chaff and flares.

Bradley Urban Survival Kit

The Bradley Urban Survival Kit (BUSK) is an upgrade similar to the M1 Abrams TUSK kit. It decreases the vulnerability of Bradleys in urban threat environments.[5] The kit includes a more powerful spotlight, a wire mesh protector to keep the optics from getting scratched, and nonconductive arched strips of nylon that push away fallen electrical wires (power line protection) that would endanger crews, additional armor on the underside, and a bullet-resistant transparent shield for the commander outside the turret. It also includes sensors and a software package to quickly detect when components are wearing out and simulation software so the gunners could train more realistically. The BUSK kit adds 3 tons to the vehicle's weight. Because of this, a major upgrade was planned. Additional upgrades included a stronger, 800-horsepower engine, a larger main gun, lighter armor, improved sensors and cameras to give a 360° view outside, and an improved fire extinguisher system. This system was supposed to enter service in 2012, but the Bradley became too heavy and the kit did not make it survivable enough.[6] A newer BUSK III kit is now available for Bradleys incorporating a blast-proof fuel cell, a blast-resistant driver seat, a turret survivability system, and an emergency ramp release. This kit was recently installed on 236 M2A3 Bradleys in South Korea and is scheduled next to be added to Bradleys of the 4th Infantry Division.[7]


Flotation curtain, now discontinued

The Bradley is highly capable in cross-country open terrain, in accordance with one of the main design objectives of keeping pace with the M1 Abrams main battle tank. The Bradley was initially designed to float by deploying a flotation curtain around the vehicle, allowing it to "swim" at a speed of 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h). Later armor upgrades have negated this capability.[8]



One of the early issues that drove the development of the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) was the need to have a vehicle that could serve in a high-intensity conflict in Europe, which was feared might include the use of nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) type weapons. To work in such an environment, an IFV would have to have a life-support system that protected from outside contaminants while allowing the soldiers to fight from inside the vehicle. The earliest specification, from 1958, called for a vehicle of no more than 8 tons, mounting a turret with a 20 mm autocannon and a 7.62 mm machine gun, with sealed firing ports for five infantry gunners.[9]

The first U.S. Army IFV design was the XM734, a modified version of the M113. A commander's cupola and passenger firing ports were added. The second design was the XM765 Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, based on the M113A1 chassis. The upper sides of the vehicle were sloped and spaced steel armor plates were added to improve protection. In addition, firing ports for the passengers were added and a M139 20 mm cannon was added to the commander's cupola.[9]

In 1963, the U.S. and West German governments began work on the MBT-70 design and an IFV companion project named the Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV-70).[9] The contract was handed to the Pacific Car and Foundry Company, which delivered the XM701 prototype in 1965. The prototypes had the following characteristics: weight of 25–27 tons (depending on an aluminum or steel hull); 425 HP diesel engine; a two-man turret with a 20 mm gun & 7.62 mm MG; crew of three plus nine infantry equipped with firing ports; a built-in toilet; armor that was proof against Soviet 14.5 mm MG fire beyond a certain range; a collective and overpressure CBR system; amphibious.[9] The filtration system provided a shirt-sleeve environment until the passengers dismounted, after that they could not repressurize without fear of contamination, but they could plug their suits into the vehicle's filtration system. The vehicle was 9 ft (2.7 m) high, 20 ft (6.1 m) long, and 10 ft (3.0 m) wide. After testing, the vehicle was criticized for its poor mobility and excessive weight and size; it could not be carried aboard a C-130 or a C-141 Starlifter). New specifications were written in 1965.

In 1967, the public display of the BMP-1 caused additional interest in the MICV-70 program, which concluded its studies in 1968. However, continued disagreements on specifications continued to slow down development.[9]

At this time, the Army looked at two alternate vehicles that could be fielded more quickly. The FMC company had developed an IFV version of the M113, which had a one-man turret mounting a 25 mm gun, a sealed environment, and firing ports. The vehicle weight was 15 tons. The U.S. Army rejected it due to limited mobility, which would have prevented it from keeping pace with the proposed MBT-70. However, the design was purchased by the Dutch and Belgian governments.[9] The other alternate vehicle was the West German Marder, which mounted a 20 mm autocannon, two 7.62 mm MGs, relatively strong steel armor, and full CBR protection. The U.S. Army rejected it due to it not being amphibious, too large and heavy for air transport, and too expensive.[9]

XM723 prototype being offloaded from a McDonnell Douglas YC-15 during a test, 1977

The MICV program continued on, and in 1972, a new request for proposals was issued. This was won by FMC, which began construction of the XM723 prototype, which was completed in 1973. The XM723 weighed 21 tons, had spaced aluminum armor proof against 14.5 mm fire, had a crew of three plus eight infantry, firing ports for the infantry, and a one-man turret with a 20 mm gun. The commander sat inside the hull. To adapt the XM723 to be usable in a reconnaissance role, as well as an IFV, the turret was replaced in 1976 with a two-man turret mounting a 25 mm Bushmaster cannon and TOW missiles (this was the MICV TBAT-II design). A two-man turret design put the commander in a position with a better view of the battlefield. The TOW missiles give the vehicle a strong antiarmor capability. The value of antitank missiles had been well established in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The added political advantage was that the TOW missiles made it an easier sell to Congress, as it was a new capability not possessed by the M113.[9]

We in TRADOC...decided to put the TOW on the MICV because we realized that if we did not put the TOW on the MICV, we would probably never have a MICV.

—General Donn Starry, Army magazine, 1987.

In 1977, the MICV TABA-II was renamed the XM2. The scout version became the XM3. The U.S. Congress was questioning the development of the XM2 due to the high losses incurred by BMP-1s in the 1973 war and suggested the development of a more heavily armored vehicle. The Army argued against this due to concerns about cost, weight, and development time.

Almost every army you look at is ahead of the American Army, as far as taking care of our infantry. The Russians are ahead of us, the Germans are ahead of us, the Dutch are ahead of us, the French are ahead of us, the Yugoslavians are ahead of us. Almost everybody has a better infantry vehicle than the U.S. Army.

We would have been better off in 1963 when we started to just build the MICV immediately. Are we to start over again? My guess is that if you start over again, you will have a 10% increase in effectiveness and 50% increase in cost.

—General William E. DePuy, testimony to Congress, 1977.[citation needed]

In 1977, Congress ordered two new evaluations of the IFV program, one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and one by the Department of the Army, under General Pat Crizer. The GAO report was critical of the XM2's height, mobility, complexity, lack of clear doctrinal use, and lack of chemical/biological/radiological protection. Based upon this criticism, the OMB deleted M2/3 funding from the budget for the 1979 financial year.[10] In 1978, the Crizer report asserted that the basic design was consistent with doctrine and development of an IFV with superior characteristics would be costly and pose significant developmental risks.[10] An additional study, the IFV/CFV Special Study Group, evaluated whether an improved version of the M113 could be used instead of the M2/3 IFV. Their conclusion was that extensive redesign would be necessary for even marginal improvements in M113 derivatives.[10] In October 1978, Congress reauthorized procurement funds.

The XM2/3 passed the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council Milestone II review in 1979 and final approval for production came from the Secretary of Defense on 1 February 1980. In October 1981 the vehicle was named the "Bradley" for World War II Army General Omar Bradley, who had died earlier that year.[11]

In 1993, one of the military inspectors, Col. James G. Burton, released his book The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard, exposing from within how the Army had falsified test results during the development.[12][13] The book is adapted to the TV movie The Pentagon Wars in 1998.

Production history

The Bradley consists of two types of vehicles, the M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle. The M3 CFV was originally planned to be named after General Jacob L. Devers,[10] but it was decided the Bradley name would apply to both, since both vehicles are based on the same chassis (they differ in only some details). The M2 carries a crew of three and a six-man infantry squad. The M3 carries the crew of three and a two-man scout team and additional radios, TOW and Dragon or Javelin missiles.

Even after the troubled development history of the Bradley[14] additional problems occurred after production started as described in a book by Air Force Col. James Burton,[15] Burton advocated the use of comprehensive live-fire tests on fully loaded military vehicles to check for survivability. The Army and Navy agreed and established the joint live fire testing program in 1984.[10]

When testing the Bradley, however, disagreements occurred between Burton and the Aberdeen Proving Ground's Ballistic Research Laboratory, which preferred smaller, more controlled, "building block" tests. They claimed such limited (and according to Col. Burton, completely unrealistic) testing would "improve the databases used to model vehicle survivability", as opposed to full tests with random shots that would provide a far more accurate picture of its performance under real battlefield conditions, but produce less useful statistical data.[10] In addition, Burton insisted on a series of "overmatch" tests in which weapons would be fired at the Bradley that were known to be able to easily penetrate its armor, including Russian ordnance. Burton saw attempts to avoid such tests as dishonest, while the BRL saw them as wasteful, as they already knew the vehicle would fail.[10] The disagreements became so contentious that Congressional inquiry resulted. As a result of the tests, additional improvements to vehicle survivability were added.

The first combat unit to be equipped with Bradleys (four M2s and six M3s), in March 1983, was the 1st Battalion, 41st (Mechanized) Infantry, 2nd Armored Division.[16] Several years later, the unit commander, Lt. Col Franklin W. Trappnell, Jr., became the Army's system manager for the Bradley program.[17]

As of May 2000, 6,724 Bradleys (4,641 M2s and 2,083 M3s) had been produced for the U.S. Army. The total cost of the program as of that date was $5.7 billion, and the average unit cost $3.2 million.[18]

Combat history

Bradley IFV burns after being hit by Iraqi fire three times[19] during the Battle of 73 Easting

During the Gulf War, M2 Bradleys destroyed more Iraqi armored vehicles than the M1 Abrams.[20] A total of 20 Bradleys were lost—three by enemy fire and 17 due to friendly fire incidents; another 12 were damaged. The gunner of one Bradley was killed when his vehicle was hit by Iraqi fire, possibly from an Iraqi BMP-1, during the Battle of 73 Easting.[21] To remedy some problems that were identified as contributing factors in the friendly fire incidents, infrared identification panels and other marking/identification measures were added to the Bradleys.

In the Iraq War, the Bradley proved vulnerable to improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenade attacks, but casualties were light with the crew able to escape. In 2006, total losses included 55 Bradleys destroyed and some 700 others damaged.[22][23] By 2007, the Army had stopped using the M2 Bradley in combat, instead favoring more survivable MRAPs.[6] By the end of the war, about 150 Bradleys had been destroyed.[24]


The U.S. Army first intended to replace the Bradley as part of the Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles program, which started in 1999 and was cancelled in 2009. In 2010, the army started the Ground Combat Vehicle program to replace the Bradley with the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle, but the GCV was cancelled in 2014. Informal discussions for the next follow-up effort were dubbed as the Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV);[25] in May 2015, General Dynamics and BAE Systems, the two prime contractors involved with the GCV, were awarded contracts to develop design concepts for the FFV.[26][27] The Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) effort is planned to test "at least two" prototypes by 2022 in order to field a new armored vehicle by 2035. Several concepts are being examined, including emphasizing maneuver capability over blast protection and splitting up the squad into more than one vehicle.[28][29][30][31][32] In 2018, the NGCV team was soliciting industry feedback for an Optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMFV).[33] The Army is also seeking first access to commercial self-driving cars.[34]


Soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment load into the rear of an M2 Bradley in Iraq

M2 Bradley

The M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) consists of five variants: the M2, M2A1, M2A2, M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm improvements), and M2A3. Their main mission is to provide protected transport of an infantry squad (up to six passengers) to critical points. Aside from carrying mechanized infantry into close contact with the enemy, the M2 can also provide overwatching fire to dismounting infantrymen. It is adequately armored to provide protection against small arms fire and artillery, and able to combat any vehicle on the battlefield using its TOW or Stinger missiles.[35] The M2 IFV also has six external firing ports for the squad M231 Firing Port Weapon on the M2 and M2A1 versions only. Four ports were removed on the sides of the vehicle on the M2A2-A3 versions, and only two in the ramp remain. These ports allow passengers to engage the enemy from within the protection of the Bradley vehicle. These firing ports are almost always covered by additional armor kits and a Bradley with them operable is rare. The proper use of M231 FPWs was rare in practice.

The M2 Bradley unit cost is $1.11 million (FY 1993 constant dollars)[36] US$1.84M in 2016 (inflation adjusted).

M3 Bradley

The M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV) is virtually identical to the M2 Bradley except that it is equipped as a cavalry/scout vehicle. Instead of holding six infantrymen in the payload compartment, it is designed to seat two scouts and hold additional radios and ammunition. Also lacking are the six external firing ports present on the M2 Bradley IFV.[35]

M4 Command and Control Vehicle (C2V)

The C2V is based on the M993 MLRS carrier chassis (see below) and is designed to provide an automated tactical command post and operations centers. It was designed to replace the M113-based M577A2 Command Post Carrier.[37] Mass production was cancelled in late 1999. Around 25 vehicles were finally produced for the US Army.[38]

Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV)

The BSFV is designed specifically for the carriage and support of a Stinger MANPADS team. The MANPADS-Under-Armor (MUA) dismounted Stinger team concept of the BSFV left the operators exposed, so it was replaced by the M6 Linebacker, which also retained the dismounted Stinger missile capability.[39]

Warhammer Bradley

Modified M2A2 ODSs with the TOW missile system replaced with a two-tube Javelin Missile System, and Integrated Sight Unit modifications for increased antitank lethality, without the need to continually track the target.[40]

M6 Linebacker

M6 Linebacker along the highway near Balad, Iraq, October 2005

An air defense variant, these vehicles are modified M2A2 ODSs with the TOW missile system replaced with a four-tube Stinger missile system. From 2005 to 2006, M6 Linebackers had their Stinger missile systems removed and were converted to standard M2 Bradley ODS IFVs.[41] By 2017, the Army was exploring reintroducing air defense Bradleys with the reemergence of hostile aerial threats.[42] In October 2017, BAE displayed an updated version of the Bradley Linebacker called the M-SHORAD (Mobile Short-Range Air Defense) equipped with the pMHR search radar mounted around the turret, a fire-control radar, a jammer on top of the turret to non-kinetically defeat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the main gun replaced with an XM914 30 mm autocannon with airburst rounds, and a missile launcher that could accommodate various missiles including the Stinger, AIM-9X Sidewinder, or others.[43][44][45] The Army chose to create an M-SHORAD vehicle out of the Stryker instead of the Bradley; although the tracked Bradley has better mobility on soft ground, the wheeled Stryker has sufficient mobility to perform tactical air defense while also having greater weight, space, and electrical power capacity to make upgrades.[46]

M7 Bradley Fire Support Vehicle

The B-FiST has replaced the existing armored FiST vehicle (FiST-V) platform, the M981 FISTV, in the U.S. Army inventory. The TOW/UA suite is replaced by target location equipment, integrated with the Bradley ISU sight unit. It also carries equipment for use by dismounted observers. A hybrid GPS/inertial/dead reckoning navigation system robustly provides the vehicle location as a reference point.

Bradley Engineer Squad Vehicle

The Bradley ESV enables engineer assets to maintain momentum with the main force while conducting engineer and sapper operations. The ESV is equipped with standard combat engineering equipment and can employ unique mission equipment packages for obstacle neutralization.[47]

Bradley Battle Command Vehicle

The Bradley BCV allows brigade commanders to move around the battlefield away from their command post. The BCV integrates an enhanced command and control communication suite to maintain digital interface with maneuver forces and the Tactical Operations Center.[47]

M993/M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System Carrier Vehicle

The M270 MLRS is composed of two major sections, a M269 Launcher Loader Module mated to a M993 carrier vehicle.[48] The M993 carrier vehicle portion is a modified BFV chassis.[49]

Black Knight

The Black Knight prototype unmanned ground combat vehicle being developed by BAE resembles a tank and makes extensive use of components from the Bradley Combat Systems program to reduce costs and simplify maintenance. It is also designed to be remotely operated from a BFV commander's station while riding mounted, as well as being controllable by dismounted infantry.[50][51]

Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle

For the U.S. Army's Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program to replace the M113, BAE offered a variant of the Bradley. The AMPV submission is a turretless Bradley chassis, providing greater cargo space, increased armor, and upgraded engine and electrical systems. For increased protection, a V-shaped bottom replaces the flat base. The AMPV also has several modular roof sections to adapt to each role. For fuel efficiency, BAE is considered using a hybrid-electric drive, similar to their GCV IFV. It was suggested that surplus Bradleys could be retrofitted into this version.[52][53]

BAE said they have the capability to build up to eight AMPV platforms per day, the same as the Bradley during the height of its production, as both vehicles share the same production line and supply base.[54] A mortar carrier vehicle can be converted from the original Bradley in 40 days.[55] Underbody blast tests demonstrated that AMPV survivability requirements could be met with a Bradley platform.[56] BAE projected their AMPV submission to have similar operating costs to the M113 and lower costs than an M2 Bradley, as the platform's most expensive components are related to the omitted turret.[57] To better accommodate modern electronics, the turretless Bradley has 78% more internal space than the M113, and two 400-amp generators.[58]

BAE Systems rolled out the first AMPV prototype on 15 December 2016. Currently, 160 vehicles are budgeted to be produced per year, which is enough to field one and a half brigades.[59]


Map with Bradley operators in blue

See also


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  19. See the following document (scan)
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Further reading

  • Halberstadt, Hans (2001). Bradley Company. Europa Militaria No.30. The Crowood Press, Wiltshire. ISBN 1-86126-425-9. 

External links

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