Ukraine will shortly receive Bradley M2 tracked armored infantry fighting vehicles as part of the next aid package from the United States. Today, we’re going to tell you all about this powerful IFV.
Just recently it became known that the Pentagon has determined which Bradley M2 modification will be delivered to Ukraine. Our defenders will receive Bradley M2 infantry fighting vehicles in the M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm) version. This modification was developed based on the experience gained during the 1991 Iraq War (. In our review, we will talk about all the modifications of the Bradley M2, but we will pay special attention to the M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm) modification. Because it will help the Ukrainian Armed Forces fighters to resist the Russian invaders.
Interesting facts about Bradley M2 IFV
The Bradley M2 is a US infantry fighting vehicle named after the legendary American General Omar Bradley. It was created in the 1970s under the influence of the Soviet BMP-1 and the German Marder. It was developed as a more protected and better armed alternative to the M113 armored personnel carriers.
In 1972, work began on a new mechanized infantry fighting vehicle for the US Army. After a long period of design, changes in specifications, and testing, a system of two combat vehicles emerged: The Bradley M2 armored personnel carrier, and the Cavalry Fighting Vehicle, which was named the Bradley M3. Deliveries of the Bradley M2, which began in 1981, continue to this day, with more than 4,600 combat vehicles having been produced.
The main purpose of the Bradley M2 is to provide transportation of infantry units and their fire support on the battlefield.
Variants of Bradley M2
The Bradley M2 infantry fighting vehicle has undergone many stages of modernization and improvement over almost half a century of its existence and is now one of the most protected armored personnel carriers. The engineers have really managed to create a vehicle with reliable armor, improve the weapons and technical equipment of Bradley M2.
Let’s take a closer look at the Bradley M2 variants:
- Bradley M2: this is the basic model of the US infantry fighting vehicle, which was first released in 1981 and became the basis for subsequent modifications.
- Bradley M2A1: is a further development of the standard Bradley M2 vehicle with an improved launcher of the new generation TOW-2 anti-tank guided missiles. The vehicle is equipped with dynamic armor blocks and an advanced CBRN protection system.
- Bradley M2A2: developed in 1988. This variant received an upgraded Cummins VTA-903-T600 engine with a capacity of 600 hp. The vehicle has a reinforced suspension and improved armor protection. The firing holes were removed from the sides of the hull as armor panels were added. Additional blocks of dynamic armor can be installed to protect against anti-tank shells and missiles. The hull floor was reinforced with steel plates to improve mine protection, and an internal frame cladding was added. The Bradley M2A2’s frontal arch can withstand 30mm armor-piercing ammunition. The all-round fire support is provided with 14.5 mm caliber heavy machine guns. However, due to the significantly increased weight, this vehicle turned out to be underpowered. The maximum speed on the highway was 56 km/h. The range without refueling was reduced to 400 km. This also had a negative impact on off-road mobility.
- Bradley M2A2 ODS: an updated version developed in 1995. Improvements were based on the experience of combat operations during the 1991 Gulf War. The upgraded vehicles were equipped with an eye-safe laser rangefinder and a tactical navigation system with a GPS receiver. There was also an anti-missile device that could destroy first-generation manually guided missiles. Another improvement was the battlefield command information system. A thermal imaging system was installed in the driver’s seat to operate at night and in adverse weather conditions. Interior storage space was optimized and an additional seat was added. Croatia reached an agreement with the United States to purchase 89 M2A2 ODS vehicles for $196.4 million. The deal included an additional 22 vehicles for spare parts. Thus, the unit price is more than $2.2 million for a used Bradley M2A2 ODS. According to the latest information, this particular model will be delivered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so we will tell you more about it below.
- Bradley M2A3: this is a further modernized version introduced in 2002. Currently, this version of the Bradley is in service with the US Army. Most of the previous modifications of the Bradley BMP have been modernized to this standard. The BMP is equipped with a new generation of dynamic armor, a new navigation system and has some other improvements. Excessive weight also negatively affects the mobility of the vehicle, and it was not possible to integrate other capabilities because the vehicle reached the weight limit.
- The Bradley M2A4 is a further improvement of the existing Bradley IFV. It is equipped with a new engine that develops a power of 675 hp. Electronic systems have been improved. In 2018, a contract was signed to upgrade some of the old M2A2 and M2A3 BMPs to the new M2A4 standard. Deliveries of the upgraded vehicles began in 2020. In 2022, the first operational unit was equipped with modernized M2A4 Bradley vehicles. The US Army plans to upgrade more than 700 Bradleys to the M2A4 standard by 2029.
- The Bradley M3 (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle) is mainly used as a reconnaissance armored vehicle. It is operated by a crew of 3 and can accommodate 2 more scouts. Externally, this version is very similar to the Bradley M2 armored personnel carrier.
- There is also a modernized version of the short-range air defense vehicle M6 Linebacker based on the Bradley IFV, which carries four Stinger surface-to-air missiles instead of TOW ATGW. It entered service with the US Army in 1997. A total of 99 M6 Linebacker vehicles were ordered. However, in 2006, these vehicles were decommissioned due to the absence of an air threat to the US armed forces. A total of 88 M6 Linebacker vehicles were equipped with Stinger missiles and converted into standard M2A2 infantry fighting vehicles.
- Bradley M7 Forward Reconnaissance Vehicle: This variant was developed to replace the M981 Forward Reconnaissance Vehicle. The Bradley M7 is generally very similar to the M2, but the TOW anti-tank missile launcher has been replaced by target acquisition equipment and other sensors. This vehicle can localize targets at a distance of up to 20 km. It can call for artillery fire on these targets or aim high-precision munitions at them. We should also mention the M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket system on the Bradley chassis.
- The M1283 armored personnel carrier is a turretless version of the Bradley M2A3 with a different internal layout. It was developed by BAE Systems in accordance with the US Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program and was eventually adopted. This armored personnel carrier replaces the old M113A3 armored personnel carriers in service with the US Army. The basic M1283 is available in various versions.
- An interesting version of the Bradley BMP is an ambulance with a dismantled turret, which is equipped with a modified chassis. It would definitely be useful for our paramedics on the front line.
What is known about Bradley M2A2 ODS
This version of the American IFV is based entirely on the Bradley M2, so in general, this version should be discussed with emphasis on modernization.
The M2A2 Bradley AIFV (Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle) was introduced to the US Army in 1988. It is an improved version of the standard Bradley M2A1 vehicle. Improvements include the following: increased survivability of the vehicle through ammunition increase, internal armor protection for key components, spall lining and mounting for an improved smoke screen, additional armor protection for the hull and turret, ballistic shield for the commander’s backup sight, improved drivetrain and suspension. The US Army has also upgraded almost all previous Bradley M2A1s to the M2A2 standard. After Operation Desert Storm, the Bradley M2A2 was upgraded again with an eye-safe carbon dioxide laser rangefinder, a global positioning system and a compass, a combat identification system and a thermal imager for the driver.
It is known that 1423 Bradley M2A2 vehicles were upgraded to a new standard called Bradley M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm).
For a long time, these infantry fighting vehicles were only in service with the US Army, but in August 2018, the Lebanese Armed Forces received the first batch of eight Bradley M2A2 ODS infantry fighting vehicles as part of the US military assistance program to Lebanon. In December 2019, the US government announced the transfer of nearly 60 Bradley M2A2 infantry fighting vehicles in ODS configuration to Croatia, according to a statement by Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic. In June 2020, it became known that Greece was also receiving Bradley M2A2 ODS from the United States.
Bradley M2A2 ODS appearance and protection
The layout of the Bradley M2A2 ODS is similar to the standard version of the Bradley M2A2, which, in turn, received everything that is available in the basic version of the Bradley M2A1.
Thus, the Bradley M2A2 is equipped with new additional armor. Armor plates have been added to the front and side of the hull. To enhance protection, armor plates were also added to the turret. Inside, the ammunition, mines and flares were moved to the lower and rear parts of the hull to reduce the impact of enemy fire. Rigid Kevlar blankets, called spall liners, were also installed inside to keep armor fragments, bullets and shrapnel from flying around inside with devastating results. The infantry firing holes in the sides of the hull were covered with new applied armor, but two holes in the tail section were retained. The M240C machine gun now has a protective hood, and a semicircular shield was attached to the rear of the turret to add more space for equipment and to prevent the armor from being blown apart by an enemy shell.
This additional armor and internal improvements resulted in an increase in Bradley’s weight from 25 to 33 tons. The new armor protects the Bradley from 30mm APDS armor-piercing sub-caliber rounds and RPGs (or similar anti-tank weapons). The crew capacity has now been increased again to seven people, six of whom sit opposite each other in two benches of 3 people each. The seventh man sits directly behind the driver, as in the M2 or M2A1.
The Bradley M2 infantry fighting vehicle has a welded aluminum armored hull. The front arch has a spaced laminated aluminum-steel alloy structure. The initial version provided protection against 14.5-mm armor-piercing shells. Modernized versions of the BMP received full protection against ammunition of 7.62 mm to 12.7 mm caliber and artillery shell fragments. Subsequently, the level of protection was increased on all updated models. The updated vehicles are also equipped with dynamic armor units that can withstand RPG attacks. The Bradley M2 ODS is also equipped with a crew protection system against radioactive and chemical threats.
Armament of Bradley M2A2 ODS
The Bradley M2A2 ODS has exactly the same armament as the previous version of the M2A2. The armored infantry fighting vehicle is armed with a 25mm Bushmaster Chain Gun from ATK Gun Systems Company, which fires both armor-piercing and high-explosive rounds. The IFV is also equipped with a 7.62mm M240C machine gun mounted coaxially to the right of the main armament. Eight smoke grenade launchers are also mounted on the forward turret, four on each side of the main armament. The vehicle is also armed with two anti-tank missile launchers capable of firing TOW-2 missiles mounted on the left side of the turret.
The TOW-2 is equipped with a tandem warhead to penetrate tanks protected by dynamic armor. The Javelin anti-tank missile replaced the previous Dragon missile in the Bradley M2A2. It is also in its place here. It is also known that the Bradley M2A2 ODS is capable of carrying either five TOW missiles or three TOW missiles and two legendary Javelins. It is interesting that during the US military operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, Bradley armored vehicles destroyed more Iranian armored vehicles than Abrams main battle tanks.
Bradley M2A2 ODS engine and mobility
The Bradley M2A2 ODS was equipped with a new powerful Cummins VTA-903 engine, which has an output of 600 hp, as opposed to the 500 hp of the original production Bradley M2A. The increased power is necessary to cope with the increased weight of the vehicle, which has also increased to 33 tons. The updated Bradley M2A2 ODS received a new transmission, and the intake air filter was expanded to meet the requirements of the additional airflow of the more powerful engine. A larger-diameter exhaust pipe was installed and the existing air muffler was modified. Stronger torsion bars were also added to the suspension to cope with the increased weight.
The engine is located in the front. It is paired with an automatic transmission. The Bradley M2A2 ODS is an amphibious machine, which uses a swimming barrier. Swimming ability can be improved by installing inflatable buoyancy tanks. On water, the Bradley BMP is propelled by rotating tracks.
The Bradley M2A2 ODS infantry fighting vehicle is capable of reaching a speed of 56 km/h and has a maximum operational range of up to 400 km.
Additional equipment of Bradley M2A2 ODSc
The most interesting additional equipment is the new Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) command platform. This is a Situation awareness system that runs on Linux. This system allows you to track your own and enemy units on the map. All information and its collection takes place in almost real time based on updates of the location of friendly vehicles on the battlefield.
Data on the location of friendly forces is collected through the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) tactical line-of-sight radio network and the Blue Force Tracking (BFT) satellite network. Information is presented in graphical form, and data is exchanged via text messages rather than voice reports.
Interestingly, the updated version of the Bradley M2A2 ODS received a state-of-the-art ELRF laser rangefinder with a range of up to 10 km, a first-generation guided missile countermeasure system and a TACNAV tactical navigation system with a GPS receiver and digital compass.
The developers also took care of the crew of the infantry fighting vehicle. For example, they decided to replace individual seats in the airborne compartment with benches, as it turned out that it was more convenient and faster to leave the vehicle. They even took care of the system for heating rations right inside the IFV.
Specifications of Bradley M2A2 ODS
- Dimensions: length 6.55 m; width 3.28 m; height 2.97 m
- Armor: standard spaced multi-layer armor. Protection against RPGs, 30mm APDS armor-piercing sub-caliber rounds and 155mm shell fragments
- Armament: 25 mm M242 cannon, 7.62 mm M240C twin machine gun, 2 TOW launchers and 2×4 smoke grenade launchers
- Weight: in combat condition 27 tons
- Maximum speed: 56 km/h
- Operational range: 400 km
- Capacity: 3 crew members + 6 troops
- Additional equipment: CBRN protection system, night vision thermal imagers, automatic fire extinguishers.
It is currently known that about 500 Ukrainian soldiers are already undergoing training on the Bradley M2A2 ODS, which will last for a month. I am confident that such a reliable and protected infantry fighting vehicle is very necessary for our defenders. That is why we are sincerely grateful to our Western partners for their support and supply of modern weapons.
We believe in our defenders. The invaders will not escape from retribution. Death to the enemies! Glory to the Armed Forces! Glory to Ukraine!