What is M2 Bradley? What is its significance on the battlefield in Ukraine ? 

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The M2 Bradley (M2 Bradley) is an American infantry fighting vehicle developed in the 70s by FMC Corporation and subsequently manufactured by BAE Systems.

The development of the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle began in the 70s of the last century. The US military’s design was inspired by the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle developed by the Soviet Union and the Marder developed by Germany.

The M2 Bradley was developed with the flaws of Soviet and German combat vehicle designs in mind, allowing for the construction a highly defended fighting vehicle with a rapid-fire gun.

As a fundamental principle, the US military used the XM723 prototype. The prototype had certain shortcomings, which were subsequently modified to meet the American Army’s requirements, making it possible to get into service a high-quality combat vehicle with high combat characteristics.

A key feature of the developed BMP M2 Bradley was the condition for maintaining amphibiousness. Taking into account the fact that the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle weighed about 20 tons, it was very difficult to implement such an idea, but in the final version, it was nevertheless implemented.

The United States began actively using the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in 1980, although the first vehicles didn’t reach service with the Army until 1979. The M2 Bradley and M3 Bradley infantry combat vehicles have been entering service with the United States Army since 1981.

Since 1981, the M2 Bradley and M3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles began to enter service with the US Army. The M2 Bradley’s combat weight was increased to 22.5 tonnes, the number of paratroopers was lowered to 7, and the original turret was replaced with a new, twin one on which the 25-mm was positioned. 

In 2020, the M2 Bradley was widely regarded as one of the world’s most heavily armored infantry fighting vehicles.

M2 Bradley design description

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The body of the M2 Bradley is welded and made of aluminum armor, which makes the infantry fighting vehicle light, but in terms of protection, it does not make it possible to deal with direct hits of large-caliber ammunition. 

At the same time, the design of the BMP M2 Bradley allows installing additional hinged armor, which provides the ability to counter anti-tank systems, which has become a key feature of these combat vehicles in conflicts.

If necessary, the Bradley M2 combat vehicle can be equipped with a special filtration unit, making it possible to work in chemical, biological, and radiation contamination conditions.

The engine compartment of the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle is located up front. The BMP’s troop compartment is one of the main reasons for this, as it allows for the safe transportation of soldiers.

The M2 Bradley troop compartment allows you to place seven paratroopers here. At the same time, there are special prismatic devices here that provide the ability to fire directly from the troop compartment, which some combat vehicles of this type are deprived of.

An overhead hatch and a rear ramp provide access to the personnel compartment, facilitating work on aerial targets and evacuating casualties.

The M2 Bradley armored vehicle has a VTA-903T eight-cylinder four-stroke V-shaped turbodiesel that produces 500 horsepower. The M2 Bradley can reach speeds of up to 66 km/h on smooth pavement and 40 km/h on rough terrain.

The M2 Bradley is equipped with a 25-millimeter automatic gun that can fire at both ground and air targets. Due to the design qualities of the weapon, even intense firing did not result in overheating.

The M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle is also equipped with two TOW launchers, and the ammunition load of this combat vehicle includes seven missiles, which makes it possible for a highly effective fight against heavily armored vehicles, including, as shown by the experience of fighting in Syria, with T-90 tanks.

One 7.62 mm machine gun is also on the M2 Bradley. These weapons are useless because they don’t have enough ammunition.

Modifications and variants of the M2 Bradley

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The M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle exists in several different versions, some of which are quite different from each other.

  • M2 Bradley – the basic version of the infantry fighting vehicle;
  • M3 Bradley – an upgraded version, a combat reconnaissance vehicle developed based on the M2 Bradley. The key difference is a significantly increased ammunition load for the cannon and machine gun. The machine is equipped with a radar, detecting people at distances up to 1500 meters.
  • M2A1 Bradley – An upgraded version of the M2 Bradley, developed in 1986. Thanks to the use of new launchers for the TOW II ATGM, the infantry fighting vehicle has become capable of hitting T-72 and T-90 tanks, even those equipped with dynamic armor.
  • M3A1 Bradley – an upgraded version of the M3 Bradley. It has increased protection and a large number of weapons. Equipped with additional means of conducting surveillance.
  • M2A2 Bradley – an improved version of the infantry fighting vehicle, equipped with dynamic armor with guaranteed resistance to hits from 30-mm BMP-2 guns. The new defense system allows organizing an offensive even if the enemy actively uses artillery and tanks. Due to the increased mass of the combat vehicle, a new 600 hp engine was used here.
  • M3A2 Bradley – an upgraded version of the combat reconnaissance vehicle created based on the M2A2 Bradley. It is equipped with less protection than the M2A2 Bradley variant but has increased cross-country ability.
  • M2A2 ODS Bradley – an upgraded version of the M2A2 Bradley, developed taking into account the conduct of hostilities in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm.
  • M3A2 ODS Bradley – an upgraded version of the M3A2 Bradley, developed taking into account the conduct of hostilities in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm.
  • M2A3 Bradley – an upgraded version of the M2A2 Bradley, converted to digital devices, a modern fire control system, navigation aids, etc. Thanks to a modern control system, an infantry fighting vehicle can exchange data with tank units, air support units, artillery, etc.
  • M3A3 Bradley – an upgraded version of the M3A2 Bradley, converted to digital devices, a modern fire control system, navigation aids, etc. It has special devices for exchanging data with satellites, aviation, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • M2A4 Bradley – an upgraded version of the M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, equipped with an improved transmission, a more powerful engine, new digital electronics, a new fire extinguishing system, and a new IED silencer.

Among other things, there are other military vehicles based on the M2 Bradley and M3 Bradley:

  • Armored Medical Evacuation Vehicle (AMEV) – armored medical vehicle (ambulance transporter option);
  • Armored Medical Treatment Vehicle (AMTV) – armored medical vehicle (a variant of the point of medical care);
  • Battle Command Vehicle (BCV) – command and staff vehicle;
  • Bradley Command Post (BCP) – command and control vehicle and fire control vehicle;
  • Bradley General Purpose Vehicle (BGPV) – an armored personnel carrier used for reconnaissance operations;
  • Bradley Fire Support Team Vehicle (BFIST) – artillery fire control vehicle;
  • Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV) – combat reconnaissance vehicle;
  • Bradley Mortar Vehicle (BMV) – self-propelled mortar installation;
  • Engineer Bradley Fighting Vehicle (EBFV) – engineering reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle RKhBZ;
  • Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) – Infantry fighting vehicle.

As of 2023, the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle is in service with four countries:

  • USA;
  • Saudi Arabia;
  • Lebanon;
  • Ukraine.

Combat use of the M2 Bradley

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Over the years of its operation, the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles have been widely used during the Gulf War, the civil war in Iraq and Yemen, and Syria.

 These combat vehicles successfully resisted even significantly superior enemy forces thanks to their high protection. Due to the presence of many anti-tank systems in service, they were successfully used to destroy even T-72 and T-90A tanks protected by dynamic armor.

Starting from January 2023, the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles began to be delivered to Ukraine. Armed Forces of Ukraine units that relied only on the active usage of maneuverable armored combat vehicles were greatly fortified in light of their combat experience with these vehicles.

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