Wish List


In the comments of our Bradley gallery below, frequent commenter GaigeM asks what I would like to see added to the Bradley:

If you could improve that Brad in any way, how would you? Trying to get a feel for what would be the next generation of AFV/IFV (with symmetrical warfare in mind).

Well…

Gaige, most of the improvements I’d like to see have been made. My biggest heartburn (as a dismount) was the seating in the back. It made sense when the Army thought the Firing Port Weapons would be important. But they were almost never used. Keeping the complex seating into the A2 variant, which only had the ramp weapons, was lunacy. In any event, the ODS variant introduced bench seating that made a lot of sense.

Improvements to the fire control system went far beyond what I thought it really needed. A laser rangefinder was nice, in that several Brads took TOW shots at targets beyond max range. That was never really a problem with the gun. Now, the fire control system, with a LRF and a lead-generating computer ensure first round hits, in a system comparable to the M1’s fire control. This never struck me as terribly important when the main gun is an auto-cannon. The addition of a Commander’s Independent Thermal Vision sight, with its ability to hand-off targets is very nice. I just wish there was a more elegant place to put it than sticking up like an afterthought.

As for the comm/nav/C3 installation (either BFT or FCBC2), that’s pretty neat, what little I know if it, and I especially like that there is a panel in back for the squad leader to gain situational awareness. In the bad old days, there were theoretically headsets for the dismounts to listen to the intercom, both for fire commands for the FPWs, and to maintain situational awareness, but they never worked (if you plugged them in, they tended to drain so much signal strength that the driver couldn’t hear the intercom, or even the crew in the turret). Even if they did work, it’s a poor substitute for a visual presentation. After all, seeing is believing.

For the hull, we’re rapidly approaching the max weight we can add without suffering some serious drawbacks in performance. We’ve already souped up the engine from the original 500hp to 600hp, just to keep the nominal speed up to 42mph. As a result, you aren’t going to be able to add a lot in the way of armor. Some critics have complained that the Brad’s armor won’t stop anti-tank weapons. That’s not the point. The point is that very few anti-tank weapons will cause a catastrophic loss of the vehicle so quickly that the crew doesn’t have time to escape. To date, the Army has written off 55 Brads in Iraq. That’s an entire battalion’s worth, but it would be interesting to know just how many were casualties. I suspect it is pretty low, especially compared to Humvees.

As for the armament, might as well get rid of the last two FPWs in the ramp, if they haven’t already.  I used to wish there was a commander’s weapon on a cupola around his hatch, but now I’m undecided. I’ve heard that some Brads have had the TOW system replaced with a two-round Javelin launcher, so they can “fire and forget.” That trades a little range and lethality for the ability to shift targets faster. Not sure I’d want to see the whole fleet go that way (I’d rather see Javelin seekers built into a TOW body instead), nor even sure how many have had this done. It may just be a test program. Can’t think of any changes to the co-ax I’d like.

As for the main gun, the 25mm Bushmaster… It’s pretty long in the tooth. I’d really like to see it replaced with something along the lines of the 4omm on a CV-90.  Failing that, I’d at least like to see the 30mm MK46 chain-gun. But you can’t just throw one in a turret and slap it on a Bradley. There’s a relationship to gun size and turret ring diameter, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to enlarge the turret ring diameter on a Bradley hull to fit it.  Now, you mentioned this in the context of a next-generation vehicle, I think it’s pretty likely we’ll see a bigger gun. In the next-gen vehicle, we’ll also likely see a greater electrical generation capacity. And a battery charger.

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17 Comments

Filed under armor, army, ARMY TRAINING, guns, infantry, iraq, Personal, war

17 responses to “Wish List

  1. Potosi Joel

    Wings?

    To overcome the lift (in)capabilities of the MV22, the Bradley wing kit would allow one or more Bradley to become airborne while in tow of a Osprey or Spartan transport…. lift lift lift, all you need is wing area. tahdah Gliderborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle!

    Afterwards Chase/Fairchild could be resurrected to develop the stealthy, powered flight version of the Bradley…..self-deployable from LHAs? hmmmm. no it would have be catapult launch/arrested landing while at sea.

  2. ^ Heh!

    Bit of C-123 snark thrown in for free as well, I see.

  3. Of course, if we put wings on it, we’ll have to have two warrant officers on each. Which means we’ll also have to install a coffee maker.

  4. GaigeM

    ^ Haha!

    Is it true the British Challenger has a tea kettle installed?

  5. I’ve never heard that. But today’s Bradleys have a mounted ration heater. Of course, we never had a problem heating them before that.

  6. And there really was a serious discussion about whether the M1 should have a coffee pot.

  7. GaigeM

    I imagine it’d be nice to have the ability to brew some better coffee than that Folgers in a stick crap that comes in the MREs… Okay, got a couple more questions:

    “My biggest heartburn (as a dismount) was the seating in the back. It made sense when the Army thought the Firing Port Weapons would be important. But they were almost never used.”

    I understand the purpose of the Firing Port Weapons: close-in defense of the vehicle against enemy dismounts. But why overcomplicate the system? To me, the easiest way to address that issue would be a strip of claymores on the side of the vehicle, with a command detonation panel available to the TC. Anything like this ever been considered?

    “The addition of a Commander’s Independent Thermal Vision sight, with its ability to hand-off targets is very nice. I just wish there was a more elegant place to put it than sticking up like an afterthought.”

    Would the front slope of the armor work? I imagine they stuck it on top so it could have 360 degree view though.

    “I’ve heard that some Brads have had the TOW system replaced with a two-round Javelin launcher, so they can “fire and forget.” That trades a little range and lethality for the ability to shift targets faster.”

    Why is the TOW so much more lethal? Bigger warhead? Higher velocity? Doesn’t the Javelin’s top-down attack mode make it more lethal?

    Some closing thoughts…. In John Ringo’s Posleen War series, one of the handful of nations to survive intact is the US. By the end of the war, an IFV based off the Abrams chassis was going into production. Power plant moved to the front, with a low profile turret sporting a 30mm autocannon (I think they hinted they used mothballed Apache guns in the first production run).

    And in the recent WWIII real-time tactical game EndWar, the American IFV was the Fastback. It used a 30mm autocannon so it could have ammo and parts commonality with the next-gen attack chopper.

    Thanks a lot for posting this! It’s been my opinion for a couple years that Congress needs to form a panel of NCOs, warrants, and senior chiefs, and have them make recommendations on procurement. I think things would be a lot less FUBAR than they are now.

  8. jenn1964

    The Challenger does have a teapot. There was a show on discovery where the showed it.

    When I was in back in the 80’s we had the original MREs. There were no ration heaters in the boxes. You had to use the triox tabs and an canteen cup to heat water and rehydrate your pork or beef patty. I would have killed for a hot water source at times.

  9. If I had the opportunity to change one thing on the Brad, and it’s been 16 years since I’ve been on one, so maybe this has already changed, but I’d put the fuel lines from the tanks in a less vulnerable place.

  10. OK, big answer time:

    To me, the easiest way to address that issue would be a strip of claymores on the side of the vehicle, with a command detonation panel available to the TC. Anything like this ever been considered?

    I’ve seen M113s used as guard vehicles in prison compounds with claymores mounted outside. But most of the impetus to use FPWs was because the BMP had firing ports. Of course, the Army took a simple idea and made it about 10 times more complicated than the BMP. As to the claymores, I think the “one shot” part and the possibility of safety issues mitigated against using them.

    Would the front slope of the armor work? I imagine they stuck it on top so it could have 360 degree view though.

    Correct. Unlike the M1, which was designed from the start to have a CITV, it was purely an afterthought on the Brad, and finding any place to put one was something of a challenge.

    Why is the TOW so much more lethal? Bigger warhead? Higher velocity? Doesn’t the Javelin’s top-down attack mode make it more lethal?

    Bigger, heavier warhead. Velocity has no effect on the lethality of a HEAT warhead (or a blast/frag, for that matter). There are also top-attack warheads in the TOW family. Plus TOWs have a good deal longer range. The only drawback on the TOW is having to track the target.

    an IFV based off the Abrams chassis was going into production. Power plant moved to the front, with a low profile turret sporting a 30mm autocannon (I think they hinted they used mothballed Apache guns in the first production run).

    Building an IFV based on an MBT may sound like a good idea, but there’s no free lunch. You have a vehicle that is much larger and heavier for a given number of dismounts, is far, far more expensive to build, required much more fuel (with the attendant logistical headaches), and in the end, is still vulnerable to some weapons. As to the Apache’s 30mm cannon, it is a low velocity gun, which means it can’t really use a kinetic penetrator round to defeat armor, and would have a fairly short range. The 30mm on the Marines EFV is a much different gun than the Apache’s 30mm. The Apache’s gun was designed more to destroy trucks, suppress troops, and take out 12.7mm anti-aircraft guns than to engage other EFVs. Go back and click the link to the youtube vid. That 40mm is a pretty good gun (the L70 gun has been around longer than I have).

    Thanks a lot for posting this! It’s been my opinion for a couple years that Congress needs to form a panel of NCOs, warrants, and senior chiefs, and have them make recommendations on procurement. I think things would be a lot less FUBAR than they are now.

    I was pretty pleased with most of the equipment we had. The stuff that used to really piss me off was personal gear, and a lot of that seems to have gotten much, much better in the last 8 years. And the Army has long used troops pretty early in the testing process of a lot of equipment to see if what works in the lab, works in the field. And not all officers are complete boneheads (waves to Jonn).

    Jenn, I remember the same series of MREs (had them for about 6 years!). And in the Army, we practices noise and light discipline, so we couldn’t use the triox tabs. Enjoy your cold meal!

    Jonn, I can’t recall exactly where the fuel lines run, but they run under armor. As long as you run them under armor, shifting them just changes the threat of which weapon will hit them.

  11. MRE’s… I would’ve killed for an MRE back in the 70’s. We got C-rations, in the green cans, at Fort Knox, ’74. Heated up in a trash can full of water setting on top of an oil burner rig. Jonn prolly remembers those.

    They had a second steel trash can, again on a burner, full of water for coffee. After everyone got a heated entree and a cup of water for coffee, they dumped soap flakes into one of the cans to wash your cup out in, and then use the other to rinse it off with.

    Elegantly simple solution, that.

    respects,

  12. Tim,

    I had C-rats a few times as a kid. Not to bad compared to the early MREs.

    As to the immersion heaters, I’m quite well acquainted with them. We never used them to heat rations, but the battalion cooks used them to heat water to wash the mermite cans.

    And of course, during Desert Storm, we used on to make a hot water shower. Heating the water was easy. Lugging the water from the water buffalo and up to the top of the shower was a flaming PITA.

  13. Seems to me that they could use the same system for MRE’s. Just dump the entree pack into the hot water for 15 minutes. Voila! Hot meals… so to speak :)

  14. Tim, there’s a flameless heater in each MRE. No need for dumping it in water.

  15. GaigeM

    Might be a good way to prepare a bunch at once though. Save on those ration heaters for when you genuinely need a heat source without flame or smoke.

  16. If you can prepare a bunch of meals at once, why eat an MRE? Go with the UGR or an “A-Ration”

  17. Pingback: Son of FCS | Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid