The familiar Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle had a long and somewhat troubled design history (what weapon system hasn’t???). After several M-113 derivatives and other considerations, the Army asked FMC Corporation for something competitive with the Soviet BMP vehicles. The first prototypes, named XM-723 appeared in 1973. One of those prototypes on display at the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning (these were taken before the museum relocated).
Note the port firing weapon stations on the side. Here’s a close up view.
This early prototype lacks the TOW launcher found on later prototypes and of course the production M-2/3 Bradleys. I cannot confirm, but the turret may be an early “one man” version with a main gun and coax machine-gun. The gun may be either a 20mm or early 25mm (Forgive me for not climbing up and measuring the bore!).
The TOW addition was somewhat a reaction to reports from the Middle East wars, where anti-tank missiles had performed well. So well that some were calling into question the dominance of the main battle tank at the time.
If we look at the Bradley today, from the perspective of an ultimately successful weapon design consider a “lesson learned” if you will. In 1977, General William DePuy testified to Congress:
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 German, 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 percent increase in effectiveness and 50 percent increase in cost.
Bradley development continued over anther five years after General DePuy made that statement. Weapon development is not a simple, linear process. Still, a “good” weapon in the hands of excellently trained troops today will trump the “perfect” weapon delivered after the shooting is over.
Filed under army, infantry
Nothing like a little ‘splodey to start the day.
Sadr City is one of the infamous slums of Baghdad. Back in my day, the Army had no realistic doctrine for fighting in cities. We paid a little lip service to it, but in reality, tried very hard to avoid it. Heavy units- mech infantry, and armor, especially tried hard to avoid combat in close terrain like cities. In 7 years in mech units, I never once trained in a built up area.
Reality, however, has a tendency to intrude upon fantasy. The fact is, much of the terrain worth fighting for in large parts of the world in in the cities. American forces fighting in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities quickly learned to adapt the barebones doctrine that existed to the reality on the ground. They used the massive firepower available to them to minimize exposure to enemy fires. They quickly learned how to minimize exposure to enemy anti-armor weapons. And they learned how to integrate the fires of heavy weapons and air support with the agility of dismounted troops.
There’s a huge pool of US troops that are extremely well versed in this most difficult of fighting- city fighting.
**some NSFW langueage**
I got nuttin’ today (so far!), so I thought I’d just post some pics.
Click each to embiggen:
A lot of attention has been paid to the threat IEDs and EFPs pose to Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan. Heavier armor, jamming of cell phone signals, the CROWS weapons mount and “Rhino” countermeasures have all worked to make Humvees more survivable in an IED environment. Also, moving from Humvees to MRAPs for some missions has increased troop survivability.
Still, IEDs aren’t the only threat Humvees and similar vehicles face. One of the most common weapons on the battlefield is the RPG, or Rocket Propelled Grenade. An RPG is a pretty simple weapon. It’s basically a HEAT warhead with a rocket motor to push it along, all fired from a simple tube. Our guys use a similar weapon, the AT-4, which is a disposable, one shot weapon. The RPG is reloadable.
The RPG is a real threat to light vehicles like Humvees, MRAPs, and even Strykers and Bradleys. Its HEAT warhead can penetrate the armor of just about any armored vehicle short of a main battle tank like the M-1. An RPG hit on a Humvee will often result in death or injury to the entire crew and a catastrophic loss of the vehicle.
So how do you defend a vehicle like the Humvee from RPGs? They are too small to carry explosive reactive armor or an anti-RPG cage. You can’t keep adding additional armor. The chassis just won’t take that much weight.
Well, for a couple decades, the armies of the world have been exploring “active defense” against RPGs (and similar HEAT warheads). Using a radar sensor to detect an incoming round, the active defense would instantly and automatically react to fire a projectile to impact with the warhead. Two big problems have always existed with this. One, the sensors and controls just haven’t been practical until the recent improvements in electronics. Secondly, having a vehicle that routinely has troops (and innocent bystanders) nearby suddenly start shooting off explosives is kinda unsafe. Recently, Artis LLC, in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) came up with a system called Iron Curtain that uses a combination of advanced sensors, downward firing countermeasures, and special explosives and projectiles to field a system that can defeat RPG rounds without posing a great risk to dismounted personnel.
The system probably won’t be ready for service for another year or so, but can potentially be a great aid in saving the lives of troops.
No real point to it, just liked the video and thought I’d share. It’s rare to see training footage using service ammo.
We love posting YouTube videos. Mostly because it is easier than writing, but also because the truth about a picture being worth a thousand words.
By far the funnest, and most rewarding job I had in the Army was as a Bradley Commander. While life wasn’t exactly like the video (somehow, the videos don’t spend a lot of time showing Brads on the washrack in the winter…), it had its moments. I had a couple pleasant flashbacks to fun on the range and out in the boonies.
We’ll be out of town the next day or two, so no posting. Sorry.
In the interim, here’s a little something to tide you over. Our best tour in the Army was in the 4th Infantry Division, rising to the position of a section leader for a section of two Bradleys. In garrison, we were responsible for the crews, training, and maintenance of both vehicles. In the field, the Platoon Leader took command of the other Bradley, and we worked as his wingman. Here’s a good look at some of the firepower and mobility of a Bradley. Lots of nice shots of the 25mm and the TOW missile system.
There’s some obvious Iraq footage, and some from operational units, but a lot of the footage seems to come from the 29th Infantry at Ft. Benning. The 29th is the demonstration unit at the Infantry School. They provide the vehicles for basic training for infantrymen, and troops for young infantry officers at school to practice with. They also periodically provide firepower demonstrations to VIPs to show what the taxpayers are getting for their money.