The Bradley Fighting Vehicle Is A Military Mainstay

May 16, 2024 4 min read
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle Is A Military Mainstay

Learn what this armored off-road vehicle has in common with the A-10 Warthog…

Named after General Omar Bradley and developed during the Cold War, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle is still very much a key part of the United States Armed Forces. As a member of the U.S. Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Team, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle has been one of the staple vehicles for some time. Known for being relatively fast and maneuverable, it’s supposed to traverse all kinds of terrain with little to no trouble. What’s more, Bradleys were designed to go toe-to-toe with tanks on the battlefield, although they sometimes rely on support by staying in formation with bigger guns like the M1 Abrams.

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Most people mistake the Bradley for a tank, and that’s an easy thing to do. Even though the Bradley has a turret and treads, it’s much smaller than a battle tank and it doesn’t pack the same kind of artillery punch. It can, however, do a tank turn where the tread on one side turns one direction and the other side turns the opposite direction, allowing the vehicle to turn around completely in a zero radius. The result is extreme agility for the battlefield.

A 903ci Cummins turbodiesel produces a decent 500-horsepower but more importantly 1,200 lb.-ft. of torque. The radiator is mounted to the top of the engine, allowing mechanics to pull out everything for servicing with greater ease. An electronically controlled transmission sits in front of the engine, with the two drive axles extending out of either side. In other words, the entire drivetrain is centralized, again making maintenance and servicing easier.

The driver has a relatively simple job to learn since the Bradley isn’t too different from a car. There’s a brake pedal in the middle of the floor and the accelerator next to it. On the driver’s right side is a gated gear selector with everything labeled. Steering inputs are done through a yoke, making everything surprisingly relatively simple.

When it comes to the weapons systems, the Bradley has a few options. The main one is a 25mm M242 Bushmaster, a single-barrel chain gun with an integrated dual feed mechanism as well as a remote feed section. The gun is capable of shooting over 200 rounds a minute. Range is about 3,000 meters, depending on the ammunition used. For withering fire, an M240 machine gun is also mounted to the Bradley’s turret, firing 7.62mm rounds. There’s also an anti-tank missile launcher on the turret, which can travel up to 4 kilometers at almost Mach 1, just in case the crew encounters a tougher opponent.

While a good offense is often the best defense, the Bradley still has reactive armor, which has small charges located behind steel plates, blowing them off and away from the vehicle when enough force from something like RPG impacts. That redirects the kinetic energy away from the rest of the vehicle, plus there’s still an armored hull underneath those panels. Kevlar lining is also included under all that, just in case enemy rounds make their way through the hull. An automatic fire suppression system not too dissimilar to what you might know from motorsports is also equipped.

Some refer to the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle is often known as the Army’s battlefield taxi, although some think that doesn’t give it enough credit. With a crew of 3, it can transport up to 7 infantry soldiers, not only transporting them to necessary points on the terrain but also providing cover fire as they unload and move out. With a large rear door which folds out, soldiers can storm out the back at a run, enjoying the extra protection the vehicle provides.

As for the M3 Bradley Calvary Scout Vehicle, it’s often used by the military to check out the terrain and enemy troop movements. Since it’s quick and highly maneuverable, the M3 has excelled at this job. There are several other variants of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, showing how versatile the platform is.

During Operation Desert Storm, 2,200 Bradleys took part in battlefield operations. A mere 3 were disabled, a testament to how well they perform in hostile conditions. What’s more, during the conflict Bradleys disabled more enemy armored vehicles than did Abrams battle tanks. For Operation Iraqi Freedom, about 150 Bradleys were lost from all causes.

Upgrades have been added to the Bradley over the years. In the 21st Century it has received electronic sensors and controls. There have been several big pushes to replace the Bradley, but like the A-10 Warthog, it’s survived despite its critics’ efforts. However, there is yet another push to replace it with something called the OMFV or Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle created by Oshkosh.

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