The Bradley was first designed in the 1960s as replacement for the M113 APC, and as a counter to the newly developed Soviet BMP-1, the world's first infantry fighting vehicle. Like the BMP, the M2 was equipped with a heavy main gun - in this case a rapid-firing chaingun capable of destroying or at the very least crippling tanks - as well as a twin TOW anti-tank missile launcher. It also provided firing ports for the six infantrymen carried inside, and is protected by significant amounts of armor for an armored personnel carrier - yet has no problem keeping pace with the M1 Abrams battle tank. Since its introduction in 1981, the Bradley has spawned a number of variants, including the M3 Cavalry fighting vehicle, M6 Linebacker SAM system, and has served as the chassis for the MLRS rocket launcher.
However, despite its current success, the M2 suffered some significant development problems. Design of the machine was incredibly slow and extrodinarily expensive, and the early prototypes were plagued with numerous mechanical and safety problems - a series of mishaps and subsequent infighting that has been chronicled in Lt. Col. James Burton's book The Pentagon Wars, which later became a TV movie starring Kelsey Grammer. While the additionof the chaingun and TOW launcher gave the Bradley greater firepower and thus greater mission flexibility, it severely curtailed the number of troops that could be carried. And in the first Gulf War, the vehicle's profile was so similar to the BMPs it was meant to challenge that nearly twenty were lost to friendly fire.
Today, operations in Iraq have demonstrated that the M2 is still vulnerable to mobility attacks by RPGs and roadside bombs. However, crew and passenger casualties have extremely light, a testament to the Bradley's armor protection.
M2 Bradley IFV Vehicle Stats:
Type: Infantry fighting vehicle
Manufacturer: United Defense LP
First deployed: 1981
Crew: 3 + 6 passengers
Length: 6.55 m
Width: 3.61 m
Height: 2.98 m
Weight: 25 tons
Armament, primary: 1 x 25mm Bushmaster M242 chain gun
Armament, secondary: 1 x 7.62mm FN-Browning M240 machinegun, 2 x Hughes BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile launcher
Ammo stowage, primary: 900 rounds
Ammo stowage, secondary: 2,200 rounds 7.62mm, 7 TOW missiles
Powerplant: Cummins VTA-903T 500hp turbocharged 8-cylinder water-cooled diesel engine
Max speed: 66 km/h
Max range: 483km
Operators: Saudi Arabia and USA