Armoured Fighting Vehicle M2/M3 Bradley

Armoured Fighting Vehicle M2/M3 Bradley

Bradley armoured fighting vehicle is manufactured by BAE Systems Land & Armaments (formerly United Defence) and includes the M2 infantry fighting vehicle and the M3 cavalry fighting vehicle.

The vehicle is in service with the armies of the US and Saudi Arabia. Since 1981, 6,720 vehicles of both types have been fielded.

The role of the M2 infantry fighting vehicle is to transport infantry on the battlefield, to provide fire cover to dismounted troops, and to suppress enemy tanks and fighting vehicles. The M2 carries a commander, gunner and driver, plus six fully equipped infantry men.

The M3 performs scout missions and carries three crew plus two scouts.

Bradley M2A3 / M3A3 upgrade programme

The US Army A3 Bradley upgrade programme includes improvements based on operational experience in the Gulf War. The first low-rate initial production M2A3 / M3A3 Bradley was delivered in November 1998 and entered service in April 2000. The system was approved for full-rate production in May 2001.

The upgrade of 120 vehicles (80 M2A3, 29 M3A3 and 11 A3 BFIST fire support) was ordered in February 2005, and in June 2005, a contract for the upgrade of an additional 450 vehicles to A3 standard was placed.

Over 3,390 vehicles had been upgraded by October 2010.

In October 2010, BAE Systems was awarded a $91m contract to replace the old and damaged systems of the 552 Bradley vehicles of the US Army.

The US Army placed a $250m contract in November 2010 to procure long-lead items for 247 Bradley Operation Desert Storm Situational Awareness (ODS-SA) vehicle conversion kits.

A total of 202 kits have been used for the conversion of Bradley ODS vehicles to the Bradley ODS-SA configuration and remaining will be retained for future vehicle conversions. A further $270m contract was awarded for the conversion of 245 ODS-SA vehicles in October 2011.

BAE Systems received a $47m contract to update 95 Bradley vehicles with new equipment and technology in February 2011.

In August 2006, a follow on contract was awarded for 96 vehicles (57 M2A3, 16 A3 BFIST and 22 A2 ODS BFIST) and, in November 2006, for 610 vehicles (490 A3 and 120 A2ODS). In July 2007, a further 172 vehicles (108 A2, 60 A3, four BFIST) were contracted. The US Army’s requirement is for 2,545 upgraded Bradley A3 vehicles.

The upgrade includes the improved Bradley acquisition system (IBAS) for the TOW missile from DRS Technologies and commander’s independent thermal viewer (CITV), from Raytheon which use second-generation thermal imagers derived from the US Army’s horizontal technology initiative (HTI). The imagers are based on a 480×4 scanning infrared focal plane array.

The IBAS also has day TV and direct view optics, automatic dual target tracking, eyesafe laser rangefinder and a two-axis stabilised head mirror. The thermal imaging DRS Technologies driver’s vision enhancer (DVE), ANVAS-5, uses a 320×240 uncooled ferroelectric scanning array.

A combat identification system is being installed. The electronics system includes a databus with central processors and digital information displays for commander, driver and squad leader.

Bradley urban survivability kit (BUSK)

Under a contract awarded in January 2008, BAE Systems supplied 952 Bradley urban survivability kits (BUSK). BUSK includes: high-powered, hand-held directional spotlight, sight protection for the turret external optics consisting of a mesh encased in a steel frame and a lightweight, non-conductive ‘dome tent’ structure to protect turret and crew from low-hanging electrical power lines.

“The Bradley vehicle system includes the M2 infantry-fighting and the M3 cavalry-fighting vehicles.”

A commander’s light automatic weapon (CLAW), a 5.56mm light machine gun integrated with the A3 fire control system and fired under armour, is under development for the BUSK, as well as additional armour to counter the effects of mines and improvised explosive devices (IED).

Syracuse Research Corporation is supplying CREW-2 electronic warfare systems for 1691 Bradley vehicles. CREW-2 is designed to jam remotely controlled IEDs to prevent the detonation of roadside bombs.

Under contracts placed in October 2008, BUSK also included fire detection/suppression systems and advanced survivability seats.


In June 2004, DRS Technologies was awarded a contract to provide systems, including rugged appliqué computers, for the M2A3 Bradley and M1A2 Abrams tanks as part of the US Army’s Force XXI battle command, brigade and below (FBCB2) programme.

FBCB2 is a digital battle command information system, which provides enhanced interoperability and situation awareness from brigade to individual soldier that will be used in conjunction with the Army’s tactical internet.

Fire control and observation

The gunner is equipped with a Raytheon integrated sight unit (ISU) which includes a day / thermal sight of magnification ×4 and ×12. An optical relay provides the image of the gunner’s sight to the commander.

The gunner also has periscopes for forward and side observation. A daytime sight system for the gunner or commander is provided as backup to the primary sight.

The driver is equipped with three forward periscopes plus one periscope to the left. The central periscope can be replaced with the Northrop Grumman (formerly Litton) AN/VVS-2 driver’s night viewer with a 25mm second-generation image intensifier. Upgraded M2 Bradleys are equipped with the DRS Technologies driver’s vision enhancer (DVE).

Armament of Bradley M2/M3

The main armament is an ATK Ammunition Systems (formerly Boeing Ordnance) 25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun. The M242 has a single barrel with an integrated dual feed mechanism and remote feed selection.

Single or multiple shot mode can be selected by the gunner. The standard rate of fire is 200 rounds a minute but the gun is optionally converted to 500 rounds a minute. An M240C 7.62mm machine gun is mounted coaxially to right of the Bushmaster.

The M2 Bradley is equipped with the Raytheon TOW BGM-71 anti-tank missile system. The twin-tube TOW launcher is mounted on the left of the turret. The target is tracked using an optical sight, which detects the infrared signal from the back of the missile in flight.

A double-wire command link between the missile and the gunner is dispensed from two spools at the back of the missile. The launcher sends flight correction data to the guidance system on the missile via the command link. The range of the TOW missile is 3.75km.

Bradley M2/M3 self-protection

The Bradley is equipped with two M257 smoke grenade dischargers, each loaded with four smoke grenades. It is also fitted with an engine smoke-generating system.

The hull of the M2 Bradley is constructed of welded aluminium and spaced laminate armour. In addition, the M2A2 / M3A2 Bradleys have appliqué steel armour with provision for additional passive armour or explosive reactive armour (ERA).

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products has developed an enhanced-capability reactive armour package for the Bradley. 150 sets have been delivered and a follow-on contract for 168 sets was placed in July 2005.

Rafael Armament Development Authority, Ordnance Systems, of Haifa, Israel, is sharing 50% of the production.

The ERA consists of 96 tiles fixed to the sides, turret and front of the vehicle, which enhance protection against a variety of anti-armour munitions including shoulder-launched rocket propelled grenades (RPG).

In September 2008, BAE Systems was awarded a contract to install improvised explosive device (IED) mine armour on 433 Bradley M2/M3 vehicles. Under a $62m contracts placed in April 2011, the vehicle will be fitted with energy absorbing seats, laser designation and other survivability systems.


The Bradley is equipped with a VTA-903T engine from Cummins Engine Co of Colombus, Indiana. The hydromechanical transmission HMPT-500 from Combat Propulsion Systems, a Division of L-3 Communications, provides three-speed ranges. The engines provide a maximum speed of 66km/h.

All Bradleys are amphibious. Earlier models are equipped with a water barrier, which is fitted by the crew before entering the water. A3 models have an inflatable pontoon which fits on the front and sides of the vehicle. Water propulsion is provided by tracks and the Bradley can attain a maximum speed of 7.2km/h in water.

Variants M2


The M2 was the basic production model, first fielded in 1981. The M2 can be identified by its standard TOW missile system, steel laminate armor, and 600 horsepower (450 kW) Cummins VT903 engine with HMPT-500 Hydro-mechanical transmission. Basic features also included an integrated sight unit for the M242 25 mm gun, and thermal imaging system. The M2 was amphibious with the use of a “swim barrier” or “flotation screen” and was transportable by C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy aircraft. All M2 vehicles have been upgraded to improved standards. The M2 armor protects the vehicle through a full 360 degrees against 14.5 mm armor-piercing incendiary (API) ammunition.

The turret was offset to the right to maximize the room in the passenger compartment. Six infantry soldiers for dismounted fighting were held in the passenger compartment. Vision for the troops was provided through three periscopes placed between the rear ramp and the cargo hatch just behind the turret, as well as two periscopes on each side of the hull above the side firing ports. The passenger compartment also held up to five TOW or Dragon missile reloads. The side and rear hull armor consisted of two 0.25 in (6.4 mm) steel plates one inch apart and 3.5 in (89 mm) away from the aluminum armor. The hull top, bottom, and front consisted of 5083 aluminum armor, and 0.357 in (9.1 mm) steel armor was added to the front third of the hull bottom to increase mine protection.


Introduced in 1986, the A1 variant included an improved TOW II missile system, a Gas Particulate Filter Units (GPFU) NBC system, and a fire-suppression system. By 1992, the M2A1s had begun being remanufactured to upgraded standards. The GPFU system was only connected to the vehicle commander, driver, and gunner, while the infantry squad had to use their own from MOPP suits. A seventh infantryman was also added just behind the center of the turret.


Introduced in 1988, the A2 received an improved 600 horsepower (447 kW) engine with an HMPT-500-3 Hydromechanical transmission and improved armor (both passive and the ability to mount explosive reactive armor). The new armor protects the Bradley against 30 mm APDS rounds and RPGs (or similar anti-armor weapons). The new armor also eliminated the trim vane that made the Bradley amphibious and covered up the side firing ports. Spaced laminate armor was installed to the hull rear and spaced laminate track skirts protected the lower hull. A semicircular shield was attached to the turret rear to add more stowage space as well as act as spaced armor. Kevlar spall liners were added to critical areas. The troop carrying number was reduced to six, eliminating the periscope position behind the driver. After live firing testing, the seating and stowage arrangements were redrawn. These upgrades raised the cumulative gross weight of the vehicle to 30,519 kg (67,282 lb (30.037 long tons; 33.641 short tons)).[citation needed] The M2A2 was qualified to be transported by the C-17 Globemaster III. M2A2s were all eventually modified to M2A2 ODS or M2A3 standard.


The “Operation Desert Storm” and “Operation Desert Storm-Engineer” improvements were based on lessons learned during the first Gulf War in 1991. The major improvements included an eye-safe laser rangefinder (ELRF), a tactical navigation system (TACNAV) incorporating the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) and the Digital Compass Systems (DCS), a missile countermeasure device designed to defeat first-generation wire-guided missiles, and the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) Battlefield Command Information System. The internal stowage was further improved and a thermal imaging system was added for the driver. The infantry squad was again increased to seven men, six of whom sat facing each other on two 3-man benches in the passenger compartment, with the seventh back in the position behind the turret. An MRE (‘Meal, Ready-to-Eat’) heater was added to the vehicle to assist in the preparation of food while in the field or warzone. With the retirement of the Dragon missile, the vehicle had the option of carrying some Javelin anti-tank missiles.


Introduced in 2000, the A3 upgrades make the Bradley IFV totally digital, with upgraded or improved existing electronics systems throughout improving target acquisition and fire control, navigation, and situational awareness. Also, the survivability of the vehicle is upgraded with a series of armor improvements, again both passive and reactive, as well as improved fire-suppression systems and NBC equipment.

The A3 Bradley incorporates the Improved Bradley Acquisition Subsystem (IBAS) and the Commander’s Independent Viewer (CIV). Both include a second-generation forward looking infrared (FLIR) and an electro-optical/TV imaging system, and the IBAS also has direct-view optics (DVO) and the eye-safe laser rangefinder (ELRF). The CIV allows the commander to scan for targets and maintain situational awareness while remaining under armor and without interfering with the gunner’s acquisition and engagement of targets.

The A3’s fire control software (FCSW) combines laser range, environmental readings, ammunition type, and turret control inputs to automatically elevate the gun for range and to automatically generate a kinematic lead solution if a target is moving. This functionality, very similar to that of the M1A2 Abrams, allows the gunner or commander to center the reticule on a moving target, lase the target, and achieve a first-round-hit, without the need to fire sensing rounds and adjust aim. The FCSW incorporates a thermal aided target tracker (ATT) function that can track two targets in the FLIR field of view and switch between them, primarily intended for employing TOW missiles against moving vehicles. The FCSW also allows the turret and gunner’s sights to be slewed automatically onto a target that has been designated with the CIV.

The A3 Bradley uses a position-navigation subsystem that incorporates a global positioning system (GPS), an inertial navigation unit (INU), and a vehicle motion sensor (MVS), which, in addition to allowing accurate own-vehicle navigation, allows accurate position reporting and hand-off of designated targets to other units via FBCB2.

The Commander’s Tactical Display (CTD) presents information from FBCB2 and the vehicle navigation systems on a moving-map display, allows the commander to communicate via text over FBCB2, and allows him to check vehicle built-in test (BIT) information and access various other information. The Squad Leader’s Display (SLD) in the infantry compartment improves the situational awareness of the passengers by allowing them to view navigational information from FBCB2 and imagery from the IBAS, CIV, or Driver’s Vision Enhancer (DVE) to familiarize themselves with their surroundings prior to dismounting.

The M2A3 Bradley II, and an M2A3 Bradley variant used in Iraq, were included in the GCV Analysis of Alternatives.


After the Iraq War, the Army began researching engineering change proposals (ECPs) for the M2 Bradley to buy back space, weight, power, and cooling capacity reduced by the addition of armor and electronics hastily added during combat. ECP1 will work to restore mobility and allow the vehicle to handle more weight. As weight increased, the Bradley got lower on its suspension, which reduced ground clearance. This decreased mobility on rough terrain and left it more vulnerable to IEDs. The effort will install lighter tracks, shock absorbers, a new suspension support system, and heavy weight torsion bars. ECP2 will restore automotive power with a larger engine, a new transmission, and a smart-power management system for better electrical power distribution to accept future networked tactical radio and battle command systems The first Bradleys upgraded with ECP1 were fielded in mid-2015, and the first to be upgraded with ECP2 will begin fielding in 2018. Vehicles that receive both the ECP1 and ECP2 upgrade will be designated A4.

On June 14, 2018 BAE Systems Land and Armaments was awarded a contract to produce up to 164 M2A4 and M7A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicles using existing M2A3, M7A3 and M2A2 ODS-SA Bradleys.The M2A4 is equipped with an enhanced drivetrain, more powerful engine, new digitized electronics, a new fire suppression system, and a new IED jammer.

Variants M3


This model is essentially a re-stowed M2 Bradley. The passenger compartment was occupied by two observers and more ammunition and missiles. Because it did not carry a squad, the firing ports were covered. The M3 retained the three periscopes between the cargo hatch and entry ramp and the periscopes along the left side of the vehicle, while those on the right side were covered over as they would have been inaccessible due to the TOW missile stowage rack.


The M3A1 variant introduced a gas particulate filter system for NBC threats. Unlike the M2A1 Bradley, the NBC masks connected to the central filter for all five crewmen, instead of just the driver, gunner, and vehicle commander. This variant also introduced a fire suppression system. The three periscopes on the rear deck were omitted on the M3A1, and replaced by four periscopes in the cargo hatch itself.


The M3A2 incorporated enhanced armor upgrades, such as the ability to mount explosive reactive armor, from the M2A2 Bradley. After live fire testing, seating and ammunition stowage arrangements were also changed, with the observers moved to a bench on the left side of the vehicle and the missile stowage rearranged to enhance safety. After the Gulf War, other improvements including an eye-safe carbon dioxide laser rangefinder, global positioning system and compass, missile countermeasure device, combat identification system, and thermal viewer for the driver were incorporated into the M3A2-ODS.


The M3A3 model of the Bradley uses enhanced information and communication equipment, a central processing unit, and information displays for the vehicle commander and squad leader. The M3A3 is compatible with the inter-vehicular communication system of the M1A2 Abrams tank and AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter. The commander has an independent thermal viewer and a new integrated sight unit called the Improved Bradley Acquisition System (IBAS), which allows automatic gun adjustments, automatic boresighting, and tracking of dual targets. The roof is reinforced with titanium armor. Many M3A3s were converted from M3A2s.


Mass 27.6 tonnes (30.4 short tons)
Length 21.49 ft (6.55 m)
Width 11.82 ft (3.6 m)
Height 9.78 ft (2.98 m)
Crew 3 (commander, gunner, driver)
Passengers 6 (7 in M2A2 ODS/M2A3)

  • Spaced laminate armor offering 14.5 mm all around protection. Hull base is 7017 aluminum.
  • 25 mm M242 chain gun (900 rounds)
  • 2 × TOW anti-tank missile (7 missiles)
7.62 mm coaxial M240C machine gun (2,200 rounds)
Engine Cummins VTA-903T 8-cylinder diesel
600 hp (447 kW)
Power/weight 16.18 kW/tonne (21.7 hp/tonne)
Suspension torsion bar
483 km or 300 mi
Maximum speed 56 km/h or 35 mph; 40 km/h off-road; 7.2 km/h in water


  • Lebanon – 32 M2A2 .
  • Saudi Arabia – 400 M2.
  • United States Army: 2.500 M2 & 1200 M3 active.
Armoured Fighting Vehicle M2/M3 Bradley
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Armoured Fighting Vehicle M2/M3 Bradley
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