BFist!

So, I was driving from California to Phoenix yesterday. And was mildly surprised to see a Bradley being transported on a flatbed. I mean, I often see armor being transported, but it is usually MRAPs or FMTVs or Humvees.  There aren’t any Army units nearby so you don’t see a lot of Army vehicles.

But there it was, a Bradley. I couldn’t reach my camera, sadly. But as I got closer, I realized it wasn’t just a Bradley, but a Bradley FIST. We earlier discussed the Infantry/Artillery Team and the importance of artillery forward observers. The forward observers in a mechanized or armored company team are called the Fire Support Team, or FIST (and yes, we always called them “fisters” and giggled like schoolgirls).  For many years, the FIST was mounted on either an M113 or the M981 FIST Vehicle. But eventually, enough Bradley chassis were available to mount the fire support team on them. The biggest difference between a regular Bradley and the M7 B-FIST is that the TOW launcher has been replaced by a laser rangefinder/target designator and additional communications.

8 thoughts on “BFist!”

  1. It is amazing how much digital junk they stuff into these things. But even so, last time I was on the OP line, they still shot a round observed as “lost.” They eventually “found” it, though. New is not necessarily better. It is a great vehicle but it is only as good as the FA Guys that are crewing it.

    1. Sorry, ExKev. It was a quick in and out to meet with some folks from The Hostages. I’m going to try to get back there some time this winter and stay for a couple days. Maybe mooch some range time from a friend. I’ll most definitely let you know in advance next time.

  2. Bradley FIST? Any improvement over the M981 FISTV is a big step in the right direction. The FISTV was truly a piece of garbage. I don’t think you’ll find a FISTer out there with FISTV experience who liked the damned thing. It couldn’t keep up with tanks, its optics were far worse than what the tankers had, it couldn’t operate on the move, and was generally unreliable. A near-complete waste of money, a case study in procurement gone wrong.

    I remember seeing M1A1s hit targets on the move in Desert Storm that we couldn’t even see, let alone target for arty. There we were, the forward observers, the guys who are supposed to be able to give our tanker brethren an extra “reach out,” and we couldn’t even see their direct fire targets.

    And there was Copperhead! Another procurement fiasco. It’s was case of some “smart” committee designing a round, and then hoping there might one day be an appropriate target to kill with it. Start with the target, damnit, and make sure you don’t already have a better and cheaper means in the inventory. You really needed to be at around 3km or less to have a good kill probability, and then you had to have everything (including I think the stars) in alignment to kill the target. An M1A1 could knock that target off on the move many times over at a far lower cost before the lanyard would even be pulled.

    Here’s to many M981 FISTVs sitting INSIDE the impact area at Graf, being targeted by happy 13Fs on OP7 in their Bradley FISTs! Splash, out!

  3. Wow. I hit a hot topic.

    Esli, I was on the AT-4 range at Graf chatting with my CO when a fragment from a 155 came wizzing in and landed right at our feet.

    The Arty guys didn’t even know they’d lost a round until we called range control. I never did hear how far off target they were, but I know we came just inches from losing either the CO or me.

    1. It IS interesting. One of the reasons I started blogging was that people outside the military have no idea what life is like inside it. There are so many misconceptions about it that they have no realistic frame of reference to understand what troops go through, or how the Army does its job.

      One of the problems of being a milblogger, though, as that my audience tends to skew to the military/veteran community, and they already know whereof I speak.

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