Mother of the Bradley

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.

11 thoughts on “Mother of the Bradley”

  1. I’m fairly certain that’s a 20mm cannon, probably an M139. IIRC, the M242 was a rather late addition to the armament suite on the Brad.

    And I think that particular MICV was one that was in front of the J. Lawton Collins building back in ’93. But I could be mistaken. I don’t recall the Infantry Museum having a MICV back then, though.

  2. Seeing DePuy’s name brought to mind the chain of command I had to know when I was in preflight at Rucker. I had know every name from my TAC to the President. I hadn’t seen his name since the late 70s.

  3. So, anyone know if the weapon to be used in the firing port was the M231 of Bradley fame, or some other weapon?

    1. I can’t quite tell. But I’m sure you and I have the same high regard for the M231.

      Unlike the vast majority of 11Ms, I’ve actually fired one from the firing port!

    2. According to documentation about the project which aired during the long running congressional inquiries, the XM-723 used the M231. DePuy mentions the original MICV (and I have a post up my sleeve somewhere here). The PFW was developed during that project, when (duh!) the team realized that a full sized M-16 was hard to wield inside an APC.

Comments are closed.