Spill nudged me about this post at War is Boring about the Army wanting to replace the Bradley some 38 years ago.
And of course, the movie The Pentagon Wars makes an appearance.
Thanks to the famous made-for-TV movie The Pentagon Wars, many Americans are aware of the problems with the U.S. Army’s Bradley fighting vehicle.
In 1977, Congress wanted to know if the new armored personnel carrier could survive a fight against Soviet forces in Europe. By that time, the Army had worked on the Bradley—while repeatedly changing its requirements—for years.
“The Army requires an infantry righting vehicle [and] the design of the IFV is acceptable,” concludes an Army study, which the Pentagon declassified in 2003, and recently released online at the Army’s Heritage and Education Center.
Every fighting vehicle is a compromise among several traits. Speed, survivability, protection, signature, lethality, weight, and affordability all have to be weighed in the balance. Another critical factor is time. That is, the time needed to study, propose, design, test, manufacture, and field a weapon system.
Let’s also note that the article refutes its own premise. The Army wasn’t looking to replace the Bradley even as it first started to roll off the production line. Congress was mandating the Army conduct a study. That’s a horse of a somewhat different color.
The Army asked itself back in the late 1970s and early 1980s not whether the Bradley was a perfect vehicle, but rather, is the Bradley a more effective vehicle for the threat we face than the current M113 Armored Personnel carrier?
Having served in units equipped with both, let me assure you the answer to that question was unquestionably an emphatic YES!
From the article:
The problem was that future Soviet tanks might turn the Bradleys into veritable coffins. If World War III broke out, the U.S. could face Russian armored beasts with huge main guns, long-range missiles and thick armor.
Well, duh. That’s why the Army was also fielding the M1 Abrams tank. And that snippet above also doesn’t mention that tens of thousands of BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and BTR Armored Personnel Carriers that would accompany any fleet of Soviet tanks plunging through the Fulda Gap. You know, the very BMPs and BTRs the Bradley was optimized to destroy? With the Bradleys smoking BMPs and BTRs, then the M1 tanks would be free to concentrate on killing the hordes of T-72 tanks the Army study mentioned.
The article goes on to examine possible Bradley replacements, and manages to compare them to the German Marder and other allied Infantry Fighting Vehicles. What it doesn’t quite manage to make clear to the reader is that those vehicles are very much comparable to the Bradley in terms of armor. None had the heavy, tank like armor the article implies.
The problem with installing tank like armor on an Infantry Fighting Vehicle is pretty soon, you have a tank, and the problem of fitting infantry into it is even worse than cramming dismounts into the back of a Bradley.