About that War is Boring Article on the Bradley…

Spill nudged me about this post at War is Boring about the Army wanting to replace the Bradley some 38 years ago.

The U.S. Army Wanted to Replace the Bradley 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.

The Bradley would enter service. But now legislators wanted plans for a better design that could be ready within the decade.

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.

“In the 1987 time frame, the Warsaw Pact 130-division force … would contain more than 34,000 tanks, the majority being T-72s, with a good proportion of the successor tank,” the Army’s study warns.


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.

14 thoughts on “About that War is Boring Article on the Bradley…”

    1. Not just the A-10s. Don’t forget MLRS, tube artillery with DPICM, FASCAM, and a whole host of of other anti-armor weapon systems intended to disrupt Soviet armored formations.

  1. …and AH-64’s and even that famous “trip wire” 82d Airborne Division with its DJMP’s (Dragon Jump Missile Packs). One guy with an anti-tank missile plus the aforementioned anti-tank weapons systems and that can lead to many smoking OPFOR vehicular hulks.

  2. Call me crazy, but I am a fan of the Bradley. I don’t like TC’ing them, but I like having them in the force. I’d like them more if they weren’t so heavy now that they are starting to turn into dogs,but they are doing okay.

  3. I have never had the opportunity to look inside a Bradley, but I have seen one at the Army Ordnance Museum (fascinating place). An uncomfortably large target, especially for recon. I have always wondered how long it takes to reload the cannon and can you do it while moving?

    1. Yes. You can reload while moving. But not while shooting. It’s pretty easy to refill the ammo cans.

      230 rounds of HE and 70 rounds of AP . Or vice versa.

      In Desert Storm we never even came close to expending a full load, but did top off after every engagement.

    2. It’s easy but not too fast. You have to traverse the turret, pop off some covers to give the guys in back access. Then, the guys in back have to move all the gear that is stacked up all over the floor, raise the floor panels and pull long cans with multiple straps around them up. Then open the long cans, which are covered in a thick sheath. Then feed belts of AP or HE into the ready boxes, reorganize the rear stowage and reinstall the covers and then traverse the turret back. (What our host may not know is that an upgrade to the rear of the track changed the 25mm stowage to this new system.) I made all my infantry crews practice this.

      By the way, no static Bradley begins to convey how cramped they are when loaded up with nine guys and all their gear. Particularly cramped in the turret.

    3. Thank you.
      thank you.

      Sounds like it takes an uncomfortably long time to reload. I have seen pictures of the inside and my first thought was how the hell do they fit 9 guys in there, much less their gear.

      1. Really just a couple minutes. The “9 guys* includes the driver and the two guys in the turret. But yes, it’s still mighty snug in back with six guys.

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