US Army soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, and 1st Cavalry Division, have evaluated a new capability that enhances the situational awareness for crew members of the M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.
Designed by the Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), the capability will be installed into existing armoured vehicles to provide troopers inside a 360° picture of their surroundings.
Currently, soldiers riding in the back of an M2A3 Bradley are exposed immediately to threats as soon as they dismount.
Back in the Stone Age when I was a dismount, there simply was zero situational awareness for the dismount squad in the back of a Bradley. Theoretically, there was an intercom system that the dismounts could plug into to talk to the vehicle crew. In practice, plugging more people into the intercom led to a loss of signal, and made crew communications difficult. At best, when the vehicle came to a stop, the Bradley Commander would duck down and shout into the troop compartment whether to dismount to the left or the right.
There are half a dozen or so vision blocks in the troop compartment, but their field of view is terribly limited at best, and often blocked by equipment strapped to the outside of the vehicle.
Of course, the addition of tablets like these to improve the situational awareness of the dismounts comes at a cost. First, it’s one more thing to have to learn to operate, and to maintain. The troop compartment is exposed to temperature extremes, excessive dust, and severe vibration. The troop compartment is also bumping up against volume constraints- it’s not very big back there. That’s to say nothing about the limits of electrical generation available on the vehicle. There is very little room for growth left on the Bradley.
Still, this seems to be a viable method of increasing the capability of the vehicle and its symbiotic relationship with its dismount squad.