Bradley Relatives – The MICV and AIFV

When discussing the early Bradley prototype, I brought up the Mounted Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV) of the 1960s.  To be complete, I should also mention the Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) as the other infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) developed prior to the Bradley prototypes.  If the XM-723 was the “mother” Bradley, then the MICV is perhaps the “grandmother” and AIFV a “sister.”

Armies do not develop weapon systems in a vacuum, rather evolve them based upon assessments of the existing systems.   After a decade or so of evolution, the US Army fielded the excellent M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC).  Great vehicles for their time (and still useful today), but these were for all purposes “battlefield taxis.”  From the infantryman’s perspective, this got him to the battlefield without getting the boots muddy but kept him from contributing to the battle until dismounting.  At the time planners felt future battlefields would be polluted with nasty radiation and chemical agents.  Thus sprang the idea of allowing the infantry to fight from the vehicle, to dismount on the objective.

The Infantry School itself first dabbled with such a vehicle with a modified M113.  With benches allowing back-to-back squad seating, the infantry used firing ports cut into the sides.   Eventually the M113’s vendor, FMC Incorporated, offered a factory-built refinement along the same lines, which received the designation XM734.   Although typically seen with the standard .50-cal M2, some XM734 tested 20mm cannons.

XM734

(See this Flickr photostream for “walk around” photos of a XM734 on display at the Orange County Florida Sheriff’s Office.  The track came that way in a round about way, after seeing Israeli use!)

In the mid-1960s, the Army opened the MICV-65 program and tested XM734s alongside an offering from the Pacific Car and Foundry, XM701.   Pacific Car based the later on the chassis of their M107/110 series of heavy self-propelled guns.  Like the FMC vehicle, Pacific Car gave their vehicle firing ports and options for a turret mounted .50-caliber or 20mm gun.  In trials the XM701 emerged as the better vehicle.  But after further testing, the Army rejected the type in 1966 as too heavy for transport in theater support cargo aircraft (at the time C-141s).

XM701 MICV

But the MICV project was not a drive up a blind alley.  The Army still wanted something.  In 1968 a task force led by Major General George Casey (father of the current Army Chief of Staff) used the experience from the MICV project to define the attributes desired for an ICV.  More importantly, the task force also laid the ground work for just how the Army would use any ICV.  At the time, FMC offered a revised XM734.   Although using the same base M113 chassis, the XM765 featured improvements to crew stations and fuel storage.

IMG_0293
XM765 at the Infantry Museum

The XM765 featured a commander’s turret with a 20mm cannon (although the one pictured above has a smaller turret with fittings for a .50-caliber mounting).  On each a revised and sloped side bristled with four firing ports.  Two additional ports on the loading ramp covered the rear of the vehicle.  The ports allowed infantry to use their M16 rifles (and often cited are the M3A1 grease gun SMGs, always one of my favorites!).  Fuel tanks moved from the sides of the crew compartment to under the floor.  The downside was the XM765’s use of the M113 powerpack.  With all the extra weaponry, to keep decent performance figures FMC reduced the armor.   For this and other reasons, the Army didn’t bite on the XM765 opting to continue pursuit of something better.

But that did not prevent FMC from continuing development.  In the early 1970s the company started offering an even more refined XM765 as the AIFV to foreign customers.  The Netherlands ordered 880 AIFVs in 1975 as the YPR-765.  The Dutch specified some revisions to crew arrangements, fewer firing ports, and used an aluminum-steel laminate.  But the AIFV retained the M113A1 power train.  In the turret, the Dutch variant mounted a Oerlikon Contraves 25 mm KBA-B02 cannon.

IMG_0050
Dutch YPR-765 AIFV

So when General DePuy said “…the Dutch are ahead of us…” this is what he had on his mind.  Sort of ironic, you think?   The AIFV became a cheap alternative to the Bradley, Marder, or Warrior IFVs.  Twelve other countries, including Belgium, Egypt, Turkey, and Philippines also purchased quantities of the AIFV. Variants include TOW missile carriers and specialized C2 vehicles.

The Dutch continue to use the YPR-765 today, even sending some to Afghanistan.  Recent improvement programs removed the turret but improved armor arrangements, and is designated the YPR-765A1.

YPR-765A1

The Egyptians opted to upgrade their 1,200 AIFVs to a new Egyptian Infantry Fighting Vehicle (EIFV) standard with a “Bradley” turret including  a 25mm Bushmaster gun and TOW launcher.

EIFV Design Diagram

And with all that talk, you want to see some boom-boom!  Well here is the boom-boom!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZYL6A0coGI]

A Dutch YPR-765 in Afghanistan.

And another one from the “gun line”:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZshiKj_-mk]

See why I say “sister” of the Bradley?

And, for the record, the Dutch beat the US again – getting armor into Afghanistan!