Designed to provide unparalleled mobility and protection to ground infantry forces, the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), or simply “Bradley” for short, has a storied history, exceptional technical specifications, a significant operational impact, and a pivotal role within the United States military.

Design and Development History: Pioneering Excellence

Its origins can be traced back to the early 1960s, out from the horrible experience and hard-hitting lessons the American forces learned from the Vietnam War. During this period, the US Army had identified the need for a new infantry fighting vehicle to replace the aging M113 armored personnel carrier (APC). The upgraded IFV that the armed forces developed aimed to bridge the gap between the armored personnel carrier and the main battle tank, fusing the best of both worlds to create a vehicle that could not only transport infantry troops safely into combat but also provide enough firepower to take our the enemy and counter their attacks.

M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
Old School. An M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (Image source: DVIDS)

Enter the Bradley, a lightly armored, fully tracked vehicle that provides cross-country mobility, equipped with robust weapons systems, communications, and enough protection against artillery and small-arms fire to safely transport troops from point A to point B.

The development process was, of course, not without its challenges, with debates over balancing protection, firepower, and mobility. But ultimately, the Bradley IFV emerged as a compromise between these factors, featuring a mix of armor, armament, and mobility—making it a versatile and potent combat platform.

After years of design deliberation, the development and manufacturing followed not long after, with American defense giant BAE Systems as its primary manufacturer and systems integrator of the Bradley program. Previously known as the XM2 (XM3 for the scout version), this then-latest addition to the US military arsenal held the namesake of Army General Omar Bradley, a prominent senior officer who climbed to ranks during World War II and unfortunately passed away in 1981, the same year the production for the XM2/3 prototypes received its green light.

Technical Specifications: A Marvel of Modern Engineering

The Bradley IFV’s technical specifications are a testament to its prowess on the battlefield. Weighing approximately 40 tons (80,000 pounds), the vehicle boasts a speed of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) on roads and a range of approximately 300 miles (483 km) on a single tank of fuel. This impressive combination of speed and endurance allows infantry forces to maneuver swiftly across various terrains, making it a valuable asset in offensive and defensive operations and a reliable battle buddy to the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks.

M2 Bradley
M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (Image source: DVIDS)

The Bradley IFV is armed with a 25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun, capable of engaging both infantry and light vehicles with precision and firepower. Additionally, it can be equipped with Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wireless-Guided (TOW) anti-tank guided missiles capable of reaching a maximum range of about 3,750 meters (2.3 miles), turning the platform into a lethal adversary against armored opponents. Moreover, integrating advanced targeting systems enhances accuracy, ensuring that engagements are effective even in challenging conditions.

The Bradley program had produced two distinct variants: the M2 IFV and the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle, both filling in the role of its predecessor, the M113 family, as the support vehicle of the ground troops in the armed forces.