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The M2 Bradley (Infantry Fighting Vehicle), IFV, is an American infantry fighting vehicle manufactured by BAE Systems Land and Armaments, formerly United Defense as part of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle family.
As with other infantry fighting vehicles, the Bradley is designed to transport infantry with armor protection while providing covering fire to suppress enemy troops and armored vehicles. The M2 holds a crew of three: a commander, a gunner and a driver; as well as six fully equipped soldiers
The M2 was named after WWII General Omar Bradley, The M2 carries a crew of three and a six-man infantry squad.
Since entering service with the U.S. Army in 1981, a total of 4,641 M2s have been produced.
Even after the troubled development history of the Bradley additional problems occurred after production started as described in a book by Air Force Col. James Burton, which was adapted for the 1998 film The Pentagon Wars starring Kelsey Grammer and Cary Elwes. Col. Burton advocated the use of comprehensive live fire tests to be used against fully loaded military vehicles to check for survivability. The Army & Navy agreed and established the Joint Live fire testing program in 1984. When testing the Bradley, however, disagreements occurred between Burton and the Aberdeen Proving Ground's Ballistic Research Laboratory which preferred smaller, more controlled, "building block" tests which could be used to improve the databases used to model vehicle survivability as opposed to full up tests with random shots which reduce the possibility of bias but produced little useful statistical data. In addition Burton insisted upon a series of "overmatch" tests in which weapon systems would be fired at the Bradley that were known to be able to easily penetrate it's armor. Burton saw attempts to avoid such tests as dishonest while the BRL saw them as wasteful as they already knew the vehicle would fail. The disagreements became so contentious that Congressional inquiry resulted. As a result of the tests additional improvements to vehicle survivability were added.
Bradley IFV burns after being hit by 125 mm Iraqi tank fire during the Battle of 73 Easting.During the Gulf War, M2 Bradleys destroyed more Iraqi armored vehicles than the M1 Abrams. Twenty Bradleys were lost — three by enemy fire and 17 due to friendly fire incidents; another 12 were damaged. The gunner of one Bradley was killed when his vehicle was hit by Iraqi fire, possibly from an Iraqi BMP-1, during the Battle of 73 Easting.To remedy some problems that were identified as contributing factors in the friendly fire incidents, infrared identification panels and other marking/identification measures were added to the Bradleys.
In the Iraq War, the Bradley has proved somewhat vulnerable to Improvised explosive device (IED) and Rocket propelled grenade (RPG) attacks, but casualties have been light — the doctrine being to allow the crew to escape at the expense of the vehicle. As of early 2006, total combat losses included 55 Bradleys.
It is the U.S Army's intention that the BCT Ground Combat Vehicle Program replace the M2 Bradley and M113 with the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle by 2018. The M3 Bradley could later be replaced with future variants of the GCV.