The US Army has again extended the active service life of its M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle first introduced in 1981.
The latest M2A4 became officially adopted by a battalion of the 3d Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. BGen Glenn Dean, US Army Program Executive Officer – Ground Combat Systems, stated “the M2A4 Bradley will ensure that the platform maintains combat relevance now and for decades to come… because it has enhanced mobility and power generation, we’ll be able to integrate new technologies”.
The M2A4 development was initiated in 2018 with a US$347 million contract to BAE Systems the original designer. Operational testing began in June 2020. The A4 includes upgrades previously provided in two earlier ECPs (Engineering Change Proposals) that improved the suspension and upgraded the generator and power distribution system.
In addition, the A4 goes from a 600 hp engine to 675 hp which is linked to a new transmission with integrated power management. To adjust for the additional weight of other upgrades BAE has introduced a lighter track, new shock absorbers, a new suspension support system, and higher capacity torsion bars.
More importantly, the broader battlefield vehicle electronics and communications systems have been entirely replaced by state-of-the art digital system allowing improved situational awareness, network conductivity, and enhanced communications. The Iron Fist Active Protection System which was to be included has been delayed.
The first initial production vehicles were received by the 3d Infantry Battalion, 67th Armoured Regiment, 2d Armoured Brigade Combat Team. The unit has trained on the A4 completing its transition to the new platform on 23 April 2022. The Army plans on fielding M2A4 to five brigades and to forward deploy one brigade set to Europe.
Plans for a further upgrade to a M2A5 including replacing the current 25mm Bushmaster with a 30mm Bushmaster were cancelled in 2019. It remains to be seen whether battlefield actions in the Ukraine may cause that to be revisited.
by Stephen W. Miller