The M2 Bradley, or Bradley IFV, is an American infantry fighting vehicle manufactured by BAE Systems Land & 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 can hold a crew of three: a commander, a gunner, and a driver; as well as six fully equipped soldiers.
In the mid 1960s the American Army required a new infantry vehicle , which they wanted to out-perform the soviet BMP-1, to replace the M113. until 1977 no development vehicle had been produced which proved to be adequate and also projects were dropped. In that year, two new vehicles were developed - the XM2 (Bradly infantry fighting Vehicle) and the XM3 (Bradley Calvary vehicle). However , in 1978 both of these vehicles were condemned by the general accounting office as being too slow, too high , having a very poor engine and insufficient amour. Some of these problems , but not all, were rectified in further development and in 1981 the first production vehicle were handed over to the army.
Initially, the American Army had a requirement for 6,800 Bradley M2s, but this has since been reduced. the hull of the M2 is made out of all-welded aluminum amour which is further protected with space laminated amour, The driver of the vehicle sits at the front on the left hand side, with the engine on the right hand side. The turret is mounted on the top of the vehicle in the middle with the commander on the right and the gunner on the left. The main armament Is the 25mm/0.98in m242 chain gun with a coaxial M240 7.62mm/0.3in machine gun. the gunner can select single shot or two different burst rates and, as it is fully stabilized in all plains, the gun can be laid and fired on the move. Two TOW missiles, with a range of 3,750m/ 12,300ft, are mounted on the outside of the turret
The Bradley has a swimming ability and this is affected by using a floatation screen that is permanently fitted to the vehicle. The rear of the vehicle holds six infantrymen, each with a firing port to the side or rear of the vehicle. the NBC system is limited to the three man crew and does not provide protection for the infantry in the rear
The Bradley is still very heavily criticized by the men who use it in the field, in spite of numerous upgrades since coming into service.
During the Persian Gulf War, the M2 Bradley actually destroyed more Iraqi armored vehicles than the M1 Abrams, the American main battle tank. Twenty Bradley vehicles were lost, three by enemy fire and seventeen due to friendly fire incidents, and another twelve 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 Bradley.