August 13, 2011: The U.S. Department of Defense is buying 45 M88A2 (“Hercules”) ARVs (Armored Recovery Vehicles) for $2.4 million each. The U.S. Army will get 29 of them, while the U.S. Marine Corps will get 16, all of them to be delivered in 2013. The army already has 394 M88s, and the marines 75.
The original 56 ton M88 is based on the chassis of the M-60 tank. This model M88 entered service in 1961, and has been upgraded over the years. The M88A2 is larger and heavier (70 tons) so that it can haul any American armored vehicle (including the 70 ton M-1). The M88 has a boom that can lift 35 tons.
A crew of three has numerous other tools needed for dealing with disabled armored vehicles, and getting them in shape to be hauled back for repair. The armor of the M88 is proof against 30mm shells. Its only armament is a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine-gun, and personal weapons of the crew. Top speed is 48 kilometers an hour. Using internal fuel, an M88A2 can travel 450 kilometers, pick up a broken vehicle, and return. So far, 18 foreign nations have bought the M88.