Armor: The Keeper


September30, 2008:  Just as the U.S. M-1 tank got an urban warfare upgrade, based on Iraq experience, so did the M-2 (Bradley) IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle). The BUSK (Bradley Urban Survival Kit) has been applied to about 600 M-2s. These improvements came in two batches. The first included a more powerful (at 3 million candlepower, four times brighter) spotlight. There was also a wire mesh protector to keep the optics from getting scratched, and non-conductive rods that push away fallen electrical wires that often endanger crews. Later came a remote control (CLAW) 5.56mm machine-gun on the turret, additional armor underneath to provide protection from mines and a bullet proof, and a transparent shield for the commander when his head and shoulders are out of the turret.

Some non-urban warfare improvements were also made, including a series of sensors and a software package that more quickly found components wearing out (so replacements could be ordered and installed), and simulation software so the gunner could train (with the fire control system, in effect, turned into a realistic video game.)

All this added about three tons to the weight of the vehicle. Because of his, a major upgrade of the M-2 is planned, to include a more powerful (800 versus 600 horsepower) engine, a more powerful gun (30 or 40mm) and lighter armor (or protection systems that shoot down anti-tank missiles and RPGs). Improved sensors are planned, plus vidcams to give people inside the vehicle a 360 degree view of what's outside.) More electronics, including one that would allow variable power, and fuel consumption, from the engine. More safety features are planned as well, including an improved fire extinguisher system. The new version is not expected to show up for another four years.

These upgrades represent a belief that the M-2 is an excellent, combat proven vehicle worth keeping around for a while.



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