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US Army receives first of new Bradley M2A4 IFVs after fixing toxic gas issue

Bradley IFV M2A4
One of the new M2A4 Bradley IFV at Fort Stewart on February 1, 2022. Photo: US Army

The US Army has taken delivery of the first examples of the newest variant of the Bradley fighting vehicle at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Soldiers from the “Hound Battalion,” 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, became the first unit in service to receive the newly modernized Bradley fighting vehicles on February 1.

The service started fielding the M2A4 variant of the Bradley after resolving the issue with toxic gases from batteries that weren’t compatible with a new charger that was installed in the A4 design.

This deficiency led to the early cancellation of the Full Operational Test and Evaluation procedure after batteries overheated in all six test articles creating a safety hazard to soldiers by sending toxic fumes into the turret and crew compartment.

The Army has now corrected the deficiency, with all vehicles now operationally effective, demonstrating improved capability over the M2A3 in mechanized infantry platoons and companies, according to the fiscal year 2021 Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) report.

US Army file photo of the M2A4 variant during trials in 2020

M2A4 is the latest member of the Bradley family of vehicles designed to provide protected transport of soldiers and direct fires to support dismounted infantry, disrupt or destroy enemy military forces, and control land areas. The Bradley Engineering Change Proposal (ECP), termed M2/M7A4, includes changes intended to restore ground clearance, suspension reliability, and lost mobility, and to improve situational awareness. The M2/M7A4 maintains the survivability enhancement features found on legacy vehicles, to include the Bradley Urban
Survivability Kits, Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles, and Add-on Armor Kit that the Army developed and fielded based on lessons learned during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

According to BAE Systems, the main contractor on the program, the A4 is equipped with an enhanced powertrain that maximizes mobility and increases engine horsepower, providing rapid movement in reaction to combat or other adverse situations. Wide angle driver’s vision enhancer, improved Force XXI Battle Command Bridge and Below (FBCB2) software integration improves friendly and enemy vehicle identification, enhancing situational awareness. The addition of a high speed slip ring, greater network connectivity and smart displays that simultaneously display classified and unclassified information also improve situational awareness.

A decision from December 2021 to approve the A4 for a materiel release will pave the way for the conversion of existing M2A3, M3A3, and Operation Desert Storm – Situational Awareness versions of Bradleys into the M2A4 version, and the conversion of M7A3 Bradley Fire Support Team vehicles into the M7A4 version. The current plan is to field the M2A4 and M7A4 to four brigades.

Commenting on the arrival of the new A4 Bradleys at Fort Stewart, Lieutenant Colonel Mario Iglesias, project manager for the Bradley fighting vehicle, said the crews would now conduct operational new equipment training to acquaint themselves with the capabilities of the new vehicle.

“The main difference that the units are going to see right away is the power train, which will allow the vehicle to be much more maneuverable,” Iglesias said.

“This new Bradley can support a bunch of new survivability, like new counter-IED technologies, new active protection systems and new network capability. The technology in this new vehicle will make sure it is a dominant IFV for many years to come while we wait for the new OMFV.”

OMFV is envisioned as an optionally manned successor to the Bradley. The program is currently in the second stage of the concept design phase after the service picked five companies for work on the program last summer.