Bradley remains the land fighting vehicle of choice for US Army

The US Army’s land fighting vehicle is the Bradley and it has remained so for more than forty years.

When it was first in use in 1977, US Congress wanted it to be confirmed if the Bradley could withstand an attack from Soviet forces. Of course at the time the US was embroiled in the Cold War.

The Bradley’s critics said that it wasn’t strong enough to hold up against tanks, it was too big for scouting and too small for transporting troops.  So the Army prospected for a replacement.

The US Army wanted something that would withstand an attack from the Russian tanks if they needed to. The Russian’s tanks with large guns and armor would ensure their Bradley was flattened.

Several plans were put forward including a heavily armored infantry carrier with manned turrets, cannons and anti-tank missiles, another with not so much armor but with a remote-controlled turret, and another with a rapid 75 millimeter gun.

All would have a three-man crew and could carry six additional soldiers and have special armor technology. Their only downfall would be their weight at around 40 tonnes heavier that the Bradley.

Everyone believed that any of these options would be more robust than the Bradley and could be ready within six to eight years, the Medium reports.

Finally at an estimated cost of about US $1 million each (double that of the Bradley) the price tag put an end to any of them being produced.

Once the Cold War had ended in the early 1990s, the US Army weren’t as interested in pursuing a new land vehicle so the Bradley remained.

Now that Russia is asserting itself in central Europe, along with a growing Chinese military, it is reported that the US Army may be looking at new alternatives to the Bradley.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon has stopped its latest replacement plans since what was being proposed was again too heavy at over 80 tonnes and too expensive at around US $13.5 million each (ten times that of the original Bradley).

Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno acknowledges that they do need a replacement to the Bradley, but admits that there simply isn’t any budget for it. General Odierno is hoping that technological developments will enable the US Army to have a replacement in the next four years. For now though, the US Army continues to improve and update its existing fleet of Bradley fighting vehicles.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE