Armor: November 8, 1999

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: SADARM (Sense and Destroy Armor, a US Army 155mm artillery shell designed to drop two tank-seeking bomblets) has successfully completed three days of trials at Yuma Proving Ground to determine if it is reliable and effective when fired with the highest powder-charges for the longest range.--Stephen V Cole

BRADLEY: THE FATAL FLAW IN US COMBINED ARMS: The US Army's M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle was a result of Cold War requirements and compromises that have left the Army with a less than optimal vehicle for the post-Cold War world. The Bradley had to be amphibious because Europe has a significant water barrier 10-40km in any direction, and only vehicles that could swim these streams could provide the operational mobility that the Army needed. (In hindsight, bridging the streams would have been faster than the time to marshal the Bradleys, erect their flotation screens, paddle across the water, and then reverse everything on the other side. The Bradley had to have a tank-killing TOW launcher in order for the entire combined arms force to have any chance of stopping Soviet tank attacks, but adding this system made every Bradley on the battlefield into a "battlecruiser" with tank-killing firepower and less-than-tank armor. Soviet (and now any enemy) tanks cannot afford to ignore a Bradley as they could have an M113; with those TOW missiles on board it is so dangerous that it must be killed as quickly as possible. This will drive up infantry casualties in any future conflict. Infantry rarely dismounted in Iraq because the Iraqi Army was so ill-prepared to actually fight; against a serious opponent (e.g., Syria, North Korea) failure to dismount infantry will be suicidal. And the Bradley has too few infantry to perform anything like the infantry job it was meant to do. During WWII, the Army had no shortage of Sherman tanks but had a major shortage of combat infantry trained to operate from armored half-tracks. Part of the Bradley Compromise was to include the 25mm chaingun so that recon variants of the Bradley could duel with Russian BMP-Rs; but other factors of the Compromise meant that the vehicle is too high and too big to form a stealthy recon platform. What the Army should have done was to build two vehicles. The first would have been a small and light recon vehicle (the M114 done right) with the 25mm gun and, if wanted, the TOW system. A lower silhouette would have been possible without the troop compartment and with other benefits of a smaller overall vehicle (e.g., a smaller engine). The second would have been an armored personnel carrier able to haul 11 troops plus its two-man crew and fitted with a weapon designed to support infantry attacks (say, a 40mm grenade launcher). A variant of the APC with a Hammer-Head TOW could have provided the anti-tank element. While fewer TOW missiles could have been fielded, they could have offset their lower numbers with better positioning. Three separate vehicles (Scout, APC, and TOW variant of the APC) would have avoided the current tactical problems of integrating an infantry carrier which needs to be HERE, a 25mm light armored killer that needs to be THERE, and a TOW missile launcher that needs to be WAY OVER YONDER.--Stephen V Cole

 


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