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Truth to The Pentagon Wars and the Bradley IFV??

Pioneer

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G'day gents. It's been a long time, but last night I watched the movie The Pentagon Wars (if you haven't seen it here it is on Youtube - )
It's a movie based on the ridiculously long and questionable development of the U.S. Army's M2 & M3 Bradley IFV .
There's a scene where the USAF Colonel Burton, who has been assigned by Congress to observe and report on the testing of the new Bradley IFV, before Congress will give the ok for the design to be budgeted and put into full production and operational service.
Colonel Burton is tipped off (from time 1:04:40 on Youtube) by a former officer, who had originally been assigned the mammoth task of developing the specifications for the Bradley IFV program (I'm assuming its from the MICV-65 to the Bradley IFV aka take note of design evolution in movie, along with the pictures of the President throughout the movie!!) to go to the manufacturing facility where an initial production batch of 'modified' Bradley's are supposedly being built for the Israeli Army.
Continuing on with the movie..... Ironically, the Israeli's order has specified specific modifications to the questionable U.S. Army specifications of the Bradley (which are highlighted and the principle of the movie!). These Israeli specifications include "They want the fuel tanks on the outside, reinforced armour, a different ventilation system ......."
With these changes, which are completely contradictive to the U.S. Army's wants, and to what Colonel Burton has knowingly highlighted as flaws in the Bradley design, when Colonel Burton asks the Manufacturing Project Manager if the U.S. Army are aware of these combat-experienced induced requirements and modifications of the Israeli order. The Manufacturing Project Manager reply's "No change".

Can I ask the forum members is there any truth to this part of the movie re the Israeli order for the Bradley? I was not aware that the Israeli Army had any interest, let alone purchased any Bradley's! Does anyone have any details of Israel's interest or evaluation of the Bradley IFV??
Also out of interest, can anyone please highlight design specification originally incorporated into the Bradley design, which were in fact changed (or forced to be changed,) before the Bradley was allowed to be excepted into service?

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Abraham Gubler

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Rule number one of understanding history: never, ever take your history lesson from Hollywood.

As to the Israeli Bradley yes it is true and I’ve physically seen it however no photos allowed. But the story as outlined in ‘Pentagon Wars’ is as misleading and full of sh*t as the rest of that movie.

The real story is after the 1982 Lebanon War the IDF realised it needed a more survivable APC than the M113. A number of projects were launched to upgrade the protection of the M113 and find replacements. In the end the eventual replacement option chosen was the converted T55 tank into APC called the Azcharit. Other options included an APC version of the Merkava tank which was later revisited 20 years later with the Namer.

Another option was the Bradley. The Israelis were not interested in an IFV and never rejected the standard M2 Bradley design as being un-survivable. They were interested in the Bradley for its chassis, power pack, etc which could basically be a bigger version of the M113 able to carry the same infantry section and a lot more armour. They acquired at least one Bradley hull and converted it. The work was done by RAFAEL who still have this Bradley at their Akko centre in what they call their “Mini Laturn”. Where it and several other prototypes are on display behind the scenes. The Israeli Bradley is just a turretless Bradley with extra armour and a layer of ERA bricks outside of that. However in the end this option lost out to the Azcharit which was presumably cheaper and tougher with its 2-10cm RHA steel hull under the extra armour compared the Bradley’s 2-4cm of steel and aluminium laminate.
 

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Thanks for your reply Abraham Gubler
I appreciate your
Rule number one of understanding history: never, ever take your history lesson from Hollywood
! and in reply, I have to say that I took the move with a pinch of salt. In fact it was the uncertainty of the movie which made me ask my questions.
Very interesting info on the Israeli Bradley you provided!!
I would think the Israeli Army of all army, what with their vast armoured combat experience would be dubious about aluminium armour.
I will now endeavour to find some pics of this Israeli Bradley!! :eek:


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Abraham Gubler

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There’s nothing wrong with aluminium armour. In some applications it can actually be better than steel armour. The whole Pentagon Wars, Col. Burton thing was to supposedly demonstrate that aluminium armour would vapourise when hit by an RPG and realise toxic chemicals and so on to the crew. The experiments failed to demonstrate this. And this limited scope of the study was why the range engineers wanted to keep fuel and ammunition out of it.

The Bradley was not rejected for the IDF because it had aluminium armour. And you won’t find a photo of it on the internet because none have been released by the IDF censor. And the reason the vehicle hasn’t been declassified is probably because of all the Pentagon Wars BS.
 

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Much better to read the book on which the movie is very, very loosely based.
 
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Then maybe the Bradley the Israelis displayed with their own remotely controlled weapon station was this very same one they'd originally acquired for evaluation?
 

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robunos

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the converted T55 tank into APC called the Azcharit. Other options included an APC version of the Merkava tank which was later revisited 20 years later with the Namer.

It's interesting that with the development of the tank based Azcharit and Namer, that the APC/IFV has effectively come full circle...

cheers,
Robin.
 

Abraham Gubler

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CostasTT said:
Then maybe the Bradley the Israelis displayed with their own remotely controlled weapon station was this very same one they'd originally acquired for evaluation?

I doubt it. The original one has been sitting in a park for 25 years. It was there in late 2008. Of course there could have been more than one.
 

Abraham Gubler

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The movie Pentagon Wars and to a lesser extent the book primarily rely on ignorance of the armour needs and specifics of the Bradley to create the appearance of scandal. To understand it better it’s important to address the three specific survivability issues in relation to the supposed Bradley scandal.

Firstly is what Col. Burton was empowered to investigate. Which was the concept of “vaporifics” that is aluminium armour would react more dangerously to penetration by a shaped charge warhead than steel armour. That is the aluminium armour would produce toxic gases, more overpressure and the like behind the armour after a hit compared to a comparative level of steel armour. The testing carried out by live fires on Bradleys failed to demonstrate this to any kind of level that would make a difference to the target vehicle and its crew.

Secondly is that the Bradley was designed without enough armour. This is the most ridiculous of arguments and also the one with the most mileage. The Bradley was designed to be resistant to splinters from nearby bursts of 152mm high explosive shells and hits from 14.5mm armour piercing bullets fired by Soviet heavy machineguns. These of course are not the only Soviet weapons on the battlefield but they were the type of weapons the Bradley was mostly going to be exposed to in its normal mode of use on a linear battlefield.

This protection requirement was based on how armoured personnel carriers (APCs), later renamed infantry fighter vehicles (IFV), were to be used on the linear battlefield in places like West Germany trying to stop a Soviet invasion. That is the vehicles move the infantry forward through the area target suppression fires of the Soviets but don’t close with the enemy to destroy them. The infantry do the later on foot. It is this closing with the enemy on the battlefield that exposes an APC to the fires of anti-tank weapons like the RPG or BMP’s 73mm gun. Weapons that are not effective at long range. Also the APC didn’t have to worry about long range anti-tank weapons like guided missiles or enemy tank guns because it was never to remain stationary while exposed to enemy direct fires like a tank does. However the type of suppressive fires they would face are artillery barrages and long range machinegun fires.

When the earlier APCs were designed (M75, M59, M113) the typical Soviet weapons used for suppressive fires were 122mm artillery and 7.62mm machineguns. So they were designed to be resistant to these weapons. But in the 1950s and 60s the Soviets upgraded these weapons to 152mm artillery and 14.5mm machineguns. So the Bradley and its predecessor the XM723 were specified to be resistant to these more lethal weapons the Soviets would use for their area supression.

In non-linear battles APCs were found to be exposed to anti-tank fires. As was seen in counter insurgency wars or deep penetration offensive actions like the IDF applied in Lebanon in 1982. Since they were never designed to be resistant to these types of weapons they suffered high losses. But this was for the US at least a secondary requirement as the primary and most important battlefield was the linear defensive war in West Germany. After the Bradley was introduced the Soviets upgraded the BMP with a 30mm gun that could fire bursts of armour piercing ammunition to long range in place of the 14.5mm gun. This required an upgrading of the Bradley’s armour in the A2 version to be resistant to the 30mm armour piercing round. While claimed as a response to the Burton trials it had nothing to do with it.

The third issue about vehicle survivability that Burton seized upon when the vaporifics issue was shown to be so much hot air was crew survivability after a penetrating hit. This argument, completely factually correct, was that the APCs like the Bradley with their fuel and ammunition stored inside alongside the large number of human occupants were highly dangerous after being hit and penetrated. That the sympathetic explosions of the fuel and ammunition made it extremely unlikely any of the crew would escape the vehicle after being hit.

This was of course no surprise to anyone involved in the design and use of APCs including the Bradley. Because of course it wasn’t designed to be exposed to these kinds of fires in the first place so why make it survivable to such a hit? You don’t build a street car to survive a roll over at speeds over 250 kph (~150 mph) because they don’t drive that fast. But you do build a racing car to survive such a roll over. However the sight of a burnt out APC is as emotive as a crushed street car even if the likelihood in the primary means of operations was extremely low. Burton was able to get the Army to build a Bradley with all fuel and ammunition moved to separate armoured boxes within or outside the vehicle. This vehicle was never entered into production however and fans of the Pentagon Wars frequently mistake this vehicle for the A2 armour upgrade. Even though the later vehicle retained all of its fuel and ammunition inside the vehicle alongside the occupants.

Since the end of the Cold War and an increasing focus on counter insurgency and offensive operations the US Army and others have upgraded their protection requirements for APCs. Now they are often as high as tanks and with high flank protection. But this does not invalidate the effectiveness of the original design of protection for the Bradley. A vehicle that at its time of introduction was along with the West German Marder the most protected APC in the world and if asked to do what it was designed for would have provided adequate protection for infantry mobility in West Germany against a Soviet invasion.
 

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Thank you for the fascinating information. I really enjoyed reading this.
 

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Avimimus said:
Thank you for the fascinating information. I really enjoyed reading this.

Agree!!
Thanks Abraham Gubler

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The M2/M3A1 Bradley did move around some of the ammunition and make some external on the rear hull, but that had as much to do with improving seating and improving access to TOW missile reloads as survivability. IIRC the TOWs were actually moved into the vehicle, and much of the reserve small arms ammo placed external. Designers also did add a secondary spall liner around the turret basket to protect the 25mm ready ammo in the feed chute that was otherwise very highly exposed. One or two fuel cells were also shifted around. Overall detail changes, not a full scale redesign.
 

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Sea Skimmer said:
The M2/M3A1 Bradley did move around some of the ammunition and make some external on the rear hull, but that had as much to do with improving seating and improving access to TOW missile reloads as survivability. IIRC the TOWs were actually moved into the vehicle, and much of the reserve small arms ammo placed external. Designers also did add a secondary spall liner around the turret basket to protect the 25mm ready ammo in the feed chute that was otherwise very highly exposed. One or two fuel cells were also shifted around. Overall detail changes, not a full scale redesign.

The A1 changes moved a small amount of ammunition outside the vehicle to make room. Most of the ammo remained inside the vehicle. The guided missiles remained stored inside the vehicle and have never been stored outside. The A1 changes to the storage arragements were more to do with ergonomics than survivability.
 

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I recall seeing photos of the prototype Bradley on the web somewhere.
But for the life of me I can't remember where :mad:
In the photo it was interesting to see the angles of the rear troop compartment, a solid and obvious trim-vein and the bullet-trap turret ring!!
I think it was termed the XM723 BAT-II (or something like that :-[ ). I found it interesting, as it clearly showed the transformation to the production Bradley we know!
If anyone knows of this prototype and has photos, I would greatl appriciate it!! ;)
 

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That would be the XM723 which was effectively a Bradley with a one man, 20mm gun turret, though really a Bradley is an XM723 with the two man turret. The larger trim vane had a buoyancy chamber because this vehicle was able to float by itself. The extra weight of the two man turret in the Bradley required a flotation screen to be raised to provide enough buoyancy so the larger trim vane with integral buoyancy was redundant.

Pictures of the XM723 can be found here:

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=xm723&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Rv44UqW6J8TNiAel7IHwDw&ved=0CCoQsAQ&biw=1536&bih=665&dpr=1
 

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Pioneer said:
Ah ha I found it - It was the XM723 T-BAT-II

That's just an XM723 fitted with the Bradley turret. The 'missing' link between the two.
 

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Pioneer said:
Ah ha I found it - It was the XM723 T-BAT-II
http://www.com-central.net/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=10814

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Interesting. Is that twin-co-ax MGs?

 

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Abraham Gubler said:
The A1 changes moved a small amount of ammunition outside the vehicle to make room. Most of the ammo remained inside the vehicle. The guided missiles remained stored inside the vehicle and have never been stored outside. The A1 changes to the storage arragements were more to do with ergonomics than survivability.


Yeah some of them certainly have been stored outside the armor on the M2/3A1. It was changed again for the A2 versions because of the need to accommodate Javelin instead of Dragon missiles in addition.
 

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No, there was never any external stowage for missiles, other than the two TOW in the launcher.

The big change was in the M2A2, which did away with the two vertical racks that I believe usually had Dragon (but could carry either TOW or Dragon) in favor of two more horizontal racks.
 

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Sea Skimmer said:
Yeah some of them certainly have been stored outside the armor on the M2/3A1. It was changed again for the A2 versions because of the need to accommodate Javelin instead of Dragon missiles in addition.

Not all of these proposed M2/M3E1 changes were actually implemented on the M2/M3A1. Like the newer smoke launchers and the rebuild of the rear hull and turret bustle. The A0 to A1 required reasonable changes because it changed TOW to TOW II and added a NBC system. Other than that the changes were cosmetic and mostly associated with simplifying the differences between producing M2s and M3s.
 

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Kadija_Man said:
Interesting. Is that twin-co-ax MGs?

Nope. It’s a wooden engineering mock up so everything doesn’t quite look like it should. The two tubes are to represent the barrel and the gas piston housing of a MAG (M240) machinegun. On the initial Bradley turret configuration the MG was mounted on its side. Later changed to a convention up and down arrangement with a new turret mantelet on the M2/M3A2 configuration.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Pioneer said:
Ah ha I found it - It was the XM723 T-BAT-II

That's just an XM723 fitted with the Bradley turret. The 'missing' link between the two.

Sorry Abraham Gubler, but I was under the impression that the Bradley was a derivitive of the XM723 - with it's original one-man turret, cannon and most sadly it's troop carry number rearanged to facilitate yet another Army change of specifications and wants :eek:

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Abraham Gubler

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Pioneer said:
Sorry Abraham Gubler,

What for?

Pioneer said:
but I was under the impression that the Bradley was a derivitive of the XM723

That’s right.

Pioneer said:
- with it's original one-man turret, cannon and most sadly it's troop carry number rearanged to facilitate yet another Army change of specifications and wants

Not quite as simple as that but basically yes. The reduction in troops was to fit in the two man turret and TOW missiles. Which was a brilliant move. The effectiveness of an infantry battalion to resist a Soviet tank attack was significantly increased by the Bradley’s turret at the loss of a not so significant 100 or so bayonets.
 

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The movie Pentagon Wars and to a lesser extent the book primarily rely on ignorance of the armour needs and specifics of the Bradley to create the appearance of scandal. To understand it better it’s important to address the three specific survivability issues in relation to the supposed Bradley scandal.

Firstly is what Col. Burton was empowered to investigate. Which was the concept of “vaporifics” that is aluminium armour would react more dangerously to penetration by a shaped charge warhead than steel armour. That is the aluminium armour would produce toxic gases, more overpressure and the like behind the armour after a hit compared to a comparative level of steel armour. The testing carried out by live fires on Bradleys failed to demonstrate this to any kind of level that would make a difference to the target vehicle and its crew.

Secondly is that the Bradley was designed without enough armour. This is the most ridiculous of arguments and also the one with the most mileage. The Bradley was designed to be resistant to splinters from nearby bursts of 152mm high explosive shells and hits from 14.5mm armour piercing bullets fired by Soviet heavy machineguns. These of course are not the only Soviet weapons on the battlefield but they were the type of weapons the Bradley was mostly going to be exposed to in its normal mode of use on a linear battlefield.

This protection requirement was based on how armoured personnel carriers (APCs), later renamed infantry fighter vehicles (IFV), were to be used on the linear battlefield in places like West Germany trying to stop a Soviet invasion. That is the vehicles move the infantry forward through the area target suppression fires of the Soviets but don’t close with the enemy to destroy them. The infantry do the later on foot. It is this closing with the enemy on the battlefield that exposes an APC to the fires of anti-tank weapons like the RPG or BMP’s 73mm gun. Weapons that are not effective at long range. Also the APC didn’t have to worry about long range anti-tank weapons like guided missiles or enemy tank guns because it was never to remain stationary while exposed to enemy direct fires like a tank does. However the type of suppressive fires they would face are artillery barrages and long range machinegun fires.

When the earlier APCs were designed (M75, M59, M113) the typical Soviet weapons used for suppressive fires were 122mm artillery and 7.62mm machineguns. So they were designed to be resistant to these weapons. But in the 1950s and 60s the Soviets upgraded these weapons to 152mm artillery and 14.5mm machineguns. So the Bradley and its predecessor the XM723 were specified to be resistant to these more lethal weapons the Soviets would use for their area supression.

In non-linear battles APCs were found to be exposed to anti-tank fires. As was seen in counter insurgency wars or deep penetration offensive actions like the IDF applied in Lebanon in 1982. Since they were never designed to be resistant to these types of weapons they suffered high losses. But this was for the US at least a secondary requirement as the primary and most important battlefield was the linear defensive war in West Germany. After the Bradley was introduced the Soviets upgraded the BMP with a 30mm gun that could fire bursts of armour piercing ammunition to long range in place of the 14.5mm gun. This required an upgrading of the Bradley’s armour in the A2 version to be resistant to the 30mm armour piercing round. While claimed as a response to the Burton trials it had nothing to do with it.

The third issue about vehicle survivability that Burton seized upon when the vaporifics issue was shown to be so much hot air was crew survivability after a penetrating hit. This argument, completely factually correct, was that the APCs like the Bradley with their fuel and ammunition stored inside alongside the large number of human occupants were highly dangerous after being hit and penetrated. That the sympathetic explosions of the fuel and ammunition made it extremely unlikely any of the crew would escape the vehicle after being hit.

This was of course no surprise to anyone involved in the design and use of APCs including the Bradley. Because of course it wasn’t designed to be exposed to these kinds of fires in the first place so why make it survivable to such a hit? You don’t build a street car to survive a roll over at speeds over 250 kph (~150 mph) because they don’t drive that fast. But you do build a racing car to survive such a roll over. However the sight of a burnt out APC is as emotive as a crushed street car even if the likelihood in the primary means of operations was extremely low. Burton was able to get the Army to build a Bradley with all fuel and ammunition moved to separate armoured boxes within or outside the vehicle. This vehicle was never entered into production however and fans of the Pentagon Wars frequently mistake this vehicle for the A2 armour upgrade. Even though the later vehicle retained all of its fuel and ammunition inside the vehicle alongside the occupants.

Since the end of the Cold War and an increasing focus on counter insurgency and offensive operations the US Army and others have upgraded their protection requirements for APCs. Now they are often as high as tanks and with high flank protection. But this does not invalidate the effectiveness of the original design of protection for the Bradley. A vehicle that at its time of introduction was along with the West German Marder the most protected APC in the world and if asked to do what it was designed for would have provided adequate protection for infantry mobility in West Germany against a Soviet invasion.
I agree that the Bradley was not intended to stand up to a tank, but the fact that it had a high profile turret with a gun meant to kill lightly armored vehicles of similar capability demonstrate that it certainly was created with a stand-up infantry fighting capability. It would certainly be exposed to ATGMs in this role and to test survivability in this regime was certainly warranted.

The issue was never direct fire tank rounds. This was always insta-death from kinetic forces. The issue was RPGs and man portable ATGMs, many of which produced highly survivable damage if you can prevent internal fuel and ammo discharge for at least 10-15 seconds.

Burton was not incorrect about these threats whatsoever. Bradleys were intended to skirmish with and suppress enemy infantry platoons, and they certainly had these weapons aplenty.

The Bradley proved to be somewhat vulnerable to man portable shaped charges, so much so that Bradleys were withdrawn from Iraq in favor of MRAPs which were cheaper, faster and just as survivable under most conditions.
 

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