Fighting vehicle system carrier, Launch rocket system carrier
VEHICLES BASED UPON THE BRADLEY
As an interim air defense measure, Stinger antiaircraft missiles were deployed on the standard Bradley infantry fighting vehicle system carrier. General Electric proposed the installation of the Blazer antiaircraft turret on the Bradley chassis. This turret was armed with two, four tube, Stinger missile launchers as well as a GAU-12/U 25mm Gatlingtype gun. The 25mm gun was provided with 360 ready rounds and Hydra-70 2.75 inch rockets also could be carried.
During April and May 1996, a new air defense version of the Bradley armed with the Stinger missile was under limited operational testing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Referred to as the Bradley Stinger fighting vehicle-enhanced (BSFV-E), it also was named Linebacker. The U.S. Army procured eight Linebackers for evaluation. Utilizing the Avenger air defense system hardware and software, the Bradley Linebacker was armed with a four missile armored launcher on the left side of the turret. It retained the 25mm Bushmaster cannon and the 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. The tests at Eglin and the following June at Roving Sands, New Mexico were highly successful and funds were available in late 1996 for the procurement of 51 additional Linebacker fire units.
VEHICLES BASED UPON THE BRADLEY
As mentioned earlier, the fighting vehicle systems program was expanded in June 1979 to include a third vehicle in addition to the XM2 and XM3. The new member of the family was the general support rocket system (GSRS) carrier. As its title indicated, it was intended to transport a mobile long range artillery rocket system to support fast moving combined arms forces. The new vehicle used a lengthened chassis based upon the components of the XM2 and XM3 fighting vehicles. In fact, the vehicle was soon referred to as the fighting vehicle system carrier (FVS). It was to be the basis for a family of vehicles related to the M2 and M3 in much the same way that the M548 series was related to the M113 family, although the new carrier was armored.
The three man armored cab on the FVS carrier was located just in front of the 500 gross horsepower VTA-903 diesel engine and above the HMPT-500 transmission and final drives. The cab tilted forward to permit access to the power train. The Bradley torsion bar suspension was used with six dual road wheels per side. However, the road wheels were spaced out in groups of two increasing the ground contact length to 170.5 inches and the upper track run was supported by two dual and two single track return rollers.
If required, a lock-out system could be installed on the suspension to stabilize the vehicle. The Bradley's 21 inch wide tracks were used with 89 and 88 track shoes on the left and right respectively compared to 84 and 82 on the M2 and M3. The hull itselfwas fabricated from 5083 aluminum alloy armor. The cab was assembled using 7039 aluminum alloy armor and the windows were fitted with armor glass. Armor louvers could be lowered to protect the windows during operations. They were opened and closed by levers from inside the cab. When not in use, the louvers could be stowed to permit unobstructed vision. An overpressure ventilation system was installed in the cab for NBC protection.
The FVS carrier, now designated as the XM987, was proposed for a wide variety of applications including maintenance and recovery vehicles, forward area resupply vehicles, mine launchers, command post and communication vehicles, antiaircraft vehicles, and various TOW missile launcher. The originally proposed general support rocket system (GSRS) was the first to be developed. As far back as September 1977, contracts had been awarded to the Boeing Aerospace Company and the Vought Corporation to develop prototypes of the GSRS. In both cases, the prototypes, as finally developed, used the FVS carrier as the basic vehicle. When modified for this application, the carrier was designated as the XM993. Originally, 210mm diameter rockets were specified for the new system.
The prototypes were under test from December 1979 through February 1980 and after their evaluation, the Vought candidate was selected in May 1980. The new weapon was designated as the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) that same year. Low initial rate production began in early 1982 and the first firing batteries were equipped in the 1st Infantry Division in early 1983.
The production MLRS consisted of the M270 ground vehicle mounted rocket launcher on the multiple launch rocket system carrier M993. Suspension lock-out was installed on the 1st, 5th, and 6th road wheel arms. The M270 launcher carried two rocket pods each loaded with six 227mm M26 rockets. Each rocket was about 12.9 feet in length and weighed 676.5 pounds. Carrying 644 M77 submunitions, the M26 rocket had a range of about 32 kilometers.
The solid fuel rocket was supported by a sabot and studs on helical rails inside the launch tube. This imparted a slight spin to the rocket when it was launched. Other payloads included 28 AT2 antitank mines or six SADARM (sense and destroy armor) sub-munitions. The rockets could be fired one at a time or in rapid sequence up to the full load. The combat weight of the MLRS was 52,990 pounds. It had a maximum road speed of 40 miles per hour and a cruising range of about 300 miles. The three man crew consisted of the driver, gunner, and section leader.
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