The future of war - Bradley HYBRID electric vehicles
The infantry has been the literal beating heart of any army throughout history. While other units like cavalry or tanks tend to get all the glory, you can only take and hold a position with soldiers on foot.
However the infantry is often the most numerous part of an army, but it is also the most vulnerable. Soldiers have had different kinds of personal armor over the years, but the invention of guns made personal armor ineffective.
This is one of the reasons that armored fighting vehicles, such as tanks, were first developed to cross the war-torn battlefields of World War I. Yet, even with a tank’s impressive armor and firepower, the infantry is the only way, ultimately, to win a war.
Military strategists quickly realized that what was needed was a vehicle that had the durability and protection of tanks and more room to move troops into the middle of the battle. And so the concept of mechanized infantry was born.
Armored personnel carriers (APCs) soon appeared during the Second World War and proved incredibly effective at increasing the survivability and effectiveness of an army’s precious troops. No longer would they need to cover a lot of open ground unprotected.
But these early APCs lacked the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the heaviest enemy battle tanks. A new kind of vehicle was needed: the infantry fighting vehicle, or IFV for short.
First developed by the Soviets, the Americans quickly followed suit with the development of the now-famous Bradley IFV.
During the “Cold War,” added threats to soldiers came from potential nuclear fallout and chemical and biological attacks, for which troops also needed adequate protection. To this end, the first iteration of the Bradley, the M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, and the M3 Cavalry Fighting Vehicle was developed, which combined the properties of an armored personnel carrier (APC) and a light tank.
It proved a great success and has since cemented its role in the United States Army to the present day.
But even the impressive M2 and M3 are now aging and in dire need of an upgrade.
But how can you improve on perfection? Well, hybridization might be the answer.
The U.S. Army is looking into whether a hybrid electric and combustion engine would improve the already impressive Bradley IFV. This will enhance its fuel efficiency and provide other benefits like reducing its heat signature and offering a “silent running“ mode.
Hybridization will also reduce the number of moving parts needed for the machines, with knock-on benefits of reduced maintenance time and costs.
Both of these would prove invaluable on the battlefield for obvious reasons.
The new Bradley, called the BHEV, is currently undergoing evaluation and, if successful, could provide the basis for the next iteration of this already highly impressive piece of military hardware.