BAE Systems has unveiled the possible successor to the US Army's veteran Bradley Fighting Vehicle at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington DC. The Next Generation Bradley concept vehicle is designed to demonstrate an improvement in the Bradley's capabilities while keeping down costs.

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle first entering service in 1981, but its development can be traced to back to the 1950s when the US Army began developing the infantry fighting vehicle as a fast piece scout/troop carrier capable of keeping up with main battle tanks while dealing with Soviet armor. Over the decades, shifting needs, advancing technologies, and concerns about vulnerability brought on many upgrades, resulting in vehicle weight jumping from 8 to almost 30 tons.

The Pentagon has considered a number of options for replacing the Bradley, including a complete blank sheet redesign, but recent budget cuts have required a rethink. BAE is betting that an improved version of the Bradley using existing systems borrowed from other vehicles is an answer that the US Army will find attractive.

"In the current budget environment, the Army often has to choose between maintaining an existing fleet and developing new capabilities," says Deepak Bazaz, director of Artillery and Bradley Programs at BAE Systems. "We're investing in research and development to demonstrate cost-effective options for the Army to address current gaps. We're focused on integrating current, emerging, and future technologies to significantly improve the Bradley's mobility, force protection, and lethality."

The new vehicle could replace the previous version of the Bradley shown here(Credit: BAE Systems)

The concept Bradley has an upgraded chassis with more underbelly armor to deal with IEDs, compartments for fuel and ammunition for greater safety, and more electrical power in anticipation of new technologies. The suspension has been upgraded to allow it to keep up with the US Army's main armor groups, and there's an improved turret, tracking sensors, and better connectivity.

In keeping with its strategy of borrowing from other designs, the Bradley concept has the armor, fuel tanks, and the driver's hatch from the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle; the 600-volt electronics and drives from the M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzer; and a general design that has more in common with other BAE vehicles, so parts and systems can be swapped between them.

BAE says that the prototype will be used to develop new technologies and act as a development, experimentation, and evaluation testbed.

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