The M88 Recovery Vehicle is one of the largest armored recovery vehicles (ARV) currently in use by United States Armed Forces. There are currently three variants, the M88, M88A1 and M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lifting Extraction System). The M88 series has seen action most noticeably in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent during the Kosovo War, where they were deployed to help recover heavy armored vehicles of the Allied ground units.
The design of this vehicle was based on the chassis and parts of the automotive component of the M48 Patton and M60 Patton tanks. The original M88 was introduced in 1961, M88A1 in 1977, with the current M88A2 introduced in 1997. Originally manufactured by Bowen McLaughlin York (later the BMY division of Harsco Corporation) in 1961, the company would later merge with FMC Corp. to form the United Defense Industries in 1994, which was in turn acquired by BAE Systems in 2005 to become BAE Systems Land and Armaments.
The M88’s primary role is to repair or replace damaged parts in fighting vehicles while under fire, as well as extricate vehicles that have become bogged down or entangled. The main winch on the M88A2 is capable of a 70-ton, single line recovery, and a 140-ton 2:1 recovery when used with the 140 ton pulley. The A-frame boom of the A2 can lift 35 tons when used in conjunction with the spade down. The spade can be used for light earth moving, and can be used to anchor the vehicle when using the main winch. The M88 employs an Auxiliary power unit (APU) to provide auxiliary electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not in operation. It can also be used to slave start other vehicles, provide power for the hydraulic impact wrench, as well as the means to refuel or de-fuel vehicles as required.
While the original M88 and M88A1 are designated as a “Medium Recovery Vehicle”, the M88A2 (original designation being M88A1E1) is designated as “Heavy Recovery Vehicle”. They are all similar in many fundamental ways however, the later version is distinctly heavier (70 tons, compared to the original 56 tons) and uses a different engine. On February 20, 2017, it was announced that the United States Army had contracted BAE Systems Land and Armaments a $28 million contract modification for the procurement of 11 M88A2 recovery vehicles. The vehicles (former M60 series tanks) would be converted to M88A2 Hercules models at a York, Pennsylvania facility.