M88A3 Hercules Heavy Recovery Vehicle
M88A3 Hercules Heavy Recovery Vehicle

M88A3 Hercules Heavy Recovery Vehicle Prototypes to Reach US Army in 2022

BAE Systems receives a contract to provide prototypes of the upgraded armored recovery vehicle. The prototype M88A3 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System) armored recovery vehicles will be delivered to the US Army in 2022 for testing and evaluation, bringing this critical capability one step closer to entering service. BAE Systems announced on 21 December that it recently obtained a $79 million contract from the US Army under the M88A3 prototype program. The new M88A3 configuration eliminates the necessity of using two vehicles to recover and evacuate Abrams tanks, addressing the Army’s current single-vehicle recovery gap.

The M88A3 enhances the performance, survivability, and responsiveness of the proven M88A2. The M88A3 features several upgrades, including a modernized powertrain that improves horsepower and torque, the addition of a seventh road-wheel to increase stability, and hydro-pneumatic suspension units (PSUs) that improve cross country mobility and recovery operations. Upgraded features on the M88A3 include a modernized powertrain with increased horsepower and torque, as well as the inclusion of a seventh road wheel to increase traction. Also included are hydro-pneumatic suspension units for improved cross-country mobility and recovery operations.

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M88A3 Hercules Heavy Recovery Vehicle
M88A3 Hercules Heavy Recovery Vehicle

The M88A3 configuration features an upgraded powertrain, suspension, and tracks, increasing the vehicle’s speed, survivability, and reliability. The M88A3 also features a seventh road wheel to reduce ground pressure and new hydropneumatic suspension units (HSUs) that enable the track to be locked out for greater control when recovering vehicles. The contract is being awarded under the Other Transactional Authority (OTA) acquisition model for upgrading the M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (HERCULES) to the next generation M88A3 HERCULES. BAE Systems’ M88 family of recovery vehicles has provided the Army with unprecedented capability for recovering stranded or disabled combat vehicles since the 1960s.

The M88 Recovery Vehicle is one of the largest armored recovery vehicles (ARV) currently in use by the 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’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 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 heavily armored vehicles of the Allied ground units.

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