BAE Systems was awarded a contract modification for continued production of the Bradley A4. New production contract modernizes and equips the U.S. Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams with increased capability. The award includes the M7A4 Fire Support Team Vehicles, also known as the Bradley M7 BFIST (Bradley Fire Support Team). The M7 BFIST replaces the aging M981 “Hammerhead” fire support team vehicle (FIST-V) in selected mechanized units. The vehicle provides company fire support teams and battalion/brigade fire support officers with a vehicle platform where they can locate, plan, coordinate, execute and direct timely, accurate, indirect field artillery and mortar fires. The BFIST vehicle, has been setting new standards of precision target location and controlling precision indirect fires for the last few years.
The M7 BFIST is a modified M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm) Bradley fighting vehicle that has been equipped with a specialized fire support mission equipment package (MEP). The M2A2 ODS BFIST program dates back to the mid-1990s with the initial vehicle designs completing preproduction qualification testing and limited user testing during the second and third quarters of fiscal year (FY) 1997. TIn addition to providing the critical fire support teams with the same mobility, survivability and battlefield signature as the A2 series Bradley, the M7 provides fire support teams with one 25 mm ATK Gun Systems Company M242 Chain Gun, one coaxial machine gun M240C 7.62mm caliber for selfdefense. Most important, the M7 design provides, for the first time, the ability to “target on the move.”
The new M7A4 BFIST is based on the latest generation of Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) in service with the U.S. army which is the Bradley M4. The Bradley M4 is based on the M993 M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) carrier chassis and is designed to provide an automated tactical command post and operations centers. It was designed to replace the M113-based M577A2 Command Post Carrier. Around 25 vehicles were finally produced for the US Army. The new M7A4 BFIST rovides designation under armor and Target Location Error 90 (TLE90) level target grid coordinates to support precision munitions Calls For Fire. An estimated Target Location Error (TLE) is automatically generated and populated in the Call For Fire (CFF) eliminating the need for manual target grid refinement.
The main features of the Bradley M7 BFIST (Bradley Fire Support Team) also differ from the Bradley platform we are familiar with – the FiST. For example, the weight of the entire rig is 72,300 lbs, and the engine already provides 600 horsepower. The Fire Support Team Vehicles is motorized with a Cummins VTA-903T turbocharged 8-cylinder diesel engine developing 600 hp. at 2,600 rpm. The vehicle can run at a maximum road speed of 61 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 400 km. The torsion bar suspension of the BFIST consists on each side of six dual rubber-tired road wheels with the drive sprocket at the front and the idler at the rear. This engine needs 155 gallons of fuel, guaranteeing a maximum range of 250 miles. The top speed of the M7 BFIST is 38 mph.