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Ukrainian army deploys Bradley M7 BFIST target detection system

According to a tweet by Status-6 on September 4, 2023, Ukrainian Forces made their inaugural deployment of the Bradley M7 Fire Support Team (BFIST) on the Zaporizhzhia front. This vehicle, designed for target identification and facilitating the coordination of indirect artillery fire, seems to be equipped with the Bradley Reactive Armour Tiles (BRAT) dynamic protection kit.
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Ukraine deploys Bradley M7 BFIST target detection system against Russian troops (Picture source: Status-6/Twitter)

The M7 Bradley BFIST system, tailored for target spotting and streamlining the coordination of indirect artillery fire, boasts an operational range of up to 20 kilometers, rendering it compatible with systems such as the M142 HIMARS, M270 MLRS, and various munitions, including the M982 Excalibur 155mm precision howitzer rounds. This deployment follows the United States' announcement in February 2023 regarding the delivery of four M7 BFIST vehicles to Ukraine.

Originally based on the Bradley M2A2 ODS-SA Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), these vehicles have undergone a significant transformation. The traditional launcher unit for TOW anti-tank missiles has been replaced with advanced target location equipment and a variety of sensors, all geared towards improving their ability to spot targets and effectively coordinate artillery fire.

The M7 Bradley BFIST, officially known as the M7 Bradley Fire Support Team Vehicle (M7 BFIST), was introduced into service in 2000 and is operated by a crew of four. Its mobility is facilitated by a 600hp Cummins VTA-903-T600 engine, providing a maximum road speed of 61 km/h, while exhibiting amphibious capabilities with a speed of approximately 6 km/h on water. Additionally, it boasts an impressive range of 400 kilometers. The vehicle's maneuverability is substantial, capable of handling gradients of up to 60%, side slopes of 40%, vertical steps of 0.76 meters, and trench crossings of 2.54 meters. Furthermore, with proper preparation, it can ford water at a depth of approximately 1.2 meters.

The M7 Bradley BFIST plays a pivotal role in forward observation and target designation, facilitating the call for artillery fire and guiding precision-guided munitions to designated targets with precision. Equipped with advanced target location equipment and sensors, it offers built-in battle management capabilities complete with GPS and inertial navigation, ensuring precise target coordinates and fire coordination. Regarding armament, the vehicle is equipped with a 25 mm Bushmaster chain gun and a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun for self-defense, with ammunition loads of 900 rounds for the main gun and 2,200 rounds for the machine guns.

The M7 Bradley BFIST is armored to withstand 30 mm armor-piercing ammunition and 14.5 mm heavy machine gun fire, and there is an option to incorporate explosive reactive armor for added protection against anti-tank rockets and missiles. The vehicle is powered by a dependable Cummins 600 horsepower diesel engine, albeit with a somewhat constrained speed due to its weight. Notably, it retains its amphibious capabilities, allowing it to traverse inland rivers and lakes through the use of inflatable buoyancy tanks and tracked propulsion. Sharing mobility, survivability, and battlefield characteristics with the M2A2 Bradley IFV, the M7 Bradley BFIST is also transportable by military transport aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster III or C-5M Super Galaxy.


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