The US Army has awarded BAE Systems a $318 million contract to upgrade M88 recovery vehicles to the M88A3 configuration designed for single-vehicle recovery of the latest version of the Abrams tank.

The new M88A3 configuration eliminates the necessity of using two vehicles to raise and move the tanks, which have increased in weight in recent years.

“As the U.S. Army’s primary recovery vehicle, the M88 plays a critical role in the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Team,” said Dennis Hancock, recovery programs director for BAE Systems’ Combat Vehicles business.

“We have partnered closely with the Army and industry partners to develop a solution that addresses the single-vehicle recovery gap. We are proud to continue to support the Army’s recovery needs by providing a next-generation solution to effectively rescue disabled tanks from the battlefield.”

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, say BAE in a release.

“The contract is being awarded under an 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.

Due to incremental weight increases of the Army’s Main Battle Tank over the years, the M88A3’s predecessor, the M88A2, is currently unable to safely perform single-vehicle recovery of the Abrams. BAE Systems has invested Independent Research and Development to develop the M88A3 for three years in an effort to identify, understand, and provide solutions to return to single-vehicle recovery of the tank.”

The work will be performed at BAE Systems’ facilities in York, Pennsylvania; Aiken, South Carolina, Anniston, Alabama, and Sterling Heights, Michigan.

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maurice10
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maurice10

US recovery tanks have always looked under parr when compared with the UK versions? A somewhat lightweight machine, but that’s just my visual assessment.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

How many Challenger ARRV are still around?

maurice10
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maurice10

Around 80 were built but with the rapid exit from running MBT’s, I doubt more than 50 remain in the British army? The LEP programme will be as little as 130-40 units, so my prediction maybe, right? However, the ARRV’s are used to recover other vehicles, so, there may be more than I say? Why the UK is leaving the main battle tank to history is a puzzle, as there is no better way of punching a hole in the enemies lines than a battel tank. The current daft thinking began about ten years ago by opponents of the MBT,… Read more »

Glass Half full
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Glass Half full

Why would the UK ever want to be in a massed tank-on-tank battle though? The plan is surely to use F-35 stealth/sensor air assets backed up by 4-gen missile trucks (UK’s and other NATO partners for both) to degrade the A2AD of the opposition, using SPEAR3 kinetic and EW variants in the UK’s case, then counter the opposition air cover for their tanks using Meteor (no dog fighting) and then use weapons like Brimstone to attack the armour. I’m not suggesting it would all be as simple as this sounds, but Iraq demonstrated the vulnerability of armour to unopposed air… Read more »

maurice10
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maurice10

What you say makes eminent sense however, it can be dependant on weather and location. In the Iraq War most of their fighting vehicles were exposed with little if any air cover. You are assuming that the British Army will have a free hand and not dependant on ground forces making headway using MBT’s. In truth, I don’t believe much has really changed in the 70 odd years since WW2, where without mass MBT deployment we would not have pushed into Germany at the rate we did. Without a worthy fleet of MBT’s we leave our land forces bereft of… Read more »

Glass Half full
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Glass Half full

I am cautious about using history too much as predictor for future effects because capabilities change. That said, I used Iraq as an example because the allies were very focused at the outset on ensuring the Iraqi air force and air defenses were disabled or destroyed, which then enabled the air dominance. Weather may be a factor again, as it has many times in the past, but Russia in this example has to make the calculus that they would have favourable conditions to act, or risk a very bad outcome if they get the forecast wrong. Even if they can… Read more »

Rokuth
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Rokuth

I have only one thing to say about this: Murphy’s Law.

Yes, I am the “Glass half empty” person…

BB85
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BB85

Not every scenario will be like Iraq where the enemy air defense is neutralised immediately leaving their ground forces exposed in open desert. Also without US involvement Europe does not have the ability to overwhelm any enemy in the air or the ground through sheer weight of numbers. Launching an attack with a hand full of cruise missiles and Typhoons in somewhere like Ukraine would have been overwhelmed in no time by inferior but numerically superior Russian armour and sams.

maurice10
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maurice10

As long as Russia and China keep developing MBT’s, then the West should do the same. The argument that the UK does not need a mass of MBT’s because we are not landlocked is questionable? Why then do Australia, Japan, need MBT’s? The UK has fought most of its wars across the globe and against opposing tanks, so I really don’t get the current MOD thinking? If I was in the infantry I think the presence of a 62ton tank would give me some reassurance. Modern ballistic protection devices are increasing MBT survivability, thus making the case for retention even… Read more »

Airborne
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Airborne

Hope BV buster will comment on this. MBTs play a part in a balanced force and every modern, 1st tier military needs them. With the various hard kill self defence suites on the market such as iron fist, fitting these give any armoured force an increased survivability rate, essential with the reduced numbers involved.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

The West should continue to develop tanks, my position is against the UK’s need for them. Mainland Europe definitely needs them. Both Japan and Australia are possible candidates for invasion in a way that the UK is not. I am questioning the cost and benefit of MBT’s for UK foreign operations where we will have allies who can provide this capability.

I’m not arguing that MBTs have no place in current and future conflict, but if you cannot provide air cover/defense then no amount of self defense will hold off saturation attack.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

@BB85, OK, but I didn’t say that every scenario would be like Iraq. What was achieved was exceptional and Iraq was not a Tier 1 opponent but it does practically demonstrate the importance of air superiority. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with your other comments? I didn’t suggest action without the US. Again not sure what point you’re making with Ukraine?

BB85
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BB85

Don’t worry about the second point it wasn’t aimed at you necessarily it was aimed at the view point that some people think mbts are a thing of the past. Militaries will never be able to take and hold ground without heavy armour and a lot of it. It wasn’t long ago that Germany moth balled all of its mbts which as the largest continental power in the EU was a complete disgrace. I don’t blame trump for threatening to pull out of nato because the way they have free loaded is a complete disgrace.

Boris Johnson
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Boris Johnson

“Also without US involvement”

The US doesn’t have that ability either…

pete
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pete

They seem to think 130 will be operational , however a number will be waiting for spares or repairs which they always seem not factor into their planning!

maurice10
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maurice10

Failure to concentrate enough resources on CH2, since entering service, simply means operating American M1’s in any protracted conflict. And that would probably only happen if the UK was fighting in the same conflict. I can’t see any other option open to the British Army, other than some ally willing to lease Leopard 2’s?

Boris Johnson
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Boris Johnson

There’s 400 not 130…

Oscar Zulu
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Oscar Zulu

Australia will also upgrade its MA88’s to A3 standard. The LAND 907 Phase 2 project budgeted for $750 million to $1 billion, to both upgrade M1A1 Abrams to the M1A2 variant and current M88A2 to the M88A3 variant.

The ADF is also planning to introduce under armour obstacle breaching and bridging capability based on an M1 tank chassis under LAND 8160 Phase 1 – 3 variants: Armoured Breacher Vehicle, an Armoured Bridge Launcher and an Armoured Engineering Vehicle (AEV).

Oscar Zulu
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Oscar Zulu

In other news from down under Ajax has also missed being down selected for the Australian IFV Land 400 program. Ajax was deemed to be ‘not fit for purpose’ (unclear why) while the CV90 was regarded as too expensive. The final two contenders are Rheinmetall’s Lynx and Hanwha’s AS21 Redback. While the both of these platforms are based on existing platforms (Lynx is derived from the Marder and Redback from the South Korean KT21), they have yet to enter service in their proposed form anywhere so Australia would be their lead customer. This may make both players very keen to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

My take on Tanks. We need them to maintain the capability, yes, but not in large numbers. We should stop trying to be a land power defending Eastern Europe. By all means make a contribution, for solidarity with NATO. But just that. I certainly would not prioritise Tanks over the Royal Artillery and other smart weapons. We should be a sea, air and intelligence power, formed as an expeditionary force with global reach, which is primed to defend the GIUK gap, the Atlantic, and Norway, They should be our priorities. Further afield we have the PJOB’s to operate from if… Read more »

Trevor
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Trevor

Very sensible.

Airborne
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Airborne

Correct mate, we have assets in place second only to the US, such as ISTAR, RFA, transport aircraft, AAR, top of the line light deployable formations, and much more. However a total re-balancing is needed, and HMG need to stop pretending we have formations that we cannot deploy, or even support when they get to wherever they are going, never mind actually fighting and winning any battle once in place. Let European NATO members supply the majority of armour, and we can supply all the enablers and the key niche formations and equipment we already have. And it may hurt… Read more »

Finney
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Finney

Agree completely. If we were maintaining tank forces to protect France and the Low Countries it might make sense, but to deploy in Eastern Europe it just doesn’t make sense. A) Russia invading any of the Baltics is pretty remote, less than 25% Russian population in each of them, no resources, would turn the entirety of Europe against them. They’ve already realised they’ve bitten off more than they can chew in less than 15% of Ukraine, a non-Nato state. Don’t quite understand the obsession with the Baltics by some on here. B) If they actually did go Baltic, would British… Read more »

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Spot on Finney, but don’t bet me on the issue of Ajax, Boxer and the planned use and deployment of them in the absolute waste of time so called Strike Brigades. Thats another subject all in itself, mixing tracks and wheels, therefore negating the advantage of both. And using Ajax as a medium armour……..god! And I won’t go on about the lack of HET, logistics, organic Arty/AD assets and a concept of operations which looks like a childs Xmas wish list!

Airborne
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Airborne

Bet me, bloody predictive text, get me…..

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

The focus on the Baltics arises from Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine. No one expected those Russia’s actions, even after Georgia, and the unthinkable became fact. The Russian ethnic population in the Baltics may serve to provide a justification for Russian actions based on “protecting them”, as in Crimea, and provides a possible opportunity to create division within the countries. The value of the Baltics is in their geographic position rather than any resources. However, perhaps the most likely potential threat is a Russian leader needing to distract a disenchanted domestic population, similar to the Argentinian invasion of the… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Nice summary