Croatian Prime Minister discuss with Defense Minister on US Bradley M2A2 ODS offer

According to Total Croatia News, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in a Twitter post on Monday, January 3, that a meeting was held with Defense Minister Mario Banožić and representatives of the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces regarding the U.S. offer to equip the Croatian Army with the Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in M2A2 ODS version.
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M2A2 ODS Bradley IFV (Picture source: US DoD)

The Croatian Defense Ministry said on its website on 28 December that Minister Banožić took part in a working meeting with PM Plenković and government members as well as Armed Forces officials focusing on further investment and modernization of the Croatian Army, with emphasis on the US M2A2 ODS Bradley offer.

The Defense Ministry and the General Staff were requested to provide additional explanations on the offer as a good long-term investment for the land forces, the Ministry said on 28 December.

The Government of Croatia has requested to buy refurbishment/modernization and support for 76 M2A2 Operation Desert Storm (ODS) Bradley Fighting vehicles consisting of 84 M240 machine guns; 1,103 TOW 2A Radio Frequency (RF) missiles; 16 TOW 2A Radio Frequency (RF) fly‑to‑buy lot acceptance missiles; 100 TOW 2B Radio Frequency (RF) missiles; 8 TOW 2B Radio Frequency (RF) fly-to-buy lot acceptance missiles; 500 TOW Bunker Buster (BB) Radio Frequency (RF) missiles; and 8 TOW BB fly-to-buy lot acceptance missiles. Also included are M257 Smoke Grenade Launchers; ammunition; radios; simulator; special armor; Hunter/Killer technology, which may include an exportable Commander's Independent Viewer (CIV); spare and repair parts; support equipment; upgrade/maintenance of engines and transmissions; refurbishment of TOW launchers; depot level support; communication support equipment; tool and test equipment; training; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $757 million.

The prime contractors will be BAE Systems, York, Pennsylvania; and Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona. Implementation of the proposed sale will require U.S. Government and contractor personnel to visit Croatia on a temporary basis in conjunction with program oversight and support requirements, as well as to provide training and maintenance support in-country.

The M2A2 Bradley AIFV (Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle) was introduced in the U.S. Army in 1988. It is an improved version of the standard vehicle Bradley M2A1. The improvements include the following: enhanced vehicle survivability by restowing ammunition; internal armor protection of key components; spall liners and mounting provisions for improved vehicle smoke screening; additional armor protection including additional armor for the hull and turret; a ballistic shroud provided for the commander's back-up sight; and improved drive train and suspension. The U.S. Army also upgraded the earlier M2A1s to the M2A2 standard.

The A2 received an improved 600 horsepower (447 kW) engine with an HMPT-500-3 Hydromechanical transmission and improved armor (both passive and the ability to mount explosive reactive armor). The new armor protects the Bradley against 30mm APDS rounds and RPGs (or similar anti-armor weapons). The new armor also eliminated the trim vane that made the Bradley amphibious and covered up the side-firing ports. Spaced laminate armor was installed to the hull rear and spaced laminate track skirts protected the lower hull. A semicircular shield was attached to the turret rear to add more storage space as well as act as spaced armor. Kevlar spall liners were added to critical areas. The troop-carrying number was reduced to six, eliminating the periscope position behind the driver. After live firing testing, the seating and stowage arrangements were redrawn. These upgrades raised the cumulative gross weight of the vehicle to 30,519 kg (67,282 lb (30.037 long tons; 33.641 short tons)). The M2A2 was qualified to be transported by the C-17 Globemaster III. M2A2s were all eventually modified to M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm) or M2A3 standard.

After Operation Desert Storm (First Gulf War in 1991), the M2A2 was upgraded again with the addition of an eye-safe carbon dioxide laser rangefinder, global positioning system and compass, combat identification system, and thermal viewer for the driver. The 1,423 M2A2 Bradleys brought up to this standard were referred to as M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm). In August 2018, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) received the fourth and final batch of eight M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) as a part of the U.S. military aid program to Lebanon. In December 2019, the U.S. Government announced a plan to donate almost 60 Bradley M2A2 in ODS (Operation Desert Storm) configuration to Croatia, according to a statement issued by Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic, reports.