Experience the Power of the M88A2 HERCULES Armoured Recovery Vehicle for Battlefield Rescue and Recovery

M88A2 Hercules: The Ultimate Armoured Recovery Vehicle

The M88A2 Hercules is a formidable armoured recovery vehicle specifically designed for battlefield rescue and recovery missions, offering unmatched support and assistance. Derived from the original M88 Hercules, developed by Bowen McLaughlin York (BMY), the M88A2 is an advanced variant that builds upon its successful predecessor. With its introduction in 1977, the M88A1 paved the way for further improvements.

In 1994, BMY merged with Food Machinery and Chemical (FMC) to form United Defense Industries, which was later acquired by BAE Systems Land and Armaments in 2005. As of today, BAE Systems is the proud manufacturer of the M88A2.

The M88A2 recovery vehicle fully meets the US Army’s requirements for a well-equipped recovery vehicle, capable of safely performing towing, winching, and recovery operations in war zones. It has the ability to tow and winch inoperative heavyweight M1A1/2 Abrams tanks, providing essential support on the battlefield. Furthermore, the M88A2 is equipped and designed for repairs to other supported vehicles, further enhancing its utility.

Introduced into the US Army in 1997, the M88A2 armoured recovery vehicles have proven their worth in conflicts such as the Gulf and Kosovo wars.

M88A2 Armoured Recovery Vehicle Construction

The M88A2 was initially designed by BMY in 1959, taking inspiration from the chassis and automotive parts of the M48 and M60 Patton vehicles. The M88A2’s design is divided into three sections: hydraulics, engine, and crew compartments.

The hydraulic system is specifically designed to provide sufficient power for track maintenance and recovery operations, featuring a 19mm drive hydraulic winch. The vehicle is equipped with an XT-1410-5A cross-drive transmission, allowing for three-speed forward and one-speed reverse gears. The M88A2 can carry a crew of three, consisting of a commander, operator, and mechanic.

Armoured Recovery Vehicle Winching Power

The Hercules has an impressive recovery capability, with the ability to recover combat vehicles weighing up to 70 tons, including Leopard, M1A1, M1A2, and bridging systems. The M88A2 has been technically improved to provide superior winching ability, featuring a long 35-ton boom and a 140,000lb constant pull main winch. This recovery vehicle is also equipped with an 85.3m (280ft) cable and an auxiliary 3-ton winch.

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Compared to its predecessors, the M88A2 offers 55% more winching power, 40% more lifting strength, and 25% extra towing muscle. Its versatility extends beyond recovery operations, as it can provide refueling and de-fueling facilities to vehicles when required, as well as being used for slave-starting and hydraulic winching.

M88A2 Anti-Personnel Mine Protection

The hull of the M88A2 Hercules is designed to offer exceptional protection against anti-personnel mines, artillery fragments, and small arms fire. For self-protection, the vehicle is equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun boasting 1,300 rounds. Its capabilities extend to evacuation, recovery, and repair of battle tanks and other vehicles on the battlefield. The M88A2 is equipped with armoured track skirts, smoke screen generators, and provides protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) attacks.

Air-Cooled Twin Turbo Diesel Engine

Powering the M88A2 is the continental AVDS-1790-8CR, V12 air-cooled twin-turbo diesel engine, generating an impressive rated power of 1,050hp. The vehicle is equipped with an enhanced propulsion system and an auxiliary power unit (APU) that offers auxiliary electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not operational.

To enhance mobility, the M88A2 features enhanced engine horsepower, improved power-assisted steering, electrical systems, and braking performance. With a fuel capacity of 1,563 liters and a road speed of 48km/h, it ensures efficient and reliable operations in various terrains.

M88A3 Hercules: A New Level of Performance and Responsiveness

The M88A3 Hercules represents an upgraded configuration of the M88A2 vehicle, designed to provide enhanced performance, survivability, and responsiveness. BAE Systems was awarded a contract of $318 million in September 2019 to upgrade the M88 recovery vehicle, enabling the battlefield recovery of an upgraded Abrams tank. This project is expected to be completed in 44 months. A single M88A3 is capable of recovering the advanced version of the M1A2 Main Battle Tank (MBT). The upgrade includes improvements to the existing powertrain, suspension, tracks, while enhancing the speed, reliability, and overall capability of the vehicle.

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M88A2 Orders and Deliveries

The US Army has been a significant buyer of the M88A2, with multiple orders placed over the years. In November 2006, a contract worth $251 million was awarded for the delivery of 113 M88A2 vehicles, with deliveries concluding in 2009. Additional orders included 90 army-configured vehicles and four vehicles for the US Marine Corps in 2008, and a further 39 vehicles in 2009. BAE Systems also received contracts for the conversion of M88A1 hulls into M88A2 Hercules vehicles, with a total of 914 vehicles procured by February 2020.

The M88A2 has also garnered international interest, with countries such as Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, and Morocco placing orders. The Australian government took delivery of six new vehicles in April 2017, while Morocco and Kuwait have also made substantial purchases. In May 2001, BAE Systems was awarded a contract by the Egyptian Defense Forces for the co-production of 13 M88A2 recovery vehicles. In October 2012, Iraq received eight M88A2 vehicles, followed by an additional eight vehicles in 2010. In August 2021, the US State Department approved the potential sale of five M88A2 Hercules vehicles to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US.

The M88A2 Hercules has undoubtedly made its mark as an indispensable asset on the battlefield, supporting and enabling the recovery and repair of crucial vehicles. Its unparalleled capabilities, robust construction, and continuous upgrades make it an invaluable addition to any modern military fleet.

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