M88 Recovery Vehicle
The M88 Recovery Vehicle is one of the largest armored recovery vehicles (ARV) currently in use by United States Armed Forces. There are currently three variants, the M88, M88A1 and M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lifting Extraction System). The M88 series has seen action most noticeably in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the War in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent during the Kosovo War, where they were deployed to help recover heavy armored vehicles of the Allied ground units. As of 2000, the M88A2 replacement cost is around US$2,050,000.
|M88 Recovery Vehicle|
|Type||Armored recovery vehicle|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See operators|
|Wars||Arab–Israeli conflict, Vietnam War, Lebanese Civil War, Persian Gulf War, Kosovo War, Iraq War, War in Afghanistan|
|Designer||Bowen McLaughlin York (BMY)|
United Defense and Anniston Army Depot (1994–2005)
BAE Systems Land and Armaments (since 2005)
|No. built||1690 (all variants)|
|Mass||M88/M88A1: 50.8 t (112,000 lb)|
M88A2: 63.5 t (140,000 lb)
|Length||27.13 ft (8.27 m)|
|Width||11.25 ft (3.43 m)|
|Height||10.25 ft (3.12 m)|
|Armor||Hull and cab armored to protect against small-arms fire up to 30mm direct fire weapons|
|M2 .50 cal heavy MG with 1,300 rounds|
|Engine||•M88/M88A1: Continental (now L-3 CPS) AVDS-1790-2DR V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine|
•M88A2: Continental AVDS-1790-8CR, V12 air-cooled Twin-turbo diesel engine
M88/M88A1: 750 hp (560 kW)
M88A2: 1,050 hp (780 kW)
|Transmission||Twin Disc XT-1410-5A cross-drive (3 speed forward, 1 speed reverse)|
|Suspension||Torsion bar suspension|
|Ground clearance||17 in (0.43 m)|
|M88/M88A1: 450 km (280 mi)|
M88A2: 322 km (200 mi)
|Maximum speed||M88/M88A1: 42 km/h (26 mph)|
M88A2: 48 km/h (30 mph)
The design of this vehicle was based on the chassis and parts of the automotive component of the M48 Patton and M60 Patton tanks. The original M88 was introduced in 1961, M88A1 in 1977, with the current M88A2 introduced in 1997.
Originally manufactured by Bowen McLaughlin York (later the BMY division of Harsco Corporation) in 1961, the company would later merge with FMC Corp. to form the United Defense Industries in 1994, which was in turn acquired by BAE Systems in 2005 to become BAE Systems Land and Armaments. In February 2008 the company was awarded a $185 million contract modification from the U.S. Army to manufacture 90 Army-configured M88A2s, four United States Marine Corps-configured M88A2s and authorized spares list parts.
The M88's primary role is to repair or replace damaged parts in fighting vehicles while under fire, as well as extricate vehicles that have become bogged down or entangled. The main winch on the M88A2 is capable of a 70-ton, single line recovery, and a 140-ton 2:1 recovery when used with the 140 ton pulley. The A-frame boom of the A2 can lift 35 tons when used in conjunction with the spade down. The spade can be used for light earth moving, and can be used to anchor the vehicle when using the main winch. The M88 employs an Auxiliary power unit (APU) to provide auxiliary electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not in operation. It can also be used to slave start other vehicles, provide power for the hydraulic impact wrench, as well as the means to refuel or de-fuel vehicles as required. The M88 series of vehicles can refuel M1 tanks from its own fuel tanks, but this is a last resort due to the possibility of clogging the AGT-1500s fuel filters. The fuel pump draws fuel from the bottom of the fuel cell, and with it, all of the sediment that has accumulated with time.
- M88 – 1961
- M88A1 – 1977
- M88A2 Hercules – 1991
- M88A3 Hercules – future
The original M88 produced from 1960 to 1964 used the Continental AVSI-1790-6A gasoline engine rated at 980 HP at 2800 rpm, as well as a 10 HP gasoline auxiliary power unit. The M88A1 was powered by the Continental AVDS-1790-2DR Diesel engine and had a 10 HP Diesel auxiliary power unit. While the original M88 and M88A1 are designated as a "Medium Recovery Vehicle", the M88A2 (original designation being M88A1E1) is designated as "Heavy Recovery Vehicle". They are all similar in many fundamental ways however, the later version is distinctly heavier (70 tons, compared to the original 56 tons) and uses a different engine (AVDS 1790-8CR with 1050 hp, compared to a Continental AVDS-1790-2DR, with 750 hp).
The M88A2 is slightly larger than its predecessors (8.6 × 3.7 × 3.2 m compared to 8.3 × 3.4 × 3.2 m) thus retains a lower top speed (40 km/h) and a significantly lower road range (322 km compared to 450 km). There have also been improvements in braking and steering. Additionally, the M88A2 has upgraded armor protection including armored track skirts and applique armor panels, which both previous models lack. The M88 is also lacking in Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) defenses and a smoke screen generator, which the later M88A1 and M88A2 models are equipped with. Furthermore, the crew number has decreased from 5, to 3–4, to 3 through the series.
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.”
All variants retain an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, 432 mm ground clearance, 2.6 m fording depth, 1.1 m wall climb and 2.6 m trench crossing capabilities. There has been no major deviation in battlefield role through the M88 series, the later models are merely able to lift heavier loads. The M88A1 was designed around the now obsolete M60 Patton tanks, so it was in light of the fact that two M88A1s were required to tow the new M1 Abrams tank that the decision was made to upgrade to the M88A2 in 1991.
On February 20, 2017, it was announced that the United States Army had contracted BAE Systems Land and Armaments a $28 million contract modification for the procurement of 11 M88A2 recovery vehicles.
M88 Recovery Vehicle at recovery range in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin in 2015
U.S. Marines use an M88A1 to load a Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine back into an M1A1 Abrams at Camp Coyote, Kuwait, in February 2003.
A U.S. M88A1 out on a mission in March 2007, during the Iraq War.
A U.S. Army M88A2 Hercules at a facility in Fort Polk, Louisiana in June 2006.
One of the main issues afflicting the current M88A2 is the high rate of winch failures. The leading cause of these failures is by operating the winch without tension on the cable leading to loose wrapping and bunching up of the cable (Birdnesting). There is also concern with loss of tractive force when an M88A2 tows a heavy M1 Abrams on a slope in wet, muddy conditions. The M88A2 was extensively tested at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and on August 10, 1998 was officially approved for the towing of 70-ton combat vehicles such as the M1 Abrams.
- Australia: 13× M88A2 in service with the Australian Army.
- Austria: 10× M88A1 still in service with the Austrian Armed Forces.
- Bahrain: 4× M88A1 in service with the Royal Bahraini Army.
- Brazil: 17x M88A1 in service with the Brazilian Army
- Egypt: 221× M88A1 + 87× M88A2 in service with the Egyptian Army.
- Greece: 95× M88A1 in service with the Greek Army.
- Iraq: 29× M88A2 in service with the Iraqi Army. Another 8 ordered; to be delivered from late 2013-mid-2014.
- Israel: 25× M88A1 in service with the Israeli Army.
- Jordan: 52× M88A1 in service with the Royal Jordanian Land Force.
- Lebanon: 35x M88A1 + 2x M88A2 in service with the Lebanese Armed Forces.
- Kuwait: 14× M88A2 in service with the Kuwait Army.
- Morocco: 81× M88A1 in service with the Royal Moroccan Army
- Pakistan: 52× M88A1 in service with the Pakistan Army.
- Portugal: 8× M88A1 in service with the Portuguese Army.
- Saudi Arabia: 78× M88A1 in service with the Saudi Arabian Army. The potential sale of a further 20 was announced in August 2016.
- Spain: 1× M88A1 in service with the Spanish Navy Marines.
- Sudan: 2× M88A1 in service with the Sudan People's Armed Forces.
- Republic of China: 37× M88A1 in service with the Republic of China Army. 14× M88A2 order.
- Thailand: 22× M88A1 + 6 M88A2 in service with the Royal Thai Army.
- Tunisia: 6× M88A1 in service with the Tunisian Armed Forces.
- Turkey: 33× M88A1 in service with the Turkish Armed Forces
- United States
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