M88A2 HERCULES Armoured Recovery Vehicle

The M88A2 HERCULES (heavy equipment recovery combat utility lift and evacuation system) is a self-supportive armoured



Original Variant Built

1961 to present

A2 Variant Built



BAE Systems Land and Armaments


M88A2 HERCULES armoured recovery vehicle

M88A2 HERCULES (heavy equipment recovery combat utility lift and evacuation system).

The M88A2 HERCULES (heavy equipment recovery combat utility lift and evacuation system) is a self-supportive armoured recovery vehicle used in battlefield rescue and recovery missions.

It is a variant of the M88 HERCULES, which was designed and manufactured by Bowen McLaughlin York (BMY).

BMY merged with FMC in 1964 to form United Defense Industries. In 2005, United Defense Industries was acquired by BAE Systems Land and Armaments. The M88A2 is now being manufactured by BAE Systems.

The M88A2 recovery vehicle meets the US Army’s requirements for a well- equipped recovery vehicle, which safely performs towing, winching and recovery operations in war zones. The M88A2 vehicle can also winch inoperative heavyweight M1A1/2 Abrams tanks.

“The M88A2 vehicle can winch M1 Abrams tanks.”

The vehicle is equipped to carry out repairs to other supported vehicles in the battlefield. The M88A2 armoured recovery vehicles were introduced into the US Army in 1997 and deployed in wars in the Gulf and Kosovo.

M88A2 armoured recovery vehicle construction

BMY designed the M88 in 1959, using chassis and automotive parts from the M48 and M60 Patton vehicles as blueprints. The M88 design was divided into three sections: hydraulics, engine, and crew compartments. The hydraulic system is designed to provide sufficient power to maintain tracks and recovery operations with a 19mm drive hydraulic winch. The vehicle contains a XT-1410-5A cross-drive transmission, which works three-speed forward, one- speed reverse gears. The M88A2 vehicle can carry a crew of three, which includes commander, operator and mechanic.

M88A2 HERCULES production and development

The first M88 vehicle was manufactured by BMY in 1961. In 1977, the first variant ­- the M88A1 – was introduced. The M88A2 was introduced 20 years later in 1997.

Armoured recovery vehicle winching power

The HERCULES can recover up to 70t combat vehicles such as Leopard, M1A1, M1A2, bridging systems and other vehicles. Technically improved to give greater performance, the M88A2 was also equipped with extra armour.

The vehicle is built with a long 35t boom, and 140,000lb constant pull main winch for superior and easier winching ability. It is also equipped with 280ft cable and an auxiliary 3t winch.

“The M88A2 has been deployed in the Gulf and Kosovo.”

The M88A2 was developed to give 55% more winching power, 40% more lifting strength and 25% extra towing muscle.

It can provide refuel and de-fuel facilities to vehicles when required and be used for slave-starting and hydraulic winching.

M88A2 orders and deliveries

In May 2001, BAE systems was awarded a $21.8m contract by the Egyptian defence forces for the coproduction of 13 M88A2 recovery vehicles.

In November 2006, the US Army ordered 113 M88A2 vehicles in a $251m contract. The contractual scope also includes supply of spare parts and extension of system technical support to the US Army. The deliveries were completed in 2009.

In 2008, the US Army placed another order with BAE Systems for 90 M88A2 army-configured vehicles and four vehicles for the US Marine Corps. The contract was worth $185m. Another 39 vehicles were ordered by the US Army under an $81.4m contract awarded in May 2009.

In July 2010, BAE systems received a $70m contract to convert 30 US Army M88A1 hulls into M88A2 HERCULES vehicles.

The US Army placed a $165.5m contract for 43 vehicles in July 2011.

In August 2011, BAE was awarded a $108.4m contract to provide 29 HERCULES vehicles to the US Army and 16 vehicles to the US Marine Corps.

In October 2012, BAE was awarded a $31.8m contract to deliver eight more M88A2 vehicles to the Iraqi Army. BAE delivered eight M88A2 vehicles to the Iraqi Army in 2010.

The US Army requires 748 armoured recovery vehicles. BAE Systems delivered 500 vehicles to the US Army and 75 vehicles to the US Marine Corps by October 2012. The remaining deliveries are expected to be completed by December 2013. Till date, the US government has awarded contracts worth $1.4bn to BAE systems for the HERCULES vehicles programme.

M88A2 anti-personnel mine protection

The hull of the M88A2 Hercules is designed to offer protection against anti-personnel mines, artillery fragments and small arms fire. The vehicle is equipped with .50 calibre machine gun with 1,300 rounds for self-protection. It can perform evacuation, recovery and repair of battle tanks and other vehicles in a battlefield.

The vehicle is equipped with armoured track skirts and smoke screen generators, and provides protection against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) attacks.

“HERCULES is equipped with a .50-calibre machine gun.”

Air-cooled twin turbo diesel engine

The M88A2 is powered by continental AVDS-1790-8CR, V12 air-cooled twin-turbo diesel engine. The vehicle is equipped with enhanced propulsion system. It also employs an auxiliary power unit (APU) which offers auxiliary electrical and hydraulic power when the main engine is not in operation.

The vehicle’s fuel capacity is 413gal and its road speed is 40km/h.

The M88A2 is equipped with enhanced engine horsepower, improved power-assisted steering, electrical systems and braking performance to improve the mobility. The vehicle gives 20 to 25% better slope performance, while its 1,050hp enhances vehicle speed by 25mph without load and 17mph with load.

The Global Armoured Vehicles and Counter-IED Vehicles Market 2011-2021

This project forms part of our recent analysis and forecasts of the global armoured vehicles and counter-IED vehicles market available from our business information platform Strategic Defence Intelligence. For more information click here or contact us: EMEA: +44 20 7936 6783; Americas: +1 415 439 4914; Asia Pacific: +61 2 9947 9709 or via email.

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