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M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle

Categories: Military engineering
us army
M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle


Date: 2015-10-20
The Source (author):

The M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System or HERCULES is a further development of the previous M88A1. This armored recovery vehicle was specially developed to support the Abrams main battle tanks. A prototype armored recovery vehicle, based on the Abrams chassis was developed in the 1980s, however it was not accepted to service and it was decided to produce the improved M88A2. It is worth mentioning that two M88A1 ARVs were required in order to tow the M1A1 Abrams tank. A more powerful M88A2 Hercules was introduced in the early 1990s. Deliveries of this armored recovery vehicle commenced in 1997. The US Army operates over 500 of these ARVs, however overall requirement is for 748 vehicles. US Marine Corps operate another 75 vehicles. Export operators are Australia and Egypt and Iraq (16).

The Hercules is slightly larger and heavier than it`s predecessor. It also has a more powerful "A" frame-type hoisting boom and winch. Typical tasks of this heavy ARV include recovery of damaged, stuck, swamped or overturned tanks on the battlefield. It also provides maintenance service in the field or tows them to maintenance units.

The crane has a 31.8 t capacity. It is used to lift disabled vehicles, turrets, powerpacks, or other loads. If repairs are required to a vehicle`s suspension, the crane raises the front of back of the vehicle to allow access to the damaged system. When not required the crane lays on top of the roof.

The main winch has a 63.5 t capacity. It is used for recovery of damaged, stuck, sunken and overturned vehicles. There is also an auxiliary winch. It is used for delivery of the main winch rope and other cargo handling operations.

The front-mounted dozer blade is used to stabilize the vehicle during craning and winching operations. It can be also used for clearing obstacles and light earth-mowing works, such as covering up of ditches and so on.

Vehicle has a welding outfit for welding and cutting works in the field. These are carried by one of the crew member. The Hercules also has a set of tools for field repairs.

The M88A2 ARV tows damaged, faulty or uncontrolled tanks or armored vehicles using rigid or non-rigid hitches to the nearest shelters, assembly points of repair depots.

This armored recovery vehicle has improved armored protection over it`s predecessor. Armor of the M88A2 and withstands hits from 30-mm projectiles. It also withstands and anti-tank mine blast under the hull. Vehicle is additionally fitted with side skirts. The Hercules is equipped with NBC protection system.

Armament of the Hercules recovery vehicle is limited to a roof-mounted 12.7-mm machine gun for self-defense. This weapon is operated by the vehicle commander.

The Hercules has as crew of three, including commander, driver and rigger. All crew members have their separate hatches in the roof of the superstructure. There is also a door in each side.

The M88A2 is fitted with a more powerful Continental AVDS-1790-8DR turbocharged diesel engine, developing 1050 hp. It is coupled with Allison XT-1410-5A transmission. It has improved speed and range comparing with the previous M88A1. The Hercules is also fitted with auxiliary power unit which powers all systems and add-on equipment when the main engine is turned off. In case of emergency the Hercules recovery vehicle can refuel the Abrams MBT from it`s own fuel tank. The M88A2 can be fitted with a deep wading kit. After preparation it can ford water obstacles up to 2.6 m deep.

Specifications of the M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle

Entered service 1997
Crew 3 men

Dimensions and weight

Weight 63 t
Length 8.6 m
Width 3.7 m
Height 3.2 m


Lifting capability 31.8 t
Winch capacity 63.5 t
Towed load ~ 63 t


Machine guns 1 x 12.7-mm
Engine Continental AVDS-1790-8DR diesel
Engine power 1 050 hp
Maximum road speed 48 km/h
Range 500 km


Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 1.1 m
Trench 2.6 m
Fording 1.4 m
Fording (with preparation)

M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle M88A2 Hercules Armored recovery vehicle

Date: 2015-10-20
The Source:

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