The Iraqi Army is getting eight new M88A2 HERCULES armoured recovery vehicles from manufacturer BAE Systems through a $31.8m contract announced on 8 October 2012.
The M88A2 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System) is one of three versions of the M88 armoured recovery vehicle range (besides the standard M88 and the M88A1).
The M88 dates back to the 1960s, while the M88A1 emerged in the late 1970s and the M88A2 HERCULES is a 1990s upgrade. M88 variants have an extensive combat history, having been deployed in Vietnam, the Gulf region and Kosovo and more examples have served with the US Army than with any other military user.
M88A2 HERCULES Recovery Vehicle
Compared to the M88 and M88A1, the M88A2 HERCULES recovery vehicle is larger, boasts more effective armour and, using its main winch, can lift loads weighing up to 70 tonnes. Other key M88A2 HERCULES features include power-assisted braking enabling loads up to M1A1 tank weight to be towed and augmented electrical and hydraulics systems.
According to BAE Systems, there's no other equivalent vehicle that can match the M88A2 in terms of costs and, equally, nothing else powerful and versatile enough to recover M1A1 and M1A2 vehicles and Leopard Main Battle Tanks.
Iraqi Army HERCULES
Work is expected to get underway on the eight Iraqi Army HERCULES in Q4 2013, concluding in Q2 2014.
"BAE Systems is answering the need for a cost-effective, self-supporting, heavy recovery performance vehicle", explained BAE Systems Vehicle Systems' Vice President, Mark Signorelli, in an 8 October press release. "HERCULES will provide the Iraqi military with a recovery vehicle that has been tested and proven to tow and hoist today's heaviest combat vehicles."
The Iraqi Army dates back to 1917 but the modern-day version has been built up, with heavy US influence, since the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. These M88A1 HERCULES will be the most modern recovery vehicles to join the Iraqi Army but it already operates older Polish WZT-2 and Russian BREM-1 recovery vehicles.