Ukrainian soldiers have relied on US-made Bradley fighting vehicles to stay alive in combat.
Bradley crewmembers have praised the armor for being strong and durable on the battlefield.
In a recent interview, one soldier said the Bradleys are “priceless” during nighttime assaults.
US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles have proven invaluable for nighttime operations against Russian forces, a Ukrainian soldier said, describing the armored transport as strong, durable, and highly capable in combat.
Throughout its months-long grinding counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military has relied on its arsenal of M2A2 Bradleys to brave incoming Russian fire, navigate across sprawling minefields, and face other deadly hazards. Kyiv’s soldiers have credited the vehicles with keeping them alive in battle, saying that they wouldn’t survive the same threats in Ukraine’s Soviet-era troop carriers. In some cases, Bradleys have even been send to rescue civilians stranded under heavy fire.
In a recent video interview with Ukraine’s Strategic Communications Directorate, which was published on Thursday by the country’s defense ministry, a Bradley crew from the 47th Mechanized Brigade described their experience training on the vehicle and then employing it on the battlefield. The interviewees — a commander, gunner, and driver — praised the Bradley for being strong and for its ability to withstand mine blasts.
“It’s a serious machine, a very serious machine,” a soldier said.
One soldier described the Bradley’s thermal imager of being “very high quality,” allowing the crew to clearly see targets several miles out. He said that although the firepower range of the Bradley is lacking — its primary gun is a cannon that can fire hundreds of 25 mm rounds a minute — its projectiles can still cause significant damage.
“The shrapnel density is crazy, the firepower density is just insane,” the soldier said. “Target acquisition takes seconds, just seconds. At night, this machine is absolutely priceless, simply invaluable. You capture targets much faster, visibility is better than during the day.”
Another soldier said comparing the Bradley to its Soviet-era counterparts is like “night and day.” He said the vehicle is “suitable for breakthroughs,” and is capable of undertaking defensive roles and evacuating wounded troops.
Highly maneuverable and capable of traveling at speeds of over 40 mph, Bradleys are heavily armored vehicles that can transport up to six fully equipped troops to and from the battlefield, provide fire support, and carry out reconnaissance missions. They are armed with Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles — capable of hitting enemy tanks and armored vehicles in the distance with high explosive warheads — and two guns, including the 25 mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun and a 7.62mm M240C machine gun.
The Bradley was initially built as a response to Soviet infantry fighting vehicles, and it entered service in the 1980s before being deployed to the Gulf War in the following decade. According to a 1992 Government Accountability Office report on the Bradley’s performance during that conflict, the vehicle “proved to be lethal” and its weapons demonstrated that they were “effective against a variety of targets.” The Bradley was then sent to Iraq in the 2000s.
The US announced in early January that it would send Bradleys to Ukraine, and because it is a tracked vehicle, it was initially misidentified by some observers as a tank. “It’s not a tank, but it’s a tank killer,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said to reporters at the time in an attempt to clear the apparent confusion.
“It will provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s already impressive armor capabilities. And we’re confident that it will aid them on the battlefield,” Ryder said.
Indeed, these vehicles eventually reached the battlefield in April, giving Kyiv a significant armor boost alongside other heavy weaponry provided by NATO countries that was delivered ahead of the much-anticipated counteroffensive. But despite the heavy praise by Ukrainian soldiers, Bradleys are not indestructible and they have still fallen victim to Russia’s formidable defenses and relentless artillery in the months since.
According to the latest Pentagon data, the US has pledged a total of 186 Bradleys to Ukraine as part of the nearly $44 billion in security assistance that the Biden administration has committed to Kyiv since Russian forces invaded in February 2022. Open-source intelligence collected by the site Oryx shows that 53 of the Washington-provided vehicles have been destroyed, damaged, or abandoned during fighting.
It does not appear to be the case that any of the Bradleys have been captured by the Russians, and Ukrainian crews have repaired some enough to return to combat.
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