The Biden Administration is reportedly considering providing Ukrainian forces with Bradley Fighting Vehicles to bolster Ukraine’s ground combat capabilities.
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According to a recent report by Bloomberg citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the US government is discussing the potential transfer of these armored vehicles as part of an additional military support package.
However, a final decision is yet to be made.
It is also unclear when these vehicles would be operational, the people familiar with the issue told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity.
As EurAsian Times has discussed earlier, Ukrainian officials have been lobbying the Western governments to supply main battle tanks but without success so far.
In September, a senior US defense official said during a routine press briefing that the option to provide Ukraine with American tanks is “absolutely on the table.”
The remarks by the US defense official gave rise to speculations that the American-made M1 Abrams tanks could arrive on the Ukrainian battlefield. However, the M1s could pose a challenge for the Ukrainian military in terms of maintenance and logistics, as they are powered by complex gas turbine engines that consume a lot of fuel.
While most Western and Soviet-era tanks use more conventional diesel engines, the T-64 and T-80 series, particularly those produced in Ukraine, also have gas turbine engines.
However, the later variants and derivatives of the T-80, including Ukraine’s modernized T-84 Oplot, switched to diesel engines that were easier and less expensive to maintain.
Nevertheless, the US government seems to be considering providing Ukraine with Abrams’ famous war buddy, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV), which fought alongside the Abrams during Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, scoring several kills against the Soviet-designed T-72 tanks.
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV)
Manufactured by BAE Systems, the M2A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicle is a medium armored vehicle whose primary function is to provide protected transport for infantry squads into close contact with the enemy.
It has a welded aluminum armor hull, with the front arc having a spaced laminated aluminum and steel armor construction. It also has explosive reactive armor blocks and an NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) protection system.
Bradley is known to be tough to kill. During Desert Storm, only three BFVs were lost to enemy fire. While in Operation Iraqi Freedom, there were increased losses of up to around 150 Bradleys because of their vulnerability to improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenade attacks. The casualties were light, with the crew being able to escape.
As for the firepower, the BFV is armed with a two-man turret fitted with a 25mm dual-fed Bushmaster chain gun that can fire both armor-piercing and high explosive rounds.
The chain gun can counter any threat on the battlefield, including armored personnel carriers (APCs) or infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), dismounted infantry, and trucks. During Desert Storm, one Bradley even took out a T-72 with this chain gun!
For tanks, the Bradley has the BGM-71 Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided (TOW) missile launcher loaded with two missiles. The BGM-71E TOW can engage targets more than three kilometers away and is armed with a shaped charge weighing around 5.89 kilograms.
Additionally, there is also a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun. A remarkable fact about Bradley’s combat record is that during the US military operations in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, the Bradley-series armored vehicles destroyed more Iranian armored vehicles than Abrams MBTs.
Bradley Boost For Ukraine
“Bradleys would provide a major increase in ground combat capability because it is, in effect, a light tank,” Mark Cancian, a former White House defense budget analyst now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg.
“Unlike the previously provided M113s, the Bradley is heavily armed with a powerful 25mm gun and TOW anti-tank missiles. The United States has many Bradleys, though some are older and need upgrades, so inventories are not a problem.”
Cancian noted that it would be months before Ukraine could deploy the BFVs as it would take time to train the crews and maintainers on the vehicles.
“The Bradley would be a significant improvement over current Ukrainian fighting vehicles,” said David Perkins, a retired four-star general who, as a brigade commander, sent tanks into Baghdad during the US invasion of Iraq and later headed the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.
According to Perkins, the Bradley is “more than a match” for Russia’s infantry fighting vehicles and its T-72 tanks.
Michael Allen, who held national security policy roles during the presidency of George W Bush, and is currently the managing director of Beacon Global Strategies, said that providing Ukraine with the BFVs would be “significant because most experts are forecasting that the war will be more like Kherson than Kharkiv, that is to say, more grinding and incremental than a breakthrough a weak line and recapturing hundreds of square miles.”
As EurAsian Times reported earlier, the battle in Kherson was one of attrition. While the Russian forces eventually had to withdraw from large swathes of land in Kherson, they severely damaged the Ukrainian forces fighting them.
The Ukrainian servicemen fighting in Kherson described the battle as “very difficult and slow-going,” with Ukrainian forces heavily outnumbered in terms of military equipment, personnel, and ammunition.
Therefore, Bradley could undoubtedly be a significant addition to the ground combat capabilities of the Ukrainian military, which is already anticipating a fresh Russian offensive in the spring.
“Bradley is fast and maneuverable and suits our political objectives to give the Ukrainians weapons to hasten the war’s end,” said Allen. “Also, Ukraine is desperate for armor generally.”