At least 34 U.S.-supplied Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs) have been rendered inoperable during Kiev’s counteroffensive against Russian forces, according to reports. These armored vehicles were seen as potential game-changers when the U.S. agreed to provide them to Ukraine earlier this year. However, it seems that they have faced significant difficulties in staying operational amidst fierce resistance from Russian forces.
Citing open-source data from military research firm Oryx, Business Insider reported that 34 Bradleys “have now been visually confirmed as having been abandoned, damaged, or destroyed.” The U.S. has supplied as many as 109 BFVs to Ukraine, with their deployment on the battlefield starting in April.
The majority of losses occurred in the early days of the counteroffensive, which began last month. Ukrainian forces encountered heavily mined territory laid by Russian troops. The losses sustained by Ukraine’s NATO-trained 47th Mechanized Brigade were estimated to be around 30% of its Bradleys in just two weeks, according to the New York Times.
The BFV is a tracked and lightly armored vehicle capable of transporting approximately ten soldiers. It is equipped with a 25mm cannon and a TOW anti-tank missile launcher. When the Biden administration decided to send the BFVs to Ukraine in January, the Pentagon touted them as “tank-killers” that would provide a significant advantage on the battlefield. Some military experts even believed that the Bradleys could be a game-changer, potentially enabling Ukraine to retake Crimea. Russian officials, however, warned that the BFVs and other Western-supplied weaponry would only prolong the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
With dozens of Bradleys and other hardware being incapacitated by Russian forces, Ukrainian units have had to abandon their armored vehicles and advance on foot, according to the Washington Post. The minefields laid by Russian troops have made it increasingly challenging for Ukraine to rely solely on armored vehicles. Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, stated, “You can no longer do anything with just a tank with some armor because the minefield is too deep, and sooner or later, it will stop, and then it will be destroyed by concentrated fire.”
Despite the setbacks, the Biden administration recently announced an $800 million military aid package for Ukraine, which includes an additional 32 BFVs. The U.S. has also agreed to send cluster bombs to Kiev, citing disappointment with the progress of the counteroffensive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the shipment of cluster munitions to Ukraine would constitute a war crime. Regarding captured Western weaponry, such as the BFVs, Putin revealed in an interview that Russian specialists would use reverse engineering to adopt any military technology useful to Moscow.
These recent developments highlight the complex and evolving nature of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. While the provision of military aid aims to support Ukraine’s defense capabilities, it is clear that challenges still persist, with a significant number of armored vehicles being impacted by Russian forces. The consequences of these losses and the ongoing conflict will continue to shape the dynamics in the region.