The United States is set to escalate deliveries of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, after the assets were shown taking significant losses in failed offensives against Russian forces. These have reportedly resulted in the losses of several dozen vehicles. A new aid package including 15 more Bradleys, as well as 10 wheeled Stryker armoured personnel carriers, among other assets, represents the 40th which the Biden administration has announced that will involve pulling weapons from the U.S. Military’s own stockpiles to send to Ukraine. Its purpose is to help Kiev “retake its sovereign territory and support Ukraine’s air defenders.” With the Bradley seeing its relatively brief production run concluded in 1995, the number of vehicles available in American stockpiles remains limited with no successor vehicle having entered production. While American and other Western material support to the Ukrainian war effort is expected to largely be decided by the outcome of Ukraine’s new offensives against Russian forces, which were initiated in the first week of June, it remains uncertain the extent to which it will replenish lost hardware piece for piece. NATO’s military stockpiles, and those of European states in particular, have fallen critically low over the past 18 months as a result of both their limited industrial capacities and the massive rates at which armaments and ammunition have been expended in the conflict.
The U.S. has already donated 113 M2A2 Bradleys to Ukraine, with each equipped with 25mm guns and anti tank missiles as their primary armaments. With Washington having also announced that it will begin to supply depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine, these may be used to enhance the firepower of new batches of Bradley fighting vehicles. The Bradley’s design has for decades caused controversy due to the limitations of its armour protection, as demonstrated both during testing and in the Iraq War – with the latter seeing well over 100 destroyed according to a wide range of reports. With the vehicles having very limited uses in the Pacific theatre, where the bulk of American military attentions are focused, the Pentagon may well be willing to devote a larger portion of its inventories to the war effort in Ukraine than it would for other kinds of hardware such as surface to surface missile systems. Bradleys only began to see significant use in Ukraine following the initiation of new offensives in early June, alongside a range of new Western supplied assets such as Leopard 2A6 tanks. While Leopard tanks have been captured, it remains uncertain whether any Bradleys have also been obtained by Russian forces.