New footage released by multiple Russian sources on July 22 has shown several M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles destroyed on the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine. The footage was reportedly taken near the Rabotino settlement in the Zaporozhye Region, around 50km east of the Dnepr River, and shows a tightly packed group of four disabled and heavily damaged vehicles on flat terrain with destroyed Ukrainian tanks visible in the distance. The full composition of the armoured group, and the means by which it was destroyed, remain uncertain. Both Western and Russian sources have widely acknowledged that Bradley losses confirmed by open sources are in the dozens. The first images of the vehicles taking heavy losses, alongside German supplied Leopard 2A6 tanks, emerged in June, with Washington having continued to pledge supplies of new batches of the vehicles since then. Shortly preceding the first deliveries of the vehicles in April, the Pentagon claimed Bradleys were “tank-killers” that could provide “a level of firepower and armour that will bring advantages on the battlefield.” Although lacking large calibre guns like the M1 Abrams tank’s 120mm smoothbore cannon, the Bradley’s anti tank missiles and depleted uranium rounds provide some anti armour capabilities. The class’ armour protection levels and survivability, however, have been very frequently criticised since it was in its development stages.
Having produced Bradleys in considerable numbers in the final decade of the Cold War, and up to 1995, the United States maintains thousands of vehicles in its domestic stockpiles where they were previously expected to remain until retirement. The fact that the vehicles are not expected to make significant contributions to a war effort in East Asia, which is currently the Pentagon’s primary focus, means depleting reserves to support the Ukrainian war effort is not a significant loss for the United States. With the class long since out of production diminishing the Bradley’s reputation is not expected to have impacts on America’s arms export profile either, in contrast to other asset types such as Patriot missile batteries for which losses in Ukraine have become a much more sensitive issue for America. Ukraine has sought to compensate for the Bradley’s very limited protection against anti armour rounds by applying Soviet explosive reactive armour, although modern Russian anti tank missiles such as the air launched Vikhr-1, which has taken a significant toll on Ukrainian armour, have been designed specifically to counter such forms of armour protection.