Ukraine Unsatisfied with American Bradley Fighting Vehicles After Extreme Losses: Swastikas Raise Controversies

Following months of reports of increasingly heavy losses suffered by Ukrainian Army units operating Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which were supplied by the United States from April 2023, CNN reported that Ukrainian personnel have expressed growing dissatisfaction with the asset’s performance against Russian forces. The American outlet described the vehicles as having served as the “tip of the spear during last year’s ill-fated Ukrainian counteroffensive” which began in early June 2023. It highlighted that with “dozens” having been “damaged and destroyed in battle,” this left the vehicles “in limited supply along the front.” Ukrainian crews were reportedly particularly critical of the vehicle’s limited “ability to weather the harsh Ukrainian winter” as well as “the state of some of the older vehicles shipped by the U.S.” The Bradley has been out of production in the United States since 1995, with the large majority of units built for the U.S. Army having a decade later already been retired or placed in storage.

Of approximately 200 Bradley Fighting Vehicles delivered to Ukraine over 80 were within five months estimated to have been lost in combat, of which Western sources confirmed more than 50. Footage released by Russian sources on July 22 showed particularly heavy losses and a ‘graveyard’ of the new vehicles near the Rabotino settlement in the Zaporozhye Region. The first images of the vehicles taking heavy losses, alongside German supplied Leopard 2A6 tanks, emerged in June, with Washington having pledged to supply new batches in the aftermath. Issues with the Bradley’s combat performances, and particularly its very limited armour protection for combat against a major state military, have been compounded by growing shortages of ammunition affecting units operating them. Interviews with personnel from the mechanised 47th Brigade were among the sources highlighting this issue, which has affected ground units across the Ukrainian Army. 

Amid ongoing questions regarding its combat performance, the Bradley gained further media attention when a video of a Ukrainian crew repairing one of the vehicles in frontline positions in the disputed Donbas regions showed Nazi symbols on their armour – a fact which was quickly widely highlighted by Russian state media outlets. Nazi symbols have frequently been sighted across Ukraine’s armed forces since before the escalation of hostilities with Russian forces in February 2022, with U.S. government reports consistently highlighting the prominence which Nazi ideology and militia units had gained in the country. German supplied armoured vehicles have also appeared with Nazi insignia, as seen on German television reports, while President Volodymyr Zelensky’s guards have been photographed with skull and bones uniform patched based on the Nazi German 3rd SS Panzer Division ‘Totenkopf’ symbol.