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What is the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle the US Wants to Send to Ukraine?

© Flickr / 1st BCT, 1st CDSoldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, prepare to qualify on their M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Oct. 6, 2014 in Grafenwoehr, Germany
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, prepare to qualify on their M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Oct. 6, 2014 in Grafenwoehr, Germany - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.01.2023
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The Biden administration has been looking to send M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to Ukraine as other NATO allies hold similar debates about equipping Kiev with similar and heavier armor.
It’s not a tank, even though it looks like one. Nor is the Bradley an armored personnel carrier (APC), even though that’s what it was designed to replace. In fact, the Bradley IFV is none of these things, even though it’s expected to be all of them and more at some time or another.
So what’s the deal with this strange weapon of war that Washington wants to send to Kiev?

What is an Infantry Fighting Vehicle?

The M-2 Bradley was the Pentagon’s delayed response to the mechanized infantry tactics pioneered in Europe after the Second World War. In the German, French, and Soviet armies, IFVs became a way for APCs to participate in the fight after dropping off their troops on the battlefield. Their bigger guns could not just fire in self-defense, but could provide cover for disembarking troops and even take on other lightly armored vehicles.
Such vehicles also had to be fast enough to keep up with main battle tanks like the M1 Abrams, which can hit 45 miles per hour on a road and 30 mph offroad.
  Bradley infantry fighting vehicles  - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.01.2023
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What Can the Bradley Do?

However, in drafting plans for the Bradley, Pentagon planners wanted a vehicle that could not just transport infantry or take on comparable lightly armored vehicles, but go toe-to-toe with main battle tanks as well. On top of it, they wanted the Bradley to serve as a reconnaissance vehicle and to have amphibious capabilities, too.
The result was a design that did many jobs adequately, but none as well as the singular-role specialized vehicles that had done them in years prior. The Bradley comes in different configurations with different designations - M2, M3, M4, etc. - depending on which role it is intended for.
The Bradley that entered US Army service in 1981 was a tracked vehicle with a top road speed of 40 mph and 4.5 mph in water, a laminate armor encasing aluminum, and space for three crew and six passengers. Mounted on its turret are a 25-millimeter Bushmaster chaingun, a 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun, and two launchers for the BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile. It can also be fitted to carry M47 Dragon or FGM-148 Javelin missiles instead.

How Many Does the US Army Have?

BAE Systems has built 6,785 Bradleys in total, including 400 for Saudi Arabia. Lebanon has also received 32 Bradleys, and Croatia has made a deal to buy 89 units from the US.
The US has several armored brigades equipped with the Bradley IFV deployed in Europe, including as far east as Poland and Latvia.

How Much Does a Bradley IFV Cost?

It's unclear how much any Bradleys sent to Ukraine might cost, but in negotiations last summer to buy the newest version - the M2A4 - the US Army was prepared to pay $4.3 million each.

How Has the Bradley Performed in Combat?

While it performed admirably during Operation Desert Storm and supposedly destroyed more Iraqi tanks than the M1 Abrams did, during the US’ later occupation of Iraq, the Bradley fared more poorly, and by 2007 the US Army had traded out the vulnerable Bradleys for the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
The Pentagon has tried several times to develop a replacement for the Bradley, but all such programs have been canceled.
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