Biden OKs sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine

Biden OKs sending Bradley Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine

An M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle from 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, moves into position to conduct a firing systems check at the Presidenski Range, Trzebian, Poland. (US Army/Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner)

WASHINTON — For the first time the US will send Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the Ukrainian military as part of a new, significant security assistance package to be announced Friday, the Pentagon confirmed today.

Speculation has swirled for several days over if and when Washington would announce that decision. Following a call between US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, this afternoon the White House said the US “intends” to provide those armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. Germany will send its Marder infantry fighting vehicles along with an additional German Patriot air defense battery.

“Things like the Bradley [and] things like the Patriot, which are complex systems, are going to require a training and an operations tail,” Ryder said during a subsequent press conference at the Pentagon. 

“We’re at a point in this battle, where we’re going to be able to provide that kind of training to enable Ukraine to sustain those kinds of systems so that they can focus on defending their country and taking back territory,” the one-star general added.

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Although Ryder spoke broadly about the decision to send Bradleys to the Eastern European country, he declined to provide specific details about the numbers, timing and training plan until the Biden administration unveils the larger security package on Friday. However, he noted that Bradleys heading to Ukraine will be armed, and the Pentagon will provide training as part of its plan to ramp up combined arms maneuver training for Ukrainian forces in Germany. In total, the goal is to train approximately 500 Ukrainian forces at the battalion level each month, he added. Bloomberg reported Wednesday the US was finalizing talks with Ukraine about the Bradleys.

The overall aid package set to be announced Friday is worth some $2.85 billion, according to The Associated Press.

There are several variations of the tracked M2/M3 Bradley vehicles, but broadly speaking each vehicle is crewed by three people — a commander, gunner and driver — and can transport six soldiers. Although the service does not deem these vehicles as tanks, they are heavier than similar combat vehicles in its class and are armed. Each one typically weighs in at 28 tons, has a range of 482 kilometers, is outfitted with a 25 mm chain gun, and can carry two TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) missiles designed to pierce tank armor. 

“It’s an armored capability that can transport mechanized infantry into battle in support of both offensive and defensive operations, providing a level of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield as Ukraine continues to defend their homeland,” Ryder said.

The Biden administration has previously pledged to send Ukraine tracked M113 multi-purpose armored personnel carriers but up until now has resisted pleas from Ukraine to send combat vehicles that could be viewed as more offensive in nature, like the Bradley and M1 Abrams main battle tank.

Ryder didn’t say why the administration had apparently changed its mind but noted that the war is in a different stage today than several months ago. When asked if the Bradley decision was a turning point and the US is now considering sending Abrams to Kyiv, Ryder said, “We’re going to keep all options on the table.”