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U.S., Allies Say Armored Vehicles Will Give Ukraine’s Troops an Edge

The U.S., France and Germany have said they will send dozens of armored infantry vehicles to Ukraine, a significant deployment of Western support at a critical juncture in its war against invading Russian forces.

President Biden said Thursday that the U.S. would provide Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a tracked vehicle that resembles a tank but with a smaller gun, fulfilling months of requests from Kyiv. The Bradleys are part of a new military-aid package—which officials said they expected to outline formally Friday—that would include other munitions, vehicles and weaponry. 

Germany, meanwhile, said it would send Marder infantry vehicles, and France said it would send AMX-10 wheeled armored vehicles.

The vehicles will give Ukraine a new armed and armored capability, enabling its forces to roll mechanized infantry troops into the fight and giving them a higher level of maneuverability and firepower.

“It will provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s already impressive armored capabilities and we’re confident that it will aid them on the battlefield,” said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, adding that it will be particularly effective against Russian tanks. “It’s not a tank but a tank-killer,” he said.

Gen. Ryder declined to give details on the types of Bradleys that would be provided, how long it would take to furnish them or the time that would be needed to train Ukrainians on the vehicles. 

Germany’s chancellor

Olaf Scholz

decided to send the Marder vehicles as well as one battery of the Patriot missile-defense system following a conversation Thursday with Mr. Biden, a German government spokesman said. 

Ukraine needs an array of equipment to reconstitute after heavy losses in recent months and to arm itself for coming offensives.

The West’s decision to provide the vehicles isn’t necessarily a major inflection point, but another turn of security assistance with more and better equipment, said Michael Kofman, the research director for Russian studies at

CNA,

a think tank.

“We are more than 10 months into the war now and it’s clear that the West is searching for what additional capabilities can be provided to Ukraine to help it achieve victory,” he said. “As the war drags on, this search will entail digging into the repertoire of capabilities that are available and nations changing policy over time on those weapons or systems that they were previously withholding.”

The vehicles offer a number of advantages to Ukrainian forces. As with wheeled Australian Bushmasters and Turkish Kirpi mine-resistant armored personnel vehicles that have already been sent, they can transport infantry near front lines in relative safety, giving Ukrainian troops more mobility and impunity than they otherwise would have. If the U.S. provides the vehicles in large numbers, that could give Ukraine a serious advantage. 

American Armor

Bradley fighting vehicle can speed troops to the frontlines

Max speed:

Firing range:

Weight:

In service:

Origin:

38 miles per hour

230 miles

22.6 tons

1981

U.S.

Can carry up to 10 personnel

depending on model

Main gun

25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun

BGM-71 TOW anti-tank

guided missile launcher

Can carry up to 10 personnel

depending on model

Max speed:

Firing range:

Weight:

In service:

Origin:

38 mph

230 miles

22.6 tons

1981

U.S.

BGM-71 TOW anti-tank

guided missile launcher

Main gun

25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun

Can carry up to 10 personnel

depending on model

BGM-71 TOW anti-tank

guided missile launcher

Max speed:

Firing range:

Weight:

In service:

Origin:

38 mph

230 miles

22.6 tons

1981

U.S.

Main gun

25mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun

Can carry up to 10 personnel

depending on model

Max speed:

Firing range:

Weight:

In service:

Origin:

38 mph

230 miles

22.6 tons

1981

U.S.

BGM-71 TOW anti-tank

guided missile launcher

Main gun

25mm M242

Bushmaster chain gun

Max speed:

Firing range:

Weight:

In service:

Origin:

38 mph

230 miles

22.6 tons

1981

U.S.

BGM-71 TOW anti-tank

guided missile launcher

Main gun

25mm M242

Bushmaster chain gun

Can carry up to 10 personnel depending on model

Wheeled vehicles such as the AMX-10 can move faster than tracked vehicles, giving Ukrainian forces vital speed against slow-moving Russian forces. Even tracked Bradleys, which have an official top speed of around 35 mph, can move quickly, with soldiers reporting having driven them above 50 mph.

Wheeled vehicles generally must stay on roads or firm ground, unlike tracked vehicles, which can drive through mud, sand and other unstable types of terrain. But wheeled vehicles normally get better gas mileage, giving them greater autonomy in operations. They also ordinarily require less maintenance than tracked vehicles.

While AMX-10s and Bradleys don’t have cannons as tanks do, they carry guns that can be lethal. The AMX-10 is referred to as a “tank killer” because it fires shells almost as large as those of a tank that can pierce tank armor. Bradleys carry TOW missiles that can destroy most tanks.

Both vehicles have better passive and active protection, targeting equipment, and secondary guns than almost any Russian tank or comparable vehicle.

France has committed to giving Ukraine fast AMX-10s.



Photo:

emmanuel dunand/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Poland gave Ukraine more than 240 modernized Soviet-type tanks early in the war. Now, Poland is considering a request from Ukraine to donate its German-made Leopard main battle tanks, a senior Polish diplomat said. 

“They are for real considering giving anything just to help Ukraine,” said a Czech official closely involved in helping ship western arms into Ukraine, who confirmed that request.

The Leopards are much more heavily armored, and more protected against antitank weapons, than the vehicles France, Germany, and the U.S. have so far offered. 

Poland has more than 240 Leopard tanks, enough for two tank brigades, and plans to eventually unload all of them, said Slawomir Debski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, a Warsaw think tank close to the Polish government. The pace at which it could give those to Ukraine depends on how quickly Poland receives replacement tanks it has ordered from manufacturers in South Korea and the U.S., he said. Berlin would also need to approve.

“It’s a question of not if, but when,” said Mr. Debski, adding that the Western reluctance to provide tanks was finally diminishing after months of diplomatic pressure. “It’s exactly something Poland has argued for, for many months.”

Write to Gordon Lubold at gordon.lubold@wsj.com and Daniel Michaels at Dan.Michaels@wsj.com

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