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6 Jan, 2023 02:54

Pentagon touts ‘tank killers’ for Ukraine

The latest “lethal aid” falls short of Kiev’s demands for more powerful weapons
Pentagon touts ‘tank killers’ for Ukraine

The US government is set to supply Ukraine with a number of armored personnel carriers in an upcoming aid package, described as “tank-killers” by a senior military official. The move follows reports that Washington is still refusing to consider heavier armor for Kiev, despite its repeated requests for the Abrams main battle tank.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder announced the latest aid on Thursday, telling reporters that Kiev will receive an unspecified number of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, as well as training and maintenance support for the armored troop carriers. 

“It is obviously 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,” Ryder said, adding “It’s not a tank, but it’s a tank-killer.”

The weapons package will include up to 50 Bradleys and other gear, according to two unnamed officials cited by Reuters, which noted that more details would come on Friday.

Ryder declined to offer a timeframe for when the vehicles might reach the battlefield, nor how long it would take to train local soldiers to use them. Though Washington has approved more than $21 billion in direct military aid since the conflict in Ukraine kicked off last February, it is unclear how much of that weaponry has arrived to the country or is actually in service due to lengthy delivery schedules. 

Kiev has clamored for increasingly heavy weapons throughout the conflict, specifically requesting the M1 Abrams main battle tank in a Christmas ‘wish list’ shared by a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky last month. However, US officials continue to rule out the 60-ton tank, with an unnamed government staffer telling the Washington Post they are unsuitable for Ukrainian forces due to their tendency to break down and heavy fuel consumption.

Instead, Washington and some Western allies, including Germany and France, have offered lighter armor, with Paris recently agreeing to send several aging AMX-10 armored fighting vehicles and Berlin announcing future shipments of the comparable Marder vehicle. All three countries have rebuffed requests for heavy tanks.

Developed in the 1980s to contend with Soviet BMP fighting vehicles, the Bradley was designed to transport and provide cover for infantry, coming in several different variants. While the Pentagon did not specify the model that will be shipped to Ukraine, the M3 Bradley is typically operated by a three-man crew, and has extra space for scout troops and BGM-71 TOW missiles, an anti-tank weapon.