What is the Bradley Fighting Vehicle?

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicles that will be deployed in Latvia for NATO's Operation Atlantic Resolve wait for an unload in Garkalne

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States said on Thursday that it will send Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine to bolster Kiev's fight against Russia's invasion. The delivery, expected to total around 50 units, comes alongside a commitment from Germany to send its own armored vehicles to Ukraine and a similar move by France last week.

What is a Bradley Fighting Vehicle?

The Bradley is a tracked, medium-armored vehicle armed with a 25-mm gun. Named after a U.S. general who commanded U.S. troops in World War II, it is operated by a crew of three and depending on the version can carry seven soldiers around the battlefield. In addition to its turret-mounted gun it can carry a tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) missile launcher that can destroy tanks. Made by BAE Systems, they weigh 80,000 pounds and can go about 38 mph (61 kph), according to the U.S. Army.

How is the Bradley different from what Germany and France have committed to sending to Ukraine?

France has pledged a similar armored vehicle called the AMX-10 RC. The wheeled high-mobility armored reconnaissance vehicle has a 105-mm gun and carries up to four people. Germany will send about 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine before the end of March. The tracked Marder often has a 20-mm gun, has a crew of three and can carry five or six into battle. Some Marders carry the Milan anti-tank weapon.

When will the Bradleys arrive in Ukraine?

If shipped by sea, the trip could take several weeks. If Bradleys that the U.S. has in Europe are sent to Ukraine, the timeline would be much shorter. Ukrainians will need training on how to operate the Bradleys.

Why does Ukraine want them?

The TOW missiles aboard a Bradley are "tank killers" and Ukraine can use that firepower in conjunction with its own tanks as a part of the "mechanized combined arms" team, an advanced fighting tactic Ukrainians will receive training for in the coming weeks.

How many Bradleys does the United States have?

The U.S. has about 4,000 Bradleys total.

Does the decision to send armored personnel carriers mean that heavy tanks will come next?

It's unclear. While Ukraine has requested advanced tanks such as the M1 Abrams, NATO has been reluctant to send them because of fears that this could further escalate the war.

(Reporting by Mike StoneEditing by Don Durfee and Nick Macfie)