Ukraine to Receive US Bradley and German Marder IFVs

Following a phone conference on Thursday afternoon, between President Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the United States and Germany have signalled their intention to supply Ukraine with Bradley and Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs).

The White House announcement gave no indication of how many of the Bradley and Marder IFVs are set to be provided but both nations have significant stocks of the respective vehicles. It has subsequently been reported that Germany will provide 40 vehicles while the US will supply 50, though official confirmation is pending. Both are tracked armor-protected vehicles capable of transporting dismountable infantry. The Bradley has a 25mm M242 chain gun and can launch TOW anti-tank guided missiles, while the Marder has an unstabilized 20mm cannon and can engage heavier armored vehicles and tanks with a mounted MILAN anti-tank guided missile launcher. It is unlikely that Marders upgraded with the Israeli SPIKE missile will be transferred due to Israel’s reluctance to provide weapons to Ukraine. Importantly, both vehicles have thermal sights which will provide Ukrainian crews with a night-time advantage.

A German soldier taking cover behind a Marder 1A3 IFV during an exercise (Bundeswehr-Fotos /CC BY 2.0)

Yesterday, it was announced that France is set to provide Ukraine with AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles. Originally designed for aggressive scouting the 6×6 wheeled AMX-10 RC carries a capable 105mm gun able to deal with most Russian armored fighting vehicles and conceivably engage Russian tanks too with OFL 105 F3 armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds. This move by France followed reported discussion of the US providing Bradley IFVs last week.

A White House statement announcing the decision to provide the IFVs, said:

“President Biden and Chancellor Scholz expressed their common determination to continue to provide the necessary financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine for as long as needed. To this end, the United States intends to supply Ukraine with Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Germany intends to provide Ukraine with Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles.”

The statement also noted that both countries intend to provide training to Ukrainian forces on the respective vehicles. This may take place through the US’ planned expansion of training in 2023 and through NATO Defence Education Enhancement Program (DEEP) respectively. A timeline has not yet been outlined.

Two M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle crews from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. (U.S. Army)

The conference call between Biden and Scholz also saw the leaders agree to “further support Ukraine’s urgent requirement for air defense capabilities” in the face of the threat posed by Russia’s ongoing missile strikes and drone attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure. Both the US and now Germany have confirmed their intentions to provide Ukraine with Patriot surface to air missile systems. Germany has previously supplied Gepard Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and ).

The move to provide variants of IFVs which are still in service with their respective militaries is a signal that the West is again ramping their support for Ukraine. Throughout the conflict the US government have been keen to emphasise that they have been matching Ukraine’s immediate requirements ranging from: infantry anti-tank weapons and Stinger MANPADS to long range precision artillery and most recently sophisticated air defense systems.

The transfer of Bradley and Marder IFVs comes at a time when Ukraine is in desperate need of tracked fighting vehicles, which will only increase in the spring as Ukraine looks to go on the offensive. The Bradley and Marder also represent an increase in capability compared to the Cold War-era vehicles, like the BMP, MT-LB and BTR, which Ukraine and Russia are currently fielding. It remains to be seen if other Western nations will follow suit by also providing capable IFVs, armoured fighting vehicles or even main battle tanks following this latest step change in military aid.

Header image: File photo – Bradley IFV firing a TOW missile (US DoD)