Some of Ukraine’s Western-made vehicles are getting ‘killed’ on the battlefield, but it’s not as much of a win for Russia’s forces as it was – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Some of Ukraine’s Western-made vehicles are getting ‘killed’ on the battlefield, but it’s not as much of a win for Russia’s forces as it was

A Ukrainian soldier next to a US-made Bradley armored vehicle at a secret workshop in a wooded area in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Ed Ram/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ukraine has lost protected mobility vehicles in its counteroffensive, including some Western-made vehicles.
Because Western vehicle design prioritizes survivability, Ukraine’s crews are surviving hard hits.
Ukraine’s Soviet-designed equipment wasn’t created with the same priorities, experts say.

Ukraine has lost new Western armored vehicles in battle, but despite Russian celebrations, these vehicle kills are not necessarily the wins they might have been against the Soviet-era systems Ukraine was using at the start of the war.

Vehicles battered in combat can be repaired and replaced. The same isn’t always true for trained crews or infantry inside them. Western vehicles are ensuring those troops survive even the brutal front-line combat of the ongoing counteroffensive.

While Western vehicles, like the US-made Bradley fighting vehicle, come with impressive combat capabilities, Ukrainian troops say they are “vastly superior” to Soviet-era equipment, like BMP infantry fighting vehicles, because they are better at keeping the people inside alive, according to a new report on the Ukraine war.

Western planning looks at protected mobility systems as tools to deliver infantry into the fight, which is quite different from the ways the Soviet planners looked at the situation.

A destroyed BMP armored vehicle in a village in eastern Ukraine December 2022.

SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images

Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, land-warfare experts at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, wrote in the report that “for a Soviet mechanised section, its BMP was its primary weapons system, and so Soviet planners treated as synonymous the loss of the BMP with the loss of the section,” but Western armies “treat mechanisation as an addition to basic infanteering.”

This very distinct “difference in mindset, combined with a different approach to losses, means that there is a heavy emphasis in Western platforms on the survivability of dismounts even if the vehicle is mission killed,” they said.

Simply put, the West builds its personnel carriers to keep people alive while the Soviets built their systems in such a away that if the armor was penetrated, it was “usually catastrophic for those inside it,” Watling and Reynolds wrote. Life support wasn’t the main priority.

Russia has much more manpower, which means Ukraine really cannot afford to lose skilled vehicle crews and infantry units, and Western vehicles have proven rather effective at keeping Ukrainian troops in the fight even if they take a critical hit.

Ukrainian soldiers and mechanics test drive a US-made Bradley at a secret workshop in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Ed Ram/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The key implication here is that were Ukraine still relying strictly on Soviet-era systems, personnel losses in its ongoing counteroffensive might have been substantially higher. At least, Ukrainian forces certainly seem to think so.

A pair of Ukrainian soldiers, for example, credited the Bradleys Ukraine recently received with saving their lives early in the counteroffensive when their vehicle took multiple hits, telling ABC News that “if we were using some Soviet armored personnel carrier, we would all probably be dead after the first hit.”

In another example of the survivability of Western vehicles, a video showed the Ukrainian crew of a US-provided Humvee making it out alive after their vehicle was rocked by an explosion that might otherwise have been fatal.

—Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) August 16, 2023

While armored vehicles from the West give Ukraine’s front-line troops the ability to lose vehicles without necessarily losing their lives, preserving an essential and hard to replace resource, Kyiv’s forces can’t sustain substantial vehicle losses indefinitely.

“While Western-supplied protected mobility may be doing a good job at enabling their dismounts to survive,” Watling and Reynolds wrote, “there is still a high loss rate of platforms.”

The experts noted that “these platforms are often mobility killed rather than destroyed,” which is to say the vehicles aren’t necessarily being destroyed, but the tracks, for instance, may be damaged to the point that the vehicle can no longer move, meaning it has to be recovered in order to be repaired.

In those cases, recovering vehicles that crews were forced to abandon can be a challenge, especially if the other side intervenes.

Ukrainian soldiers and mechanics change the wheels and tracks on a damaged Bradley at a workshop in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Ed Ram/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Watling and Reynolds wrote in a previous report that “on several occasions, this tendency for stricken armour to be abandoned has led to extended skirmishing by both sides to try and recover damaged vehicles.” They noted at that time that fire superiority often benefited the Russians, who could keep the Ukrainians at bay with artillery.

That dynamic has somewhat shifted along the front lines, as devastating Ukrainian counterbattery fire, supported by the introduction of US-provided cluster munitions, has started to even the playing field, in some cases even giving Ukraine an edge.

In their new report, Watling and Reynolds argue that “Ukraine’s international partners need to ensure that the industrial support is available to make the Ukrainian military sustainable.”

That, however, can be a challenge in cases where a vehicle type or variant is no longer in production and spare parts for it may be in limited supply.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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