Unimaginable father-son warfare in Ukraine: A closer look at the M2A2 Bradley IFV's tank battle capabilities
An insightful interview with the crew of an M2A2 Bradley IFV materialized online recently. The skillful 19-year-old Oleksandr is the commander of this vehicle. Russians have placed bounties on his head and that of his crew. After surviving a skirmish in which the M2A2 Bradley was hit by a tank shell (presumably a high explosive or possibly shaped charge shell, since it could not have fended off an APFSDS-T round), Oleksandr's father contacted him.
Recognizing his son's vehicle, the father ceased fire but continued to serve as a tank crew member in the Russian army until his tank was eventually dismantled by Ukrainian FPV drones armed with PG-7VL grenades.
M2A2 Bradley vs Tanks — Lacks substantial armor, but has self-protective capabilities
The M2A2 Bradley IFV, originally designed in the late 80s, weighs around 60,000 pounds and provides 360-degree protection against heavy machine gun fire from 14.5×114 mm KPVs. Additionally, its front plate can withstand shelling from 30 mm automatic cannons. The Bradleys are also fortified with blocks of BRAT reactive armor which safeguard against individual shaped-charge warheads that can blast through hundreds of millimeters of armored steel.
However, while this armor safeguards the crew from high-explosive or shaped-charge shells, a kinetic energy penetrator (APFSDS-T) can easily breach it.
As for its armaments, the M2A2 Bradley IFV is outfitted with a 25-mm automatic M242 Bushmaster cannon capable of firing 200 rounds/min with an effective range of about 1.24 miles, a 7.62x51 mm NATO machine gun, and a dual launcher for guided anti-tank BGM-71F (TOW 2B) missiles.
Primarily used for combating infantry, light fortifications, and lightly armored enemy vehicles, the M242 Bushmaster cannon isn't intended for tank combat. The cannon typically uses M792 HEI-T ammunition, which operates like a small grenade, but lacks anti-tank properties. Anti-tank ammunition is an option, but it's not impactful against tanks unless it hits weak points, like the side or rear armor.
However, in desperate situations, it can impair an enemy tank's optoelectronics - a move that comes with significant risk, as demonstrated in a clash between a Bradley and a T-90M tank.
In tank battles, the primary weapons are the TOW 2 missiles with a range of up to 2.34 miles. They strike directly or hit the top armor of a tank depending on the version. Even though this is an older solution, it can still take out any Russian tank. However, the missile requires guidance until the moment of impact and can only be launched when stationary, making it practically useful only in ambush scenarios, not for close-range combat in open fields.
Russian Tanks — Death Traps for Crew Members
Russian tanks from the T-72, T-64, or T-80 families are theoretically formidable machines with powerful firepower, impressive mobility, a low profile, and lightweight structure. However, they have a critical flaw that every armor breach potentially causes the instantaneous death of the crew via a dramatic explosion.
This flaw is due to the autoloaders located in the hull, exposing two of the three crew members to ammunition. The ammunition storage is not isolated like it is in Western machines and any armor breach almost certainly spells immediate or delayed doom for the entire crew.
As a result, Russia lacks seasoned soldiers; they simply don't exist. Even the T-90M tanks were operated by crews comprised of newly recruited soldiers. In contrast, for instance, the crew of a Leopard 2 tank could continue to fight in a new tank even if their original one was destroyed.