US-delivered Bradley FV with BUSK upgrade was spotted in Ukraine

Ukrainian forces are upgrading their U.S.-provided M2A2 Bradley ODS infantry fighting vehicles with parts of the Bradley Urban Survival Kit [BUSK] for enhanced armor. Notable upgrades include box-shaped explosive reactive armor [ERA] bricks or Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles [BRAT] designed to neutralize the effects of anti-tank weapons.  

The comprehensive BUSK includes additional shielding for various parts of the vehicle including vehicle commanders’ turrets, underside armor for protection against explosive devices, and extra shielding for the fuel cell, driver’s seat, and turret. The extent of BUSK implementation in Ukrainian Bradleys is uncertain.  

The BUSK concept was developed during U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Iraq during the 2000s. It was later fully deployed with upgraded BUSK III kits in South Korea. Ukraine has been outfitting its tanks with reactive armor, likely driven by combat experience.  

Ukrainian forces face threats from anti-tank guided missiles and mines. The BUSK provides protection against these threats. Despite multiple losses and damage, the Bradleys have often protected their crews, and some damaged vehicles have been repaired and returned to the battlefield. The U.S. has pledged 190 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles to Ukraine. It is unclear if the BRAT or complete BUSK will become standard for Ukrainians.

What is BUSK?

The reactive armor tiles on the BUSK are designed to detonate when hit by an incoming RPG, disrupting the shaped charge and reducing its effectiveness. The slat armor, which consists of metal bars mounted on the sides of the vehicle, is designed to detonate incoming RPGs before they can hit the main armor, further reducing their effectiveness.

The gun shield provides additional protection for the vehicle’s main armament, which is a 25mm M242 Bushmaster cannon. The BUSK is made from a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, and composite materials. The exact composition of the vehicle’s armor is classified, but it is known to include a combination of steel and ceramic materials.

The vehicle’s hull is made from aluminum, which provides a good balance of strength and weight. The BUSK also features several advanced electronic systems, including a thermal imaging system and a laser rangefinder, which help the crew identify and engage targets in urban environments. 

Bradley survived against T-72 in Ukraine

This past mid-July, unveiled a riveting video. It depicted a Bradley tank surviving a head-on encounter with a Russian T-72 tank. The footage, widely shared on social media, clearly shows a Bradley infantryman, despite a shell-pierced hull, continuing his mission on the battlefield. 

Commonly criticized for its aluminum armor, the American war machine proved its mettle this time in a “David vs. Goliath” showdown. The damage was minimal and repairable, with the tank shell striking the hull under the turret. This impact affected only Bradley’s structure, not its functionality. Remarkably, the turret and guns remained functional, and the propulsion power unit continued to perform.

Unveiling the Bradley IFV’s Armor Minus BUSK

Imagine a blend of steel, aluminum, and composite materials coming together to form an impenetrable shield. That’s exactly what the armor of the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle [IFV] is crafted from. Its exact composition, however, morphs based on the vehicle’s model, variant, intended use, and required protection levels. 

This formidable armor is no ordinary shield. It’s designed to withstand diverse threats – from small arms fire and artillery shells to improvised explosive devices [IEDs]. Even chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear [CBRN] threats can’t penetrate this armor, making the Bradley IFV a versatile warrior on any mission. 

US-delivered Bradley FVs with BUSK upgrade was spotted in Ukraine
Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

But the Bradley IFV’s defense doesn’t stop at its armor. It boasts an array of other protective systems – smoke grenade launchers, a laser warning system, and an active protection system [APS] that can spot and intercept incoming projectiles. These systems, working in harmony, bestow upon the vehicle and its occupants an unrivaled protection level. 

It’s no wonder then that the Bradley IFV is globally recognized as one of the most heavily armored and well-defended vehicles. Its armor, a key player in its battlefield triumphs, continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-growing and sophisticated threats, ensuring its position at the cutting edge of military technology and capability.


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