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Ukrainian UAV spotted Russian T-80 tank detroyed by US-made M2A2-ODS Bradley IFV in Ukraine.

| Ukraine - Russia conflict

A Ukrainian drone filmed a battle scene involving an M2A2 ODS-SA Bradley and a Russian T-80 tank, featuring an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) TOW strike. The battle concluded with the announced destruction of the T-80 tank. This outcome is interesting because, on paper, these two vehicles would not typically engage in such a manner and produce this result. The armor and armament of the Main Battle Tank (MBT) are supposed to ensure its success against less armed and less protected vehicles. So, what led to this result?
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An Ukrainian Bradley M2A2 uses its TOW ATGM to destroy Russian T-80 tank in close combat operation. (Picture source video footage Armed forces of Ukraine) 

The M2A2 Bradley is fundamentally designed as an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), meaning it can transport a team of infantry fighters and provide support with its 25mm Bushmaster cannon, and its two TOW missiles, which are used when the vehicle is engaged by an armored vehicle. However, these two missiles do not really provide offensive capabilities suitable for large-scale armored engagements. In its ODS-SA variant (for Operation Desert Storm Situational Awareness), a serious improvement was made to the crew's situational awareness and to increase the survivability and combat capability of the vehicle. Major improvements included an eye-safe laser rangefinder (ELRF), a tactical navigation system (TACNAV) integrating the Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) and Digital Compass Systems (DCS), a missile countermeasure device designed to defeat first-generation wire-guided missiles, and the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) battlefield information management system.

Internal storage was further improved, and a thermal imaging system was added for the driver. The infantry squad was again increased to seven men, with six sitting face-to-face on two benches for three in the cabin, and the seventh sitting behind the turret. A Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) heater was added to the vehicle to facilitate food preparation.

The TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) is an anti-tank guided missile developed by the United States in the early 1970s. It is designed to be launched from various platforms, including ground vehicles, helicopters, and fixed installations, allowing it to target and destroy armored vehicles at considerable distances. The TOW system uses wire guidance where the missile is connected by a wire to the firing post, allowing the shooter to control the missile in flight using an optical tracking system. This mechanism allows for high precision, making the missile effective even at ranges up to 3,750 meters, depending on the variants. The missile itself is capable of penetrating modern armors, including those protected by reactive armor, thanks to a shaped charge warhead.

In contrast, the T-80 is a main battle tank developed by the Soviet Union that marks a significant evolution in Russian tank design. Introduced in the 1970s, it combines innovations in mobility, firepower, and protection, recently enhanced by a BVM 2023 variant, which is gradually joining the Russian forces in Ukraine. Besides its 125mm cannon, whose reliability and precision have been massively increased in the latest variants, it is equipped with KONTAKT-5 or Relikt reactive armor, ensuring high effectiveness against shaped charges. However, this armor does not cover the entirety of the tank.

In the scene from the video, it is specified by the Ukrainian armed forces that the Russian T-80 had rolled over a mine and lost its tracks, which completely immobilized the tank and made it totally vulnerable. The Bradley's shot thus hit a weaker spot on the T80, causing its destruction.

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