Ukrainian soldiers say they owe lives to US-supplied Bradley vehicles
"Thanks to it, I am standing here now."
As Ukrainian forces continue their counteroffensive against Russia, some soldiers say an American-supplied vehicle is making a key difference in their advances, and more importantly, saving lives.
The U.S. has provided has provided Ukrainian forces with Bradley Fighting Vehicles as part of aid packages since the beginning of the year and they have been heavily used in the counteroffensive Ukraine that launched in early June.
Two Ukrainian soldiers from the 47th brigade, Serhiy and Andriy, told ABC News that they and their crew wouldn't be alive today if Bradley didn't protect them from a battle early on in the counteroffensive where they were struck by mines, high caliber guns and attack drones.
"We were hit multiple times," Andriy, who drove one Bradley, said. "Thanks to it, I am standing here now. If we were using some Soviet armored personnel carrier we would all probably be dead after the first hit. It's a perfect vehicle."
The Bradleys are armed with a 25mm automatic cannon, a 7.62mm machine gun, and a TOW missile system that can hit armored targets more than two miles away.
Andriy and Serhiy's brigade was part of one of the first major assaults using significant amounts of Western-supplied armored, launched against heavily fortified Russian lines in the Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine at the start of June.
As they advanced towards the Russian positions, protected by dense minefields, the Ukrainian troops came almost immediately under heavy fire. The vehicle behind Andriy was struck by an attack drone, killing his unit's commander.
Andriy's Bradley was then hit first by a 120mm mortar. Two 150mm shells then struck both sides of the vehicle, he told ABC.
"Almost all of my guys were concussed, and they were really disoriented," he said. But the squad inside bailed out and managed to safely escape back to cover.
Russia's defense ministry released a widely video of a nearby area showing four Bradleys and one German Leopard 2A6 tanks damaged and abandoned after a different failed breaching assault by the 47th Brigade
Serhiy, who drove a Bradley during yet another nearby assault, said Russian forces were very well prepared. Despite his vehicle also being badly hit, he said he and his team escaped major injuries while inside during the attack.
"It's a very good car if you are inside. I've checked on myself and on my team. Only one guy had a concussion," he said.
Ukraine has so far lost at least 24 Bradleys, according to the Oryx open source website, that tracks Ukrainian and Russia equipment losses by visually confirming them in public available imagery.
Serhiy and Andriy said the Ukrainians were often able to recover many of the vehicles disabled in the attacks. One of their vehicles was recovered and used for parts that allowed the repair of two more Bradleys, they said.
Andriy was hospitalised for concussion, but a day later snuck out against his doctors advice, determined to recover his vehicle. He returned to the battlefield where the Bradley was still abandoned and discovering its engine was still functioning succeeded in driving it out.
He said, despite the difficulties in advancing he believed Ukraine's counteroffensive would be successful.
"I think in the near future we will succeed," he said.
"We'll find their weak spot," Serhiy said.