LATEST: Ukraine’s ‘Ridiculously Powerful’ 82nd Air Assault Brigade Is Finally in Action

The Ukrainian military has never acknowledged the existence of this unit, but leaked Pentagon documents identified it as the single most powerful formation likely to be involved in the offensive. The newspaper Forbes on May 3 described the unit as “ridiculously powerful.”

If those documents are accurate, the Ukrainian command plans to amass about half of its best NATO-delivered infantry armored vehicles in this brigade; specifically, 40 tracked German Marder infantry fighting vehicles and 90 US-made Stryker wheeled infantry combat vehicles. Both the Marder and Strkyer vehicles are equipped with excellent day/night sensors and sights, auto-cannons and enough space for a squad of infantrymen. This is, according to that report, the only AFU formation that will be operating these two vehicles.

Neither Marder nor Stryker is, under normal circumstances, capable of taking on a tank but, according to the Pentagon papers the Ukrainian high command plans to support these vehicles with 14 British Challenger 2 tanks, which by most accounts will represent the most powerful and best-armored tank on the entire battlefield. According to Forbes, two battle-tested Ukrainian combat units – the 25th Airborne and the 80th Air Assault Brigades – sent tank crews to the UK where they trained on the Challengers, before being assigned to the 82nd.

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Arguably, the combination of highly mobile NATO-standard infantry fighting vehicles supported by these extremely capable tanks, will make the 82nd a force tailored to advance quickly to seize ground. On paper, the 82nd looks very much like a formation task-organized to drive through a breach in defensive lines made by other forces.

Ukrainian official army media has shown images of Marders, Strykers and Challenger 2 operating in Ukraine but, as yet, never together. This could be good Ukrainian information security or it could be evidence that the 82nd doesn’t actually exist. If a photograph or report of two of these three vehicles were to surface from well behind known Russian lines, that would be a strong indicator the 82nd was exploiting a breakthrough.

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Well-concealed Challenger 2 tank in Ukrainian army training, April 2022. Official Ukraine Defense Ministry Photograph.

A cautionary note would be, according to leaked information the infantry vehicle component of this unit only began training in March. If committed to combat as described on paper, the 82nd would be a generally green formation fighting together as a unit for the first time.

READ MORE:

  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #1 – 3rd Separate Assault Infantry Brigade
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #2 – 28th Mechanized Brigade
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #3 – 82nd Air Assault Brigade
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #4 – 10th Mountain Infantry Brigade
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #5 – 73rd Naval Center of Special Operations
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #6 – Specialized Unit Kraken
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch #7 – 37th Marine Brigade
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch # 8 – 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade 'Magura'
  • Ukraine’s Counteroffensive, Units to Watch # 9 – 92nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade
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