Given the autonomy of the military device, would allow kyiv to attack targets in the rear of Russian troops.
The White House wants to sell kyiv four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones
, reports Reuters with reference to three sources informed of the sale . According to the agency, the deal has been discussed at the Pentagon for several weeks. It may still be canceled if approval is not obtained from the US Congress or if the Biden Administration changes of idea.
The cost of the drones and the training of their possible Ukrainian operators would be deducted from the last aid package to Ukraine, of 40,000 million dollars. Although the training normally takes several months, it is expected to reduce it to a few weeks. In particular, it would include the Ukrainian military who already have experience in the use and maintenance of drones.
The White House will inform Congress of its plan in the next days. The public announcement will be made only afterward, an informant said. The Pentagon has neither confirmed nor refuted the report.
What is the MQ-1C Gray Eagle?
Introduced in 2009, the MQ-1C drone is an advanced version of the MQ -1 Predator, which has been widely used by the US in conflicts since 1995. According to the US Army, the device has a length of 8 meters, a wingspan of 27 meters and a maximum takeoff weight of 1.6 tons. It’s not very fast — its top speed is only 170 mph — but it can operate at an altitude of up to 4.7 miles. A complete system includes three drones, plus control stations.
The MQ-1C is reusable and can work for more than 27 hours and more than 40 hours if it is the ER version. Controlled via satellite, it has a range of 4,630 kilometers. It can carry up to four Hellfire missiles, each weighing 50 kg, as well as collect data of intelligence.
Given the autonomy of the device, its importance in the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict is that it would allow kyiv to attack targets in the rear of the Russian troops . It is also a considerably heavier weapon than the Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drone, which is owned by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“Overall, the MQ-1C is a much larger aircraft, with a maximum takeoff weight three times higher than the Bayraktar-TB2. In addition, it has proportional advantages in payload capacity, range and endurance,” Reuters quotes drone expert Dan Gettinger.
New package of military aid for Ukraine
The president of the United States, Joe Biden, announced this Wednesday a new package of military aid for Ukraine, under which Washington will supply kyiv with HIMARS multiple rocket launcher systems. In addition, the new aid package, valued at 700 million dollars, includes 1,000 Javelin anti-tank and man-portable missiles, 6,000 anti-tank missiles, 4 Mi-17 helicopters, 15 tactical vehicles and various radars.
On the same day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Ukraine gave him “guarantees that it will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory”.
For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Ukraine’s requests to receive multiple rocket launcher systems represent “a direct provocation intended to involve the West in military actions”.