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The US is about to sell armed drones to Ukraine?

The administration of US President Joe Biden plans to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles, armed with Hellfire missiles for use in the fight against Russian forces, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Reuters quoted three people familiar with the incident as saying, there is still a possibility that the US Congress will block the sale of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) manufactured by General Atomics. There’s also the risk that a last-minute policy reversal could affect the plan, which has been under review by the Pentagon over the past several weeks.

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Close-up of an advanced US drone model MQ-1C Gray Eagle. Photo: Reuters

Ukraine have used several types of shorter range UAVs against Russian forces since Moscow opened military offensive campaign to this country on 24/2. These include the RQ-20 Puma AE model built by American company AeroVironment and the Bayraktar-TB2 model developed by Turkey.

However, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle represents a technological leap, as this type of UAV can fly for up to 30 hours or more, depending on the mission, and can collect huge amounts of data for intelligence purposes. The MQ-1C Gray Eagles, the Army version of the more widely known Predator UAV model, can also carry up to eight powerful Hellfire missiles.

“Overall, the MQ-1C is a much larger aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of about three times that of the Bayraktar-TB2, with commensurate advantages in payload, range and endurance.” UAV expert Dan Gettinger of the Vertical Flight Society explains.

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is also compatible with more ammunition than the Bayraktar-TB2. In particular, the Bayraktar-TB2 UAV model that Ukraine is using is equipped with a Turkish-made MAM-L missile, weighing 22 kg, only half the weight of the Hellfire missile.

According to sources familiar with the matter, General Atomics’ training of UAV systems often takes months. However, a plan to train Kiev’s experienced operators and maintainers for a few weeks has recently been proposed.

Also according to sources familiar with the matter, part of the money from the US$40 billion Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package just approved by the US will be used to finance both sales and training in the transition plan. delivered MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

According to a US official, the Biden administration intends to notify Congress of the plan in the coming days and make a public announcement afterwards. A White House spokesman referred a request for comment on the reports to the US Department of Defense. A Pentagon representative said there is currently “nothing to announce.”

Tuan Anh

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The benefits of the US missile system are about to be transferred to UkrainePresident Joe Biden officially announced that the US will send advanced missile systems to Ukraine. The new weapon is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) M142.

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