The US is reportedly considering to transfer Ukraine long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) armed with “AGM-114 Hellfire” missiles to counter Russia’s military campaign.
Military cognizance, citing three sources aware with the situation, reported that US President Joe Biden’s administration planned to transfer four MQ-1C “grey eagle” unmanned aerial drones (UAVs) to Ukraine.
The UAV acquisition by contractor General Atomics, however, is still at risk of being banned by the US Congress, as well as being cancelled at the last minute if the US reverses policy, according to sources.
Ukraine is now employing several short-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to oppose Russia’s nearly 100-day military campaign. The Turkish contractor AeroVironment’s RQ-20 Puma AE and Bayraktar-TB2 are among the aircraft on this list. The MQ-1C is seen as a technological leap forward because it can fly missions for up to 30 hours or longer and collect massive amounts of data. Furthermore, the MQ-1C is equipped with eight deadly “hellfire” missiles.
The US$40 billion security aid package for Ukraine’s budget is expected to be used to acquire planes and train Kiev military.
“Overall, the MQ-1C is a substantially larger aircraft than the Bayraktar-TB2, with equivalent benefits in payload, range, and durability,” according to Reuters UAV analyst Dan Gettinger.
The MQ-1C is also more ammo compatible than the Bayraktar-TB2. TB2 is equipped with a 22kg MAM-L missile developed in Turkey, which is half the size of a “hellfire” rocket.
It can take months to learn how to use this drone. The UAV might then be loaded with “hellfire” missiles, according to the sources.
If the agreement is accepted, Ukraine will have for the first time a contemporary unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of carrying out strikes deep within Russian-controlled territory, at a time when Kiev is losing ground to Russian forces in the Donbass.
The Hellfire missile, designated AGM-114L, is a semi-active radar-guided anti-tank missile with “fire-forget” capability (after the missile is launched, the active probe system will lead missile path without depending on other indication sources). It is now regarded as one of the world’s most potent anti-tank missiles.