Ukraine could get heavy attack drones within days, US company suggests. If Biden agrees

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During the first weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, kyiv repeatedly shared footage of its Bayraktar TB2 drones in action. The Bayraktar TB2 is a mid-weight drone made by Turkey. The Ukrainian military has shared footage of its Bayraktar TB2 drones firing small smart bombs to destroy Russian air defenses, supply columns and light armored vehicles.

However, kyiv’s Bayraktar drone fleet also suffered losses from Russian ground-based air defenses.

Last month, the Joe Biden administration authorized Switchblade “roaming ammunition” to be sent to Ukraine. Stray Munitions are drones that fly in surveillance mode, looking for targets before crashing into one in a kamikaze attack. The Switchblade is light enough to be carried by a single soldier.

However, Ukraine has advocated for more sophisticated drones as well as other systems from the United States and NATO members. On Tuesday, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, acknowledged The Washington Post she had met last week with executives from General Atomics, the company that made the legendary Predator drone and its heavier successor, the Reaper, as well as the smaller Gray Eagle.

Markarova was quoted by The Washington Post as saying “we discussed with General Atomics the prospects for increasing the capacity of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the current situation in Ukraine”. She declined to comment on the type of equipment sought from General Atomics, stating only that Ukraine would rather “surprise Russia on the battlefield.”

C. Mark Brinkley, a spokesman for General Atomics, said The Washington Post US government approval was needed to donate planes to Ukraine. “We have aircraft available now for immediate transfer. With US government support, these planes could be in the hands of Ukrainian military pilots within days,” Brinkley said. The Washington Post. He added that such equipment from General Atomics would give the Ukrainian military “highly lethal strike capabilities not offered” by its current fleet of smaller drones.

He also said The Washington Post “Ukrainian pilots already familiar with drone operations would not ‘start from scratch’ to learn how to fly them.”

Heavier drones from General Atomics would mark a leap forward for Ukraine. For example, the Reaper drone can carry a payload of around 1.7 tons, which is more than 10 times the capacity of the Bayraktar TB2. The Reaper can also carry a range of weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, guided bombs, and even heat-seeking air-to-air missiles.

Last week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov mentioned “strike drones” as a type of system the country needs, along with tanks, anti-ship missiles, artillery and air defense equipment.

The Washington Post The report on Ukraine’s interest in heavier drones comes as the Biden administration is poised to deliver a new arms assistance package to Kyiv worth $750 million. “Preliminary plans circulating among government officials and lawmakers in Washington also included Mi-17 helicopters, howitzer cannons, coastal defense drones and protective suits to protect personnel in the event of a chemical, biological or nuclear attack. “, The Washington Post reported. However, later an official said the Russian-made Mi-17 would not be part of the package.

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