United States has confirmed supplying a deadly new weapon to Ukraine as the war-torn nation fights back against the Russian offensive.
The war in Ukraine surprisingly enters two months, in a February 24 invasion which President Vladimir Putin had projected to end within a week of entry into Ukraine.
The Pentagon announced that previously classified Phoenix Ghost drones had been specially customized for the ongoing conflict.
President Joe Biden briefly referenced the shipment of ‘ghost drones’ weapons system while announcing the latest $800 million aid package to Ukraine’s arsenal.
Defense Secretary Admiral John Kirby said the drones were “rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements” and have the capability of taking out tanks and other armor after being launched from a tube and guiding themselves into the target for one-time use. That said, Pentagon officials were rather vague in explaining the newly designed drone. “It provides the same sort of tactical capability that a Switchblade [drone] does,” a Defense official told Stars & Stripes on condition of anonymity. “[The] Switchblade is a one-way drone, and it clearly is designed to deliver a punch.”
The single-use drone system is said to be relatively cheap to produce and is able to hover above a target before taking it out on command. The military newspaper said the official declined to give more information on scope and capability owing to its level of classification. “It provides the same sort of tactical capability that a Switchblade [drone] does,” the official explained. “[The] Switchblade is a one-way drone, and it clearly is designed to deliver a punch,” they added.
According to the report, the new drones are part of an aid package that already includes 90 howitzers and 144,000 rounds of ammunition. They were manufactured by California-based firm AEVEX Aerospace, albeit no photos were immediately available. The manufacturer calls itself “a recognized leader in full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions.” Meanwhile, the company’s website features articles on “selecting the right LiDAR systems for your drone” with a detailed explanation of the laser-driven guidance system.
Biden also confirmed that the US had provided 10 anti-tank weapons for every Russian tank in the field in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it would continue to aid Ukraine and that military leaders were developing a new supplemental appropriations request for Congress. “This commitment, together with the 18 155mm howitzers announced on April 13, provides enough artillery systems to equip five battalions,” Kirby said in a statement. “The United States has now committed more than $4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $3.4 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24.” He added, “The United States also continues to work with its allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities. The United States will continue to utilize all available tools to support Ukraine’s Armed Forces in the face of Russian aggression.”