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The US administration’s plans to sell four large drones to Ukraine have been delayed over fears the advanced technology could end up in enemy hands. The radar and surveillance equipment on the drones could create a security risk for the United States if it fell into Russian hands.
The original plan had been reportedly approved by the White House. The intent was to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for battlefield use against Russia. The technical objection to the sale was raised during a deeper review by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration charged with keeping high-value technology safe from enemy hands.
The decision on whether or not to continue with the deal is now being reviewed higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon, reports reuters.com.
GA-ASI’s Gray Eagle UAV is an advanced derivative of the combat-proven Predator UAV. Gray Eagle offers a reliable, affordable, low-risk, and compelling next-generation tactical UAV solution to meet to meet challenging service requirements for persistent Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) and attack operations, according to ga-asi.com.
The UAV has an endurance of 25 hours and carries 1,075 lb (488 kg) of internal and external payload. It can carry multiple payloads aloft, including Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) with laser designation, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), communications relay, and four Hellfire missiles, according to the company.
The long-range, long-dwell UAV is dedicated to direct operational control by Army field commanders. Its expansive mission set includes, but is not limited, to wide-area Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), convoy protection, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection and defeat, close air support, communications relay, and weapons delivery missions.
The Ukrainian armed forces are using a range of unmanned aerial vehicles against the Russian military such as the armed Turkish Bayraktar-TB2 and the unarmed AeroVironment (AVAV.O) RQ-20 Puma AE, according to thedefensepost.com. However, the Gray Eagle offers a leap in capabilities through its long-range, endurance, and weapons payload.