Ukraine officially asks for huge combat drones – Washington says neither yes nor no

  • Reaper and Gray Eagle can travel great distances, fly to great heights, and perform multiple actions, similar to US operations in the Middle East
  • Any sale or transfer of such drones requires the simultaneous approval of the US State Department and the Pentagon.
  • Very strict American regulations stipulate that no missile or drone capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and a range of 300 km must be transferred abroad
  • The Americans fear that the Reapers could be considered an offensive weapon by Russia, which would mean for Moscow to include the United States directly in the conflict
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Original article on the POLITICO.com website

“We expect positive results,” the ministry wrote.

The Pentagon has already sent a number of small disposable Switchblade drones to Ukraine, as well as the new Phoenix Ghost, which has similar properties and hits the target by detonating its payload.

However, officials say Ukraine also wants more advanced Reaper and Gray Eagle drones that can travel longer distances, fly at higher altitudes and be reloaded with rockets for future missions. Both types have long been involved in US operations, particularly counterterrorism in the Middle East.

Ukraine was about to talk with General Atomics, a drone manufacturer, to acquire these systems. However, any sale or donation of drones would require the approval of the US government, namely the State Department and the Pentagon.

And for any request for weapons, it’s easier said than done – MoD officials have to consider many variables when deciding whether or not to accept a request, including escalation. , technological sensibility and ease of sharing, and whether Ukrainians could actually benefit from it. of these opportunities.

When asked if the United States would supply reapers and gray eagles to Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to comment.

The rest of the text is below the video

Armed drones are a particularly complex issue as they are subject to strict legal regulations, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which requires the export of most missile systems, cruise missiles to the largest unmanned aerial vehicles, or “under strong presumptions”. of denial”.

This means that no missile or drone capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and a range of 300 km must be transferred from one country to another.

These restrictions have prevented the sale of the Reapers and Gray Eagle even to certain American partners, including Qatar and Indonesia, so such a transfer to Ukraine seems unlikely so far.

But that may change, albeit slowly. In 2020, the Trump administration unilaterally decided to relax restrictions on the sale of armed drones, despite the objections of many in the arms control community and without regard to the MTCR.

A State Department spokesperson said the United States “remains committed to the MTCR” without giving details of changes to the drone categorization.

“In the case of Ukraine, the line between defensive and offensive weapons is blurred,” said Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association. – And the Reaper drones would most likely be considered an offensive weapon that could hit Russia.

That could prevent them from being handed over under current MTCR guidelines, Kimball added.

Editing: Michał Broniatowski

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