The Biden administration has delayed the approval of Ukraine’s request for long-range armed drones over several concerns, including escalation, the need to train Ukrainian warfighters to use the aircraft and the potential loss of highly sensitive technology from the battlefield, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
According to the report, Ukraine asked the U.S. government to provide four units of the General Atomics-built MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, which can transport up to four Hellfire missiles at a range of more than 200 miles.
“Receipt of these drones would significantly expand Ukraine’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and precision-strike capabilities, enabling Ukraine to surveil and strike Russian targets at much greater range,” said Jennifer Cafarella, national security fellow at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
Navy Capt. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, said DOD does not “comment on internal deliberations” and is working closely Ukraine “to fill critical capabilities Ukraine needs for the battlefield.”
C. Mark Brinkley, a spokesman for General Atomics, said the company has offered to shoulder all costs related to training an initial batch of Ukrainian operators of the drone’s avionics, sensors and maintenance.