Ukraine-Russia war: US planning on selling powerful drones to aid Kyiv in fight: report

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The Biden administration is planning on selling four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones – which are capable of carrying powerful Hellfire missiles – to Ukraine to help the country fight Russia, a report says. 

The move would provide a military boost to Ukraine in the war, which so far has been using drones like the Turkish Bayraktar-TB2, according to Reuters. The MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones can fly more than 30 hours per mission and carry eight Hellfire missiles, which are double the weight of the munitions that the Bayraktar-TB2 operates with, the news agency adds. 

“Generally the MQ-1C is a much larger aircraft with a max take-off weight around three times that of the Bayraktar-TB2, with commensurate advantages in payload capacity, range, and endurance,” drone expert Dan Gettinger of the nonprofit Vertical Flight Society told Reuters. 

Gettinger also said training on the General Atomics-made drones usually takes several months. 

Workers prepare an MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle for static display at Michael Army Airfield, Dugway Proving Ground in Utah in September 2011.

Workers prepare an MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle for static display at Michael Army Airfield, Dugway Proving Ground in Utah in September 2011.
(REUTERS/U.S. Army/Spc. Latoya Wiggins/Handout)

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But three people familiar with the Biden administration’s plans told Reuters that a training regimen has been proposed that could get Ukraine’s military up to speed on how to use the drones in only a few weeks. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, June 1.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, June 1.
(Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The sources added that the sale of the drones has been under review at the Pentagon for numerous weeks and it could still be blocked by Congress. 

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One U.S official told Reuters that Biden’s administration will notify Congress of the potential sale of the drones in the coming days, followed by a public announcement. 

A Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle is seen during a demonstration flight at Teknofest aerospace and technology festival in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 27. (REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo)

A Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle is seen during a demonstration flight at Teknofest aerospace and technology festival in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 27. (REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo)

Biden earlier this week announced that the U.S. is sending “more advanced rocket systems and munitions” to Ukraine, a move that Russia characterized as “adding fuel to the fire.” 

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