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US Offers MQ-9 Reaper Drones To Ukraine! General Atomics Ready To Sell ‘Cutting Edge’ UAVs For $1 — WSJ

General Atomics, a leading US drone manufacturer, has offered to sell the Ukrainian government two MQ-9 Reaper drones for a dollar.

Featuring unmatched operational flexibility, the MQ-9 Reaper is a cutting-edge drone with impressive speed and range. The US weapons maker is reportedly offering this advanced drone to Ukraine for one dollar. 

According to the letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, besides the one dollar, the agreement calls for Kyiv to pay around $10 million to prepare and deploy the aircraft to Ukraine, as well as $8 million annually to maintain and sustain the older model drones. 

The proposed plan would include a ground control station allowing the drones to be operated almost anywhere.  

The Reaper can be armed and has a wingspan of roughly 66 feet. It can stay in the air for more than 24 hours. An older model of the drone, the MQ-9A Block 1 aircraft, offered by the business would typically cost several million dollars each. 

Linden Blue, chief executive officer of General Atomics, which manufactures the Reapers, made the proposition to Ukraine’s defense attaché in Washington last week, the report said.  

File: MQ-9 drone

Nonetheless, neither the US nor the Ukrainian government commented on the proposal. General Atomics’ spokesperson said the company couldn’t comment on specific deals but believes Ukraine urgently needs a capability like the Reaper.  

Mark Brinkley, the spokesman for General Atomics, said that General Atomics has been speaking with the Ukrainian government about the needs of their military forces for many months and is still committed to helping them in any manner it can.

The Gray Eagle and Reaper drones, both produced by General Atomics, would enable Ukrainian forces to target and monitor Russian troops from a safer distance.  

The White House has been hesitant to supply the Gray Eagles, which are currently operated by the US Army, as officials believe that if the aircraft were shot down, sensitive equipment on board, like the camera, might end up in the hands of the Russians. 

The US Air Force flies the Reapers, which are bigger and can carry a heavier payload. 

The Biden administration would still need to approve the technology transfer to Ukraine before the sale of the drones could proceed. General Atomics, however, is offering to sell the Reapers to the Ukrainian government directly rather than via the American government. 

MQ-9 Drone For Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities met with General Atomics in April 2022 to discuss the potential purchase of Reaper and Predator armed drones.

The US Department of Defense was reportedly considering selling four MQ-1C Gray Eagle Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) armed drones to Ukraine in June 2022, according to information that surfaced then.

The plans were postponed, nevertheless, because of worries that the technology would fall into the hands of the Russians.

The Ukrainians, who have been asking Washington for the MQ-9 Reaper and the MQ-1C Gray Eagle for months, are frustrated by the Pentagon’s indecision despite their assurances that they would only use the donated drones to attack Russian positions inside Ukraine and that they would share targeting data with the US before launching strikes. 

These drones are vital for the Ukrainian military as they both have long-range surveillance and striking capabilities. 

File Image: MQ-9 Reaper UAV

The drone, which was widely used in the war in Afghanistan, has “a unique capability” to carry out strike operations, gather data, and monitor “high value” targets. 

Executives from General Atomics have been in contact with Ukrainian authorities for months to reach an agreement on technology transfers that would adhere to US regulations and concerns. 

According to reports, the US Army is looking into modifying the MQ-9 drones so that, even if some of them are destroyed, there is less risk of exposing critical technology. 

Although it is unclear which drone technology is the most sensitive, experts say it’s related to the image and intelligence-gathering capabilities and sensors. 

Pentagon is primarily worried about Raytheon Technologies’ Multi-Spectral Targeting System, an electro-optical/infrared ball installed on the Gray Eagle drone (MSTS). This electro-optical/infrared ball allows users to aim and track targets in real time. 

The drones will undoubtedly equip the Ukrainian military with vital capabilities to monitor and target Russian forces if approved.

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