Pentagon suspended a deal to sell four MQ-1C UASs to Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration has issued a technical objection to the sale of four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to Ukraine to help the country counter Russian forces in a war that began on February 24 this year.

Ukraine may get 4 MQ-1C UAS with Hellfire ASMs and STARLite Radar
Photo: Wikipedia

There is a danger that sensitive technologies such as radar systems, surveillance, reconnaissance and observation systems, and the structure of the AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile will fall into the hands of the Russian armed forces if drones are shot down or Russian military intelligence receives access to them.

Mike Stone, a Reuters reporter, said two high-ranking sources had confirmed the deal’s suspension, with technical objections raised at the Pentagon during the usual debate over whether US technology could be in enemy hands if given to a partner state. Such meetings are common and are always held when the United States sells military technology to any country in the world.

When the White House administration came up with the idea to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, no such objection was raised because a political decision had been made. “Technology security reviews are standard practice for the transfer of U.S. defense articles to all international partners. All cases are reviewed individually on their own merit. Through the established process, national security concerns are elevated to the appropriate approving authority,” Sue Gough, the Pentagon spokesperson said.

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Photo credit: Arlington County recalls that in early June it reported that the White House was preparing to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagles to Ukraine to be armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. If Ukraine acquires these four unmanned aerial systems, it will receive high-tech drones that can fly 30 hours in the air, conduct deep reconnaissance, and attack enemy positions.

Today the situation is different. Again, according to Reuters sources, the suspended deal by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration is planned at a higher level in the Pentagon’s chain of command. Sensitive technologies are likely to be replaced, but sources say it will take months.

However, the last word remains with Congress. If the Pentagon’s high command still allows the deal to take place, US President Joe Biden will present it to Congress and its members will either approve or block the deal. Before the Pentagon’s view that Russia could receive sensitive US military technology, the chances of Congress blocking the deal were slim. Now, however, the situation has changed and no one dares to predict, if the military allows, how congressmen will vote.

One thing is clear at the moment – the deal has been blocked by the Pentagon and important decisions are yet to be made in the coming days. reminds us that the four MQ-1C UAVs were produced for the needs of the US Army. According to open sources, such a drone costs about $ 10 million.

MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance [MALE] unmanned aircraft system [UAS] developed by the American company General Atomics. This drone was once known as Warrior or Sky Warrior. He made his first flight in 2004, and in 2009 joined the US Air Force.

4 MQ-1C UAS with Hellfire ASMs and STARLite Radar for Ukraine
Photo: Wikimedia

This drone is a weapon in the United States. He has participated in some military operations in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, operations against Islamic State, and is stationed at some US military bases around the world, such as Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. So far, 75 units have been produced by the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, but another 152 units have been ordered.

The drone weighs 360 kg and has a max takeoff weight of 3,600 lb [1,633 kg]. Powered by a Thielert Centurion 1.7 Heavy-Fuel Engine, 165 hp [123 kW]. The maximum speed that can be reached is 167 kn [192 mph, 309 km / h], and its service ceiling: is 29,000 ft [8,839.2 m].

The drone is equipped with a tactical AN / ZPY-1 STARLite Radar. MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS can carry the following weapons: four hardpoints, four AGM-114 Hellfire or with AIM-92 Stinger missiles, and four GBU-44 / B Viper Strike bombs.

AGM-114 Hellfire

The AGM-114 Hellfire is an American air-to-surface missile [ASM] manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Northrup Gruman. It was developed in the 70s of the last century and from 1984 to the present day, its various variations are in service around the world. 30 countries are currently operating this missile and have documented involvement in dozens of military conflicts around the world.

New General Atomics UAV launches record 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The rocket weighs 100-108 lb [45-49 kg]. Its diameter is 7 in [180 mm]. Depending on its purpose and the variation used, the missile can be equipped with several types of warheads: high-explosive anti-tank, shaped charge, tandem anti-armor, metal augmented charge, and blast fragmentation.

The AGM-114 Hellfire is powered by a Thiokol TX-657 solid-fuel rocket engine, has a range of 550 to 12,030 yd [0.5 to 11 km], and reaches a top speed of Mach 1.3 [995 mph, 1,601 km / h]. The guidance system is made of semi-active laser homing and millimeter-wave radar seeker.


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