Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Specifically ‘Made For Ukraine’, US Announces Phoenix Ghost Drones For Kyiv Besides Other Key Weapons

The United States will provide a new $400 million package of security assistance to Ukraine that includes refurbished T-72 tanks, Phoenix Ghost unmanned drones, and armored boats, US Department of Defense spokesperson Sabrina Singh said on Friday.

“[We are] announcing approximately $400 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine,” Singh said during a press briefing. “Some of the capabilities include funding to refurbish Hawk air defense missiles for inclusion in future presidential drawdown packages, 45 refurbished T-72 tanks with advanced optics, communications, and armor packages, 1,100 Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aerial systems, 40 armored Riverine boats, funding to refurbish 250 M1117 armored security vehicles.”

Singh said none of the T-72 tanks are actually US tanks, noting that they will be coming from the Czech Republic’s defense base.

The United States will cover the expenses to refurbish 45 tanks from the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands will match this commitment by paying for the refurbishment of an additional 45 T-72 tanks for Ukraine. A total of 90 tanks are expected to be delivered to Ukraine after being restored to working condition, she added.

The spokesperson pointed out that the announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional military capabilities to Ukraine.

When asked to provide a timeline for the delivery of Phoenix drones to Ukraine from the new aid package, Singh said Ukraine has already received the first tranche of drones committed in June, but she refused to provide any timeline for the next tranche.

Last week, the United States announced a new $275 million military assistance package for Ukraine that includes ammunition for HIMARS launchers, 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, 2,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine systems, 1,300 anti-armor systems, and 125 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.

T-72
File Image: T-72 Tank

Earlier, a senior US defense official said during a press briefing that the Phoenix Ghost drones have been developed by the United States in response to Ukrainian requirements and will require minimal training.

“What I can tell you about the Phoenix Ghost [drone] is this was rapidly developed by the [US] Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements,” the official said on Thursday. “It will require some minimal training for knowledgeable UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] operators to be able to use it, and we are going to be working through those training requirements directly with the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

The Phoenix Ghost drones provide similar capabilities to the Switchblade but not exactly the same ones, as there are some differences in the capabilities for the Phoenix, the official clarified.

Later in the day, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby explained that the Phoenix Ghost drone had been in development by the US Air Force before the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine on February 24.

The discussions that Pentagon had with Ukrainians made the US defense officials believe that this drone system will “nicely suit their needs, particularly in eastern Ukraine.”

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