‘Ghost’ drones headed to Ukraine as part of new US lethal aid package

New “Ghost” drones rapidly developed by the Air Force for Ukrainian forces are heading to the country as part of the most recent $800 million lethal aid package announced by the Biden administration Thursday, according to the Pentagon. 

The United States will send more than 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, made by AEVEX Aerospace, to Ukraine as part of the package, press secretary John Kirby told reporters. 

“This was rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements,” Kirby said. 

He described the drone as similar to Switchblade — a small, rapidly deployable system that can be used to fly short distances, is difficult to detect or track and is mounted with a small explosive warhead used to attack personnel and light vehicles. 

“It provides similar capabilities to the Switchblade series of unmanned systems — similar capabilities, but not exact,” Kirby said. “There’s differences in the scope of capability for the Phoenix Ghost.” 

He would not say if the new drone had been used on the battlefield before and would not detail the differences between the Switchblade and Phoenix Ghost, though a senior U.S. defense official described the latter as a tactical UAS “that is designed to deliver a punch,” and be “useful against a number of different targets.” 

Kirby also said the new drone “will require some minimal training” for current UAS operators to be able to use it, and that the U.S. military is “working through those training requirements directly with the Ukrainian armed forces.” 

The U.S. military has already trained a small number of Ukrainian soldiers on how to use Switchblade drones, hundreds of which have been given to the country since Russia attacked on Feb. 24.  

Tags Ghost drones John Kirby Russia Switchblade drones Ukraine

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