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Pentagon Postpones Armed MQ-1C Drone Sale to Ukraine: Report

The US has put a plan to deliver four armed MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to Ukraine on hold over fears of technology leaks, Reuters has reported, citing sources.

The Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration (PDTSA) objected to the White House-approved plan during a “deeper review” last week, the news outlet stated. 

The PDTSA — mandated to keep “high value technology safe from enemy hands”— feared that the drone export to Ukraine might risk its radar and surveillance equipment falling into Russian hands, a “security risk” for the US. 

The objection had been overlooked during initial reviews, the outlet added.

Deal ‘Uncertain’

The deal now hinges on a review “higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon.” The timing of the review is uncertain.

One of the solutions to move the deal through is to replace the $10 million General Atomics radar and surveillance equipment on the drone with less sophisticated models. However, that might take months.

Moreover, even if the objections are addressed, the deal still needs to be approved by Congress.

Ukraine Requesting Precision Weapons

The development comes on the heels of Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Denys Sharapov urging the West to deliver long-range precision weapons to the country, including the MQ-1C, also known as the Predator, loitering munitions, and the multiple launch rocket system.

“The party that will win in this war will be the party that will first start using contemporary high precision equipment and weapon systems,” Sharapov told National Defense during an interview.

“And those drones {MQ-1C} that you mentioned, they are a part of the modernized, highly accurate, highly precise, modern equipment. It gives us an advantage that allows us to accurately strike the enemy.”

The Pentagon, meanwhile, is planning to double down on the number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems it is sending to Ukraine to eight in the next tranche of military aid, according to Politico. The system can launch precision projectiles up to 48 miles or 77 kilometers.

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