A leading US maker of advanced military surveillance drones announced Wednesday that it was willing to sell two to Ukraine for just $1, and called on the US government to approve the deal.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said it had been urging Washington for months to provide Ukraine its powerful Grey Eagle and Reaper drones, which US forces have used to great effect in surveillance and targeted attacks over Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and other conflict zones.
It said the drones, which can fly long distances at mid-altitudes, are one of the most obvious, force-enhancing technologies that Ukraine needs in its war against Russian forces.
The US military has provided Ukraine with a number of small attack and surveillance drones, but nothing with the advanced technologies and long-range abilities like General Atomics’ unmanned aircraft.
“From the outset of the Russian invasion, we began looking for options to respond to the requests of Ukrainian forces with our products, including the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle,” General Atomics chief executive Linden Blue said in a statement.
He said the company has offered to train Ukrainian operators at no cost to the US or Ukrainian governments.
And the company was ready to hand over two of its own training aircraft, along with a ground control station and other hardware, for a symbolic $1.
Ukraine or someone else would have to pay for outfitting and transferring the aircraft and setting up the operation to put them in the air over the battlefield, he said.
“The offer is a remarkable deal with no strings attached,” Blue said.
“All that is required is approval from the US government.”
“From our perspective, it is long past time to enable Ukrainian forces with the information dominance required to win this war,” he said.