U.S. Fast-Tracked ‘Phoenix Ghost’ Drone Being Sent to Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- The latest $800 million package of weaponry President Joe Biden is sending Ukraine includes dozens of “Phoenix Ghost” drones the Pentagon says were expedited specifically to aid the fight against Russia.
The unmanned aerial vehicles built by AEVEX Aerospace were “rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.
Kirby said the drones have similar but distinct capabilities to the Switchblade drones the U.S. has already been providing Ukraine to target both Russian personnel and tanks as the war drags on.
“We believed that this particular system would very nicely suit their needs, particularly in eastern Ukraine,” Kirby said. “It’s principal focus is to attack.”
In addition, the drone has optical abilities to aid in strikes against enemy forces, he added. It was in development before the war began and is part of the Air Force’s inventory, Kirby said.
A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the weaponry, said the drone would be useful against a variety of targets. The Phoenix Ghost was included in the latest weapons package Biden announced Thursday that also featured 72 155mm Howitzers, 72 tactical vehicles and 144,000 artillery rounds.
AEVEX is a closely held company based in Solana Beach, California that says it provides “full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions.” An employee answering the phone at the company’s offices declined to comment.
The Switchblade drones previously sent to Ukraine are built by AeroVironment Inc. The newer models can fly more than 24 miles (39 kilometers) and loiter 40 minutes before attacking with an anti-armor warhead. The drone operator uses a tablet-based touchscreen fire-control system with the option to pilot the loitering missile manually.
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