What are Ghost Drones? US killer weapon sent to Ukraine may turn the tide of war
The US is supplying a deadly new weapon to Ukraine as the war-torn nation fights back against the Russian offensive led by Vladimir Putin. The Pentagon announced that previously classified Phoenix Ghost drones had been specially customized for the ongoing conflict.
President Joe Biden briefly referenced the weapons system while announcing the latest $800 million aid package to Ukraine's arsenal. While there's limited information about the weaponry, the package is said to include 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones which have capabilities similar to the 'Switchblade' drone the US has already provided Ukraine in the previous military aid package.
What are Ghost Drones?
Defense Secretary Admiral John Kirby said the drones were "rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements" and have the capability of taking out tanks and other armor after being launched from a tube and guiding themselves into the target for one-time use. That said, Pentagon officials were rather vague in explaining the newly designed drone. "It provides the same sort of tactical capability that a Switchblade [drone] does," a Defense official told Stars & Stripes on condition of anonymity. "[The] Switchblade is a one-way drone, and it clearly is designed to deliver a punch."
The single-use drone system is said to be relatively cheap to produce and is able to hover above a target before taking it out on command. The military newspaper said the official declined to give more information on scope and capability owing to its level of classification. "It provides the same sort of tactical capability that a Switchblade [drone] does," the official explained. "[The] Switchblade is a one-way drone, and it clearly is designed to deliver a punch," they added.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby discusses sending “Phoenix Ghost” drones to Ukraine.— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) April 22, 2022
The drones were in development before Russia’s invasion and Kirby says this unmanned aerial system would very nicely suit their needs. He spoke at a news briefing https://t.co/asaB40eJMC pic.twitter.com/OM9lBFH5La
According to the report, the new drones are part of an aid package that already includes 90 howitzers and 144,000 rounds of ammunition. They were manufactured by California-based firm AEVEX Aerospace, albeit no photos were immediately available. The manufacturer calls itself "a recognized leader in full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions." Meanwhile, the company's website features articles on "selecting the right LiDAR systems for your drone" with a detailed explanation of the laser-driven guidance system.
US new $800mill military aid package to Ukraine:— 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔇𝔢𝔞𝔡 𝔇𝔦𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔦𝔠𝔱 (@TheDeadDistrict) April 22, 2022
• 72 155mm Howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds (18 howitzers and 44K rounds in the first round)
• 72 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
• Over 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones
• Field equipment and spare parts
Biden also confirmed that the US had provided 10 anti-tank weapons for every Russian tank in the field in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it would continue to aid Ukraine and that military leaders were developing a new supplemental appropriations request for Congress. "This commitment, together with the 18 155mm howitzers announced on April 13, provides enough artillery systems to equip five battalions," Kirby said in a statement. "The United States has now committed more than $4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $3.4 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24." He added, "The United States also continues to work with its allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities. The United States will continue to utilize all available tools to support Ukraine’s Armed Forces in the face of Russian aggression."