Fear of Falling into Russian Hands, US reviews sale of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone to Ukraine

Fear of Falling into Russian Hands, US reviews sale of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone to Ukraine
US reviews sale of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone to Ukraine

International Military
- President Joe Biden's administration plans to sell four large, armed drones to Ukraine have been discontinued. There are fears the advanced surveillance equipment might fall into enemy hands.

Technical objections to the sale were raised during an in-depth review by the Pentagon's Defense Technology Security Administration tasked with keeping high-value technology safe from adversary hands. Previously, the plan, which has been circulating since March, had been approved by the White House, three sources said.

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As Reuters reports, plans to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to Ukraine that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for use on the battlefield against Russia were first reported by Reuters in early June.

The objections over the drone exports have arisen because of concerns that radar and surveillance equipment on drones could pose a security risk to the US if they fall into Russian hands. Sources said this consideration had been overlooked in the initial review, but emerged at a meeting at the Pentagon last weekend.

Technology security reviews are standard practice for the transfer of US defense articles to all international partners. All cases are reviewed individually on their own merits. Through an established process, national security issues are raised to the appropriate approval authority," said Pentagon spokeswoman Sue Gough.

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"The decision whether to go ahead with the deal or not is now being reviewed higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon, but the timing of any decision is uncertain," one US official said on condition of anonymity.

One solution to move sales forward is to swap out the existing radar and sensor package for something less sophisticated, but that could take months to complete, one source explained.

If the drone sales case were allowed to continue, Congress would be given the opportunity to block it, even if it was deemed unlikely.

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Four Gray Eagle drones made by General Atomics were originally slated for delivery to the US Army, people familiar with the process said. According to Army budget documents, the Gray Eagles cost $10 million each.

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