Stop Sales of Gray Eagle fighter drones to Ukraine, Kiev Now Wants F-15 and F-16 Fighter Jets

Stop Sales of Gray Eagle fighter drones to Ukraine, Kiev Now Wants F-15 and F-16 Fighter Jets
Kiev Now Wants F-15 and F-16 Fighter Jets

Kiev - When Washington reportedly stopped selling Gray Eagle fighter drones to Ukraine, military officials in Kiev are now asking for fighter jets like the F-15 and F-16 instead.

According to Ukrainian officials, the fighter jet has a better chance against Russian air defenses. Ukraine is not Afghanistan and expensive drones will be shot down,” one pilot told Foreign Policy this week.

Retired American officers and experts such as Moscow-born Max Boot have vehemently advocated sending the Gray Eagles to Ukraine. According to Boot, the drones are a potential "game changer" in conflict.

However, the White House has postponed plans to send four such drones to Kiev, Reuters reported last week. The US fears the drone could fall into Russian hands. Read also: Ramzan Kadyrov Claims His Troops Surround Ukrainian Troops at Zolote While Ukrainian generals want to get their hands on drones, pilots prefer US fighter-bombers, according to Foreign Policy.

"We don't recommend Gray Eagles," a pilot called "Moonfish" told the outlet. He added, “It is very dangerous to use such expensive drones in our case, because of the enemy's air defenses. It's not Afghanistan here."

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is the latest in General Atomics' line of drones used during the US "war on terror," from Afghanistan and Iraq to Somalia and Yemen.

The drones are armed with Hellfire missiles, which have a range of about eight kilometers, shorter than the Switchblade or Phoenix Ghost suicide drones the US has sent to Ukraine. "This could be useful on the front lines," said another fighter pilot, nicknamed "Jus". However, he added, the Gray Eagles probably wouldn't last more than a mission or two. Each drone costs $10 million.

Ukraine has made a big deal by having Turkey's Bayraktar TB2 attack drone in its arsenal. TB2 costs around $2 million or more. Moonfish claims the TB2 was "very useful and important" in the early days of the conflict, but is "virtually useless" now that Russian forces have beefed up their air defenses.

The pilot told Foreign Policy that, “Ukraine is now restricting the use of the Bayraktar to special operations and rare strike missions.” Russia's war correspondent, said it was because most of the drones had been shot down by Moscow forces. “We have more pilots than jets now,” Moonfish said, suggesting he and his colleagues should be trained on “advanced” US fighter jets such as the F-15 and F-16, which would be more defensive against the Russian S-400.

Both types first appeared in the 1970s. They have been repeatedly upgraded since then, and the latest versions are considered by Western experts to be on par with Russia's Su-35 and MiG-35 jets, and slightly ahead of the Ukrainian Su-27 and Mig-29 fighters that were in service at the start of the conflict. However, there is no indication the US has reserves, or that there is political will in Washington to send the fighter jets to Ukraine.

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