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Ukraine conflict: General Atomics offers to donate two UAVs to Ukraine

An MQ-9A Reaper. (US Air Force)

US-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has offered to transfer two company-owned MQ-9A Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a ground-control station, and related equipment to Ukraine for the symbolic price of USD1 to help the war-torn country improve its airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, according to GA-ASI's chief executive.

US and allied forces have used Reapers extensively in combat, and providing such aircraft to Ukraine would have an “immediate impact” on the country's war with Russia, CEO Linden Blue said in a 1 February statement.

The offer includes free training for the first cadre of Ukrainian pilots and maintainers. It excludes the cost of readying the aircraft for combat, transporting them to Ukraine, setting them up in that country, obtaining satellite bandwidth, or providing additional supporting labour, all of which are “outside of our control”, according to Blue.

GA-ASI made its proposal public amid months-long US government resistance to sending the company's UAVs to Ukraine. While Ukraine has received artillery, tanks, and other much-needed military support from the West, it continues to lack “high-quality” UAVs, GA-ASI spokesperson C Mark Brinkley told Janes on 2 February. “This is a capability gap that really shouldn't be ignored any longer,” Brinkley said.

US Navy Lieutenant Commander Tim Gorman, a spokesperson for the US Department of Defense (DoD), declined to comment on GA-ASI's offer. “[The] DoD will continue to consult closely with Ukraine on all their security assistance needs – both near and longer term,” Gorman said in a 3 February statement. “We have no further/additional information to provide regarding specific platforms or weapons systems at this time.”

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