General Atomics proposed to sell two MQ-9 long-range UAVs to Ukraine for $ 1, but Kyiv has to spend tens of millions of dollars on transportation and maintenance.
According to the proposal of Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics, announced by US media on January 31, the US arms corporation will sell Ukraine two long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), MQ-9 Reaper, with a price of 1 USD. This proposal was passed by Mr. Blue to Ukraine’s defense attaché to the US last week.
However, under the agreement, Ukraine will have to spend about 10 million USD to transport the plane back home and about 8 million USD per year for maintenance and replacement parts. In addition, the proposal also includes a ground control station so that these UAVs can operate almost anywhere in the territory of Ukraine.
The sale of the MQ-9 UAV will need to be approved by the administration of US President Joe Biden before deployment. The White House and the Ukrainian government declined to comment on the report.
A spokesman for General Atomics said the group could not comment on a specific deal but expressed confidence ” Ukraine will soon need a capable weapon like the MQ-9″.
“General Atomics has been discussing the requests made by the Ukrainian armed forces to the government for several months and is committed to supporting them in any way possible,” a spokesman for the company said.
The US has provided over 700 small UAVs to Ukraine, including the Switchblade model. These types of UAVs do not carry weapons but perform a suicide attack by rushing straight at the target. They are compact in size and fit into a soldier’s backpack.
The MQ-9 is a complex weapon with a range, speed, and capacity significantly higher than the UAV models that the US has transferred to Ukraine. The MQ-9 has a wingspan of 20m, is 11 m long, can reach a maximum speed of 482 km/h, operates for more than 24 hours, and carries a variety of weapons.
Western experts say that the MQ-9 and MQ-1C Gray Eagle, another UAV model built by General Atomics, will allow Ukraine to ambush and monitor Russian forces from a safer distance.
However, the White House refused to provide the MQ-1C, an operational UAV model the US Army is operating, to Ukraine due to concerns that Russia could shoot them down and obtain sensitive technology.