Ghost Drones, Helicopters and Howitzers: Terrible weapons the US is sending to Ukrαine
A Soldier conducts registration and calibration for the M777A2 howitzer weapon system in Syria, Sept. 30, 2021.
U.S. Army Spc. Isaiah Scott | U.S. Army
WASHINGTON — From heavy artillery to tactical drones to armored vehicles, the U.S. has provided $3.4 billion in weapons to Ukrαine since Russiα’s invasion two months ago.
The latest military aid package of $800 million, which is the eighth installment of aid, comes after eight weeks of war and as Russiαn forces prepare for a renewed fight in the east and south of Ukrαine.
Included in the latest security package, are 121 tactical unmanned aerial systems dubbed “Phoenix Ghost” drones.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the drones were “rapidly developed by the Air Force, in response, specifically to Ukrαiniαn requirements.”
“It provides similar capabilities to the Switchblade series of unmanned systems, similar capabilities but not exact. There are other differences in the scope of capability for the Phoenix Ghosts, but I’m just not going to be able to get into more detail about those capabilities right now,” Kirby said.
The drones are manufactured by Aevex Aerospace in Solana Beach, Calif., and are currently in the U.S. Air Force arsenal. Once the drones are in the region, U.S. troops will have to train Ukrαiniαn forces on how to operate them, Kirby told reporters during a daily press briefing. He did not provide a timeline for when the drones would arrive in the region.
The U.S. has also committed at least 300 Switchblade drones manufactured by U.S.-based firm AeroVironment. There are two variants of the weapon, the Switchblade 300 and the 600. It was not immediately clear which version the U.S. deployed to Ukrαine.
Each Switchblade is designed to be a single-use or a “kamikaze” drone.
The 300 variant is designed to strike small targets. It can fit in a rucksack, weighs a little over 5 pounds and has a range of 10 miles. The 600 version of the weapon is designed to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles. It weighs slightly more than 120 pounds and has a range of more than 40 miles.
Armored and tactical vehicles
U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, engage a target from a M113A2 armored vehicle during squad maneuver training at Grafenwoehr Training Area on Jan. 14, 2013.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Pablo Piedra | U.S. Army
The U.S. has committed hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukrαiniαn forces, including 200 M113 armored vehicles and 100 armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles.
The U.S. military has also allocated at least 72 tactical vehicles for the purpose of towing U.S Army and U.S. Marine Corps 155mm howitzers around the battlefield.
U.S. Marines with Alpha Battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, fire their M777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer during Exercise Alligator Dagger in Arta Beach, Djibouti, Dec. 18.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Laning | U.S. Marine Corps
The last two U.S. weapons packages for Ukrαine have included a total of 90 howitzer artillery systems. These are the first-known heavy artillery platforms to be transferred from U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps stockpiles to Ukrαiniαn forces.
The Pentagon confirmed that Ukrαine forces will have to train alongside U.S. troops before operating the howitzers. The Pentagon said earlier this week that the training had already begun and was taking place in a location outside of Ukrαine but in the region.
Along with the howitzers, the U.S. has sent approximately 184,000 artillery rounds.
Missiles and other anti-armor systems
A U.S. infantryman at a combined arms live fire exercise at Al-Ghalail Range in Qatar, on Nov. 14, 2018.
Spc. Jovi Prevot | U.S. Army
High on the wishlists of Ukrαiniαn forces are the Javelin portable anti-armor weapons. To date, the U.S. has transferred nearly 6,000 Javelins, which are co-produced by defense giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, to the Ukrαiniαn government.
In addition, the U.S. has committed nearly 2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems to Ukrαine, 6,000 portable AT-4 anti-armor systems as well as other laser-guided rocket systems.
Aircraft and radars
Russiαn Mil Mi-17 and Mil Mi-24military helicopters fly over the northeastern Syrian town of al-Malikiyahat the border with Turkey, on June 3, 2020.
Delil Souleiman | AFP | Getty Images
The U.S. has agreed to send at least 11 Mi-17 Russiαn military helicopters that were once slated to join Afghanistan’s military fleet before the stunning Taliban takeover of the country.
The Mi-17s are personnel transport helicopters that can be armed with cannons and rockets, to perform αttαck or close air support roles.
The U.S. military has also committed 10 of the highly mobile AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars. This radar system is capable of locating mortars, artillery and rockets within a short-range.
Two Raytheon AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars have also joined the fight in Ukrαine. The Sentinel system is designed to alert front-line air-defense weapons whenever it catches a glimpse of hostile planes, helicopters, drones or missiles.
U.S. Army Pvt. Adam Eggers shoots his M4 rifle at a live-fire range on Camp Blessing in Kunar province, Afghanistan, July 27, 2009.
U.S. Army Spc. Evan Marcy | U.S. Army
The Pentagon has sent nearly 40 million rounds of small arms ammunition and more than 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns and 400 shotguns to Ukrαine.
The U.S. has also dedicated more than 1 million grenades, mortars and artillery rounds.
Soldiers from A Company , 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment sort and pack some of the surplus 84,000 ballistic helmets being shipped to armed forces and emergency workers in Ukrαine on March 31, 2022 in Donnington, England.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images
To date, the U.S. has sent more than 30,000 sets of body armor and helmets to Ukrαinian forces, according to figures provided by the Pentagon.
In addition, the U.S. has also equipped Ukrαiniαn troops with night vision devices, thermal imagery systems and other forms of militarized optics.
The U.S. has also included medical supplies as well as equipment used to aid in combat evacuations. In addition, hundreds of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective equipment have also left U.S. stockpiles for Ukrαine.