US-customized Phoenix Ghost drones for Ukraine: Pentagon
The United States is providing Ukraine with military assistance and the desired Phoenix Ghost drones.
The Phoenix Ghost drones were designed in response to Ukrainian specifications and will require minimal training, according to a senior US defense official during a press briefing.
"What I can tell you about the Phoenix Ghost [drone] is this was rapidly developed by the [US] Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements," the official said on Thursday.
"It will require some minimal training for knowledgeable UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] operators to be able to use it and we are going to be working through those training requirements directly with the Ukrainian Armed Forces."
The Phoenix Ghost drones have similar capabilities to the Switchblade, but not exactly the same ones, as there are certain variances in the Phoenix's capabilities, according to the official.
Later in the day, Defense Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the US Air Force had begun developing the Phoenix Ghost drone prior to the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine on February 24. The Pentagon's interactions with Ukrainian authorities-led US defense officials to believe that this drone technology will "nicely suit their needs, particularly in eastern Ukraine."
US President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the US will provide Ukraine with another $800 million in security assistance. The new US security aid package for Ukraine will include 72 Howitzers, 144,000 artillery rounds, and more than 121 Phoenix tactical drones, parts, and other equipment, according to the Defense Department. The current military aid package is the eighth reduction in security support for the country during the confrontation with Russia.
US to conduct additional training
Amid the current confrontation with Russia, the United States will offer more military training for Ukrainians on US counter-artillery radar, the Phoenix Ghost drone, and the M113 armored vehicles, according to Defense Department Spokesperson John Kirby.
“We fully expect that there'll be some additional training and familiarization done on some of these things like the counter artillery radar, the Phoenix Ghost, even the M113 armored vehicles will require a little bit of familiarization,” Kirby said during a press briefing on Thursday.
Read more: US announces new $300 million arms package for Ukraine
The Defense Department announced on Wednesday that the US has begun training more than 50 Ukrainians outside of Ukraine on how to operate Howitzers in a program that will last about a week.