Reuters reported on Friday that a Biden administration plan to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to Ukraine has been put on pause over fears of the drone’s surveillance technology falling into “enemy hands.”
The MQ-1C Gray Eagle can be armed with hellfire missiles and can fly for about 30 hours. If sold to Kyiv, the drone would give Ukrainian forces the capabilities to carry out airstrikes deep inside Russian territory.
Sources told Reuters that the plan to sell the drones to Ukraine was approved by the White House but was put on hold due to an objection raised during a review by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration.
The objection was raised over concerns that if Russia acquired the radar and surveillance technology inside the drones, it would create a security risk for the US. The sale will now be reviewed at a higher level in the Pentagon, and it’s not clear when a decision might be made.
The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is made by General Atomics, and it’s estimated they each cost about $10 million, according to Army budget documents. If the sale happens, it’s likely it will be paid for by the US under Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to buy US-made weapons. The $40 billion Ukraine aid package President Biden recently signed into law included $4 billion for FMF.
If approved by the Biden administration, the sale could potentially be blocked by Congress, but that’s unlikely to happen as most lawmakers don’t seem too concerned over the risk of provoking Moscow. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) slammed the administration this week for what he said was “too cautious” of an approach when it came to doling out weapons to Ukraine and called for the drone sale to be pushed through.