For months now, Ukraine has been asking the US to supply powerful MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, but Washington has held back.
The Gray Eagles can fly for about 30 hours and are capable of carrying powerful Hellfire Missiles, giving Ukraine the ability to strike targets deep inside Russian territory.
Media reports have said that the US is concerned with the risk of the Gray Eagles escalating the war, but the main concern seems to be the possibility that sensitive technology in components of the drones could end up in Russia’s hands.
With this concern in mind, the US is considering altering Gray Eagles so that if Ukraine loses them on the battlefield, it doesn’t pose as much of a risk. “There are specific and very technical tweaks and neutering that can be done to these that may make it possible in the nearer term,” a congressional official told CNN.
The congressional source said that such alterations take time. A US official said that the US Army is leading the effort to study what changes need to be made to the Gray Eagles, which are made by General Atomics.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Biden administration has decided not to send the Gray Eagles over fear that it would signal to Moscow the US is encouraging Ukraine to hit targets inside Russia. But a US and Ukrainian official told CNN that providing the drones has not been ruled out.