- Ukraine has received thousands of drones from the US to help fight Russian forces.
- Among them are hundreds of Phoenix Ghosts, drones developed by the United States to attack targets.
- Little is known about the Phoenix Ghost, so it has rarely been seen in Ukraine.
US military aid is key to Ukraine’s effective defense against a new Russian aggression.
Most of these weapons come from US military stockpiles, but some come straight from the design table. The Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial System is one of them.
Elusive Phoenix Ghost
In late April, the Pentagon announced it would send 121 Phoenix Ghost drones to Ukraine.
According to the Pentagon, the U.S. Air Force had been working on the Phoenix Ghost long before Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border on February 24. Began to tailor its development to the specific needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The limited information the Pentagon has provided about the Phoenix Ghost suggests that it is a loitering ammunition designed for a single strike. Often fired by soldiers very close to the front lines. Loitering ammunition is designed for relatively short flights that end on impact with the target.
In April, then-Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the Phoenix Ghost was “similar” to Switchblade, a tactical unmanned aircraft system that the U.S. military began sending to Ukraine in March. .
The Switchblade-300 and -600 are loitering ammunition for use against infantry and armored targets respectively. They’re “basically one-way drones,” Kirby said at the time.
Although the Phoenix Ghost has optics and sensors, it is “designed for tactical operations,” Kirby added. “In other words, it’s not primarily just to hit the target.”
As of September, the Pentagon has sent about 700 Phoenix Ghost drones to Ukraine. But despite hundreds of drones in use in Ukraine and close surveillance of battlefields around the world, a bit glimpse of drones in action against Russian forces.
billions of security aid
So far, the U.S. military has deployed or committed to deploy four strategic or tactical unmanned aerial systems, each designed for a different purpose, to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
These drones are the AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma, a small UAV designed for tactical reconnaissance. Switchblade also created by AeroVironment. Boeing Insitu Scan Eagle, a rugged low-altitude drone. The Phoenix Ghost was designed by Aevex Aerospace as part of a secret US Air Force program.
Overall, the U.S. military has pledged to provide Ukrainian forces with approximately 2,000 drones to launch strikes and perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Drones are just one part of a huge US-led effort To improve Ukraine’s self-defense capabilities in the wake of the 2014 Russian attack. Since then, the United States has pledged more than $17.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
Since the Biden administration took office in January 2021, U.S. security assistance to Ukraine has totaled more than $15.2 billion, and since the latest Russian offensive launched on February 24, the U.S. has sent about $145 million to Kyiv. Provides $100 million in security assistance.
These weapons and the training provided by the United States and other nations are critical to Ukraine’s successful defense.
Weapons such as the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile, the AGM-88 high-velocity anti-radiation missile, or the M142 high-mobility artillery rocket system really help the Ukrainian military to hold the line and maintain a steady counterattack.
Concerns that supplying Ukraine with Western-made weapons could provoke escalation with Russia appear to have eased, and while the United States is supplying Ukrainians with more sophisticated weapons, fighter planes, etc. Some weapons have not yet been added to that list.
Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in Special Operations, a Greek Army Veteran (575th Marine Battalion and National Service in Army Headquarters), and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University. He is currently working towards his master’s degree in strategy and cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).