The United States is set to donate 580 Phoenix Ghost kamikaze drones to Ukraine, deepening the country’s involvement in the simmering war in defiance of repeated warnings by Moscow.
The US Defense Department on Tuesday announced the additional security package valued at $270 million, including the Phoenix Ghost drones, additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, and ammunition.
The latest package has been drawn both from existing US military stocks and from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative fund, a senior defense official was quoted as saying during the briefing at the Pentagon.
“The Ukrainians have been making excellent use of the Phoenix Ghost system,” the official said. “And with the Phoenix Ghost system, what we’ll be able to do is ensure steady deliveries of this capability starting in August to ensure that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have a continual supply of this capability.”
The Phoenix Ghost is said to possess capabilities similar to AeroVironment’s Switchblade drone, but its full potential remains undisclosed, according to Air Force Magazine.
The 16th Presidential Drawdown, which raised $175 million, has taken the total military assistance the US has provided to Ukraine since Joe Biden took office to $8.2 billion.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that the flow of weapons to Kiev will only prolong the conflict.
Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Putin has warned that his country could expand the scope of its ongoing military operation in Ukraine if the West ramps up its weapons supplies to the former Soviet republic.