The United States is increasing its support of Ukraine with a new $800 million weapons package that reportedly contains 100 Switchblade drones, Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, a House and Foreign Affairs Committee member, told POLITICO.
The “tactical” drones, which explode on impact, represents a new phase of weapons being supplied to Ukraine by the U.S., which to date has provided the embattled country mostly with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry. “An administration official confirmed McCaul’s account that the U.S. is sending the Switchblade,” POLITICO reported.
The Switchblade is a small, light drone that can hover in the air for up to 30 minutes before being guided to a target by an operator on the ground, dozens of miles away. The drone is launched by a tube, much like a mortar shell.
Using real time GPS guidance a service member in the field can fly it until the moment it crashes and explodes into whatever target the service member chooses.
The weapon debuted in Afghanistan by U.S. special operations forces, and was quickly added to the Army and Marine corps’ arsenal who recognized the value of the light, accurate munition that is said to help thwart ambushes.
In addition, McCaul said the U.S. was “working with allies” to provide Ukraine more S-300 surface-to-air missile systems. Ukraine has had the S-300 for many years, meaning troops on the ground will require little-to-no training on how to operate the anti-aircraft equipment.
McCaul’s comments follow President Joe Biden’s commitment to send $800 million worth of military assistance to Ukraine. The package reportedly includes, “800 more Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 2,000 anti-armor Javelins, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems,” POLITICO reported.
“The United States and our allies and partners are fully committed to surging weapons of assistance to the Ukrainians, and more will be coming as we source additional stocks of equipment that we’re ready to transfer,” Biden said.
The announcement follows a flurry of virtual speeches Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered in both the U.S. and Canada, where he implored lawmakers to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine and provide his country with more assistance.
Many believe that should a no-fly zone be implemented by NATO over Ukraine it would lead to an escalation in conflict with the Russians that could possibly spark a third world war.
“I have a dream. These words are known to each of you today. I can say, I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your help,” Zelenskyy told U.S. lawmakers.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told POLITICO, “We need to give him more defense mechanisms. He kept saying no-fly zone. I think that’s probably still a non-starter,” adding that, “That doesn’t mean we can’t up the amount, do more with equipment and drones and other things that would be just as helpful.”
Kyiv has specifically asked the U.S. and its allies for more Stingers and Starstreak man-portable air-defence systems as well as Javelins and other anti-tank weapons, plus a litany of other weapons and technology including satellite navigation and communications jamming equipment.