November 14- In an effort to convince Washington to change its prior position, Ukraine has renewed its request for the United States to give it strong drones and anti-drone weapons. This comes as Russia increasingly uses kamikaze drones to attack civilian facilities.
According to a document seen by Reuters and people familiar with the request, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov requested four MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial systems on November 2 with the invasion by Moscow now in its ninth month. In a separate document, Reznikov also requested a counter-drone missile for the first time.
The counter-drone AGM-114L or LONGBOW and the drones, which cost about $10 million each, would strengthen Ukraine's civil air defences and aid in thwarting Russia's growing use of kamikaze drones produced in Iran far from the front lines.
Since the drones were not necessary to Ukraine's military effort, they could be shot down, and they may worsen the situation, the US denied Kyiv's earlier request for them.
But since it was submitted in conjunction with the LONGBOW request and specifically targeted at safeguarding infrastructure and civilians, Ukraine is hoping that its most recent pitch will persuade Washington.
Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, like as the electricity grid and water systems, increased last month, resulting in disruptions as Russian forces were in some areas driven back by Ukrainian forces. According to Kyiv, more than a third of its energy infrastructure was destroyed in the attacks.
Moscow acknowledges attacking the energy sector's infrastructure, but it denies doing so against citizens.
Since Russia began what it refers to as a "special military operation" on February 24, the United States has provided around $17.9 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.
Lieutenant Colonel Garron Garn, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on specific Ukrainian requests. "Our support focuses on equipment that is relevant for the current fight," Garn said in a statement.
Reznikov recognised in the letter that the transfer of the General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle was "difficult," but claimed that the big unmanned aircraft system would hinder Russia's capacity to strike deeply into Ukrainian territory and maybe prevent Russia from being able to attack from Belarus.
The Gray Eagles could monitor civilian air space far from front-line regions protected by Russian anti-air systems and maybe avoid enraging Moscow if paired with a counter-drone Hellfire missile type, according to people familiar with the request.
Reznikov stated in his letter that strikes behind the front lines provide a significant challenge for current air defence systems.
Kyiv has so far depended on a combination of technologies from the Soviet era and weapons delivered by Western partners, but it lacks an integrated system of air defences to coordinate platform shootdowns, leaving unprotected civilian infrastructure.
Ukraine asked for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle system to use Hellfire missiles to fight down Russian aircraft and cruise missiles in the early stages of the invasion.
However, sources claim that the Pentagon rejected the proposal in the early fall because American officials were concerned that the Russians may seize the drone and steal the technology.
According to persons familiar with the situation, defence officials briefed senators in private about that choice last week, making similar reasons and emphasising that Russia might regard the drones as provocative.
The Army's Predator drone, known as the Gray Eagle, has a 25,000-foot operational ceiling and would be a significant technological advance for Ukraine.
It can fly for 30 hours or longer, gather a tonne of intelligence information, and transport up to eight potent Hellfire missiles.
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Edited by: Satyavrat Singh