Biden to announce $1B arms package, weighs giving Ukraine tank-killing Switchblade ‘kamikaze’ drones

Biden weighs giving Ukraine game-changing tank-killing Switchblade ‘kamikaze’ drones as part of $1B arms package

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(Video Credit: AeroVironment Inc.)

President Joe Biden is reportedly mulling over whether to provide Ukraine with deadly tank-killing kamikaze “Switchblade” drones as part of a $1 billion arms package to assist President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his fight against invading Russian forces.

The drones are small, lightweight, and inexpensive. They carry remotely controlled bombs and come in two versions that are designed to take out tanks or artillery targets with “loitering missiles.”

Washington DC-based AeroVironment is the producer of the technology. The proposal to send the drones to Ukraine was first reported by NBC News.

“It allows our warfighter to have a battlefield superiority, which our enemies can’t see, can’t hear, can’t tell it’s coming, and really precisely achieve a specific mission effect,” AeroVironment’s Afghan-born CEO Wahid Nawabi noted.

(Video Credit: NBC News)

“We stand with our allies and sovereign nations in their right to protect their homelands and their very lives when this fundamental right is threatened,” the company said on its website in a statement headlined “AeroVironment stands with the people of Ukraine and all of NATO.”

Zelenskyy is set to address Congress Wednesday in a plea for more weaponry to fight the Russians. The drones are reportedly seen as a measure to placate the Ukrainians because Biden fears implementing a no-fly zone and causing the conflict to erupt into a world war.

The Switchblade comes in two versions, the 300 and the 600. The 600 weighs 50 lbs. It can hover over an intended target for 40 minutes before striking at speeds of up to 115 mph. The drone has armor-piercing capabilities.

The 300 is intended to take out human targets either out in the open or in a vehicle. It weighs 5.5 lbs and can travel six miles. The drone is capable of hovering for 15 minutes and then striking the intended target at 100 mph.

Both drones are portable and can fit into a backpack. They are launched via a tube that is assembled within ten minutes. Very little training is required to deploy the weapons. The cost is minimal for the drones. A Switchblade 300 roughly costs $6,000 while a Hellfire missile goes for $150,000 per use via a Predator or Reaper drone, according to the Daily Mail.

The $1.01 billion arms package being announced by Biden is set to include anti-armor and anti-air systems, including portable air defenses such as Javelins and Stingers. Approximately $13.6 billion has been set aside for Ukraine in the omnibus budget.

The White House is now considering sending more troops to Europe as well, according to The Wall Street Journal, More than 15,000 have been deployed since the beginning of the war. Biden is still steadfastly refusing to send troops into Ukraine.

“We’re moving urgently to further augment the support to the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country,” Biden declared on Tuesday.

Both sides of the political aisle are calling for Biden to send more military support to Ukraine and Zelenskyy’s presentation on Wednesday will be a big factor in how much is given.

Republicans sent a letter Tuesday night to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for the administration to use $3 billion in emergency military aid for Ukraine recently approved by Congress “without delay,” according to the Daily Mail.

“As the invasion drags on, Russia will reorganize, resupply, consolidate its forces, and modify its tactics in an attempt to violently accelerate its advances,” the letter states. “Ukrainian forces will likely have to expend munitions from these and other weapons at an increasing rate — meaning the need for restocking will only grow more urgent with each passing day.”

The New York Times is reporting that two European diplomats assert that Zelenskyy has a “wish list” of arms he plans to ask the U.S. to supply. On that list are armed drones and communication jamming equipment.

Officials are attempting to deflect from the issues of fighter jets. Poland sought to give fighter jets to the U.S. to then supply them to Ukraine, but the Pentagon nixed the move, insisting it would put NATO at risk of becoming a Russian target.

Ukraine will most likely request larger mobile air-defense systems that can hit aircraft flying at higher altitudes than Stingers can reach. They are also said to be seeking long-range, anti-ship missiles as well as improved satellite navigation technology, tactical military radios, and other electronic warfare equipment. Controllers for drones are also on the proposed list.


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