A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the Pentagon to send advanced drones to Ukraine in a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sept. 21 and obtained by CNN.
“Ukraine could better confront Russian threats" with advanced Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, “like the MQ-1C Gray Eagle or the MQ-9A Reaper,” a group of 17 bipartisan lawmakers wrote in the letter to Austin.
“These advanced UAS systems, which could be staged far from the war’s front lines, would provide the continuous surveillance and long-range precision tracking and targeting needed to counter Russian rockets and missiles,” the lawmakers wrote.
Lawmakers stressed in the letter that it is important to complete the assessment of whether to send MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones “in a timely manner.”
“While important, thorough risk assessment and mitigation should not come at the expense of Ukrainian lives,” the lawmakers wrote.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the letter.
The Pentagon is aware of Ukraine’s request for MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon Thursday.
“We are aware that Ukrainians have asked for Gray Eagles, or have an interest in Gray Eagles, no decisions have been made in that regard,” Ryder said.
The US has, throughout the conflict, given Ukraine other weapons that include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities like Puma drones, ScanEagle drones, Switchblade drones and Phoenix Ghost drones, Ryder said.
“We continue to maintain a robust dialogue with Ukraine and the international community about what we, the international community, can do to support Ukraine, but that’s where we’re at, at this point,” Ryder added.