MQ-9 Reaper Drone, At $30 Million A Pop, Top's Zelensky's Wish List

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, May 08, 2024 - 02:00 AM

Because it's never enough... Ukraine is now eyeing the US-made MQ-9 Reaper even while Kiev awaits F-16 deliveries from the West.

It is the latest long-range weapon system being sought by the Zelensky government. Politico has reported that the $30 million drone has moved to the top of Kiev's arms shopping 'wish list'.

Picture alliance/dpa

"Ukraine is increasingly interested in obtaining the MQ-9 Reaper spy drone from the U.S., bumping it up to the top of its wish list in recent months as it plans operations for the summer and seeks new ways to help identify Russian targets deep behind the front lines," the report indicates.

"Since the early days of the war, the Reaper has been a priority for Kyiv as it sought to use them for strike and surveillance missions," Politico continues. "But recently, Ukraine has dialed back that request and is mainly interested in using Reapers only for reconnaissance, according to four people familiar with the issue who were granted anonymity to discuss the new strategy."

Ukrainian officials who now claim the Reaper would be used "only for reconnaissance" appear to in reality to be creating political cover for the Biden administration. US officials might otherwise be fearful of the risks.

At $30 million a piece, the MQ-9 would be a prime target for the Russians to shoot down. In 2023 the Pentagon lost a Reaper over the Black Sea after an encounter with Russian fighter jets. A jet dumbed its fuel on the drone, after which the drone crashed, and later the Russian navy recovered the wreckage.

The Pentagon has also lost three MQ-9 drones over Yemen and the Red Sea of late. A deep reluctance to see them shot down over Ukraine is likely a main reason the US is still holding back. The drone is typically equipped with expensive Hellfire missiles and other advanced defense tech.

But, the Biden administration has more recently seemed to back off its prior insistence that Ukraine not strike inside Russian territory...

Already Ukraine forces are newly receiving the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which has the longest range of anything supplied from Washington thus far.

Meanwhile, UK leadership is positively encouraging strikes deep inside Russian territory. This has elicited a strong response from Moscow who has also stepped up its aerial attack especially on Ukraine's energy infrastructure and military command and control centers, including in Odessa of late.