Waiting for rejection. Ukraine wants MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV
Ukraine does not abandon attempts to obtain American-made reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicles. Earlier it was reported about the negotiations on the supply of MQ-9 Reaper products, and now the Kiev regime is begging Drones MQ-1C Gray Eagle. However, the American side may refuse to transfer such equipment.
Earlier in April, it was reported that the Ukrainian delegation held talks with the American company General Atomics. The possibility of supplying various types of heavy reconnaissance and strike UAVs to Ukraine was discussed. First of all, the MQ-9 apparatus was mentioned in this context. The Ukrainian side showed enviable optimism, but it was not possible to get the desired equipment. However, now she is making a new attempt, albeit with more modest requests.
On April 27, the American publication Politico, citing its source in the Ukrainian military department, reported a new attempt to obtain a UAV. According to him, Ukraine sent the US leadership another list of desired weapons and equipment, and along with other products, it included MQ-1C drones, as well as AGM-114 Hellfire guided missiles for them.
The Ukrainian side is waiting for a positive response, which may be followed by the first deliveries. However, the American side is in no hurry to please Kyiv. Moreover, US officials decline to comment on the possibility of transferring heavy attack UAVs.
Politico recalls that the sale of reconnaissance and strike drones abroad is a complex topic in general. An export contract of this kind must be reviewed by the State Department and the Pentagon, which evaluate its benefits and risks. At the same time, the exported UAV is considered taking into account the conditions of the Missile Technology Control Regime. As a result, not all contracts are approved - even close partners are denied.
If Kyiv really sent Washington an official request for Gray Eagle products, it will have to go through all the assessments and other procedures. It is very likely that the regulatory authorities will not make an exception and will not approve the export of such UAVs. Accordingly, the current news won't get a sequel.
General Atomics developed the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV in the early 1s, it was created as a deeply modernized version of the existing MQ-2004 Predator. During the update of the project, all the main functions were retained, but at the same time, the characteristics increased and new features appeared. In 1, the MQ-2009C took to the air for the first time, and in XNUMX it was put into service. The following year, combat use began in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Already in 2011, the UAV had to be modified due to the low reliability of some systems. Then a process of gradual modernization began in order to improve performance. Instruments and systems for various purposes were replaced, new devices were introduced. An Improved Gray Eagle or GE-ER drone has also been developed with improved flight data. The interaction of unmanned and manned aviation complexes.
Since the middle of the 200s, more than 1 serial MQ-180Cs have been built. The bulk of them, at least 24 units, came into the possession of the US Army Aviation. Another XNUMX products are available from the Special Operations Command. Foreign countries were not supplied with Gray Eagle, and several requests for purchase were rejected.
MQ-1Cs are deployed at a number of US air bases around the world and are actively used in different regions. First of all, drones work in hot spots and conduct reconnaissance, striking if necessary. The monthly flight time of the entire fleet in some periods reached 3-4 thousand hours.
The MQ-1C UAV is based on the older Predator product and retains its main features. The fuselage of a small cross-section with a large nose fairing, a thin wing of high elongation and an L-shaped tail were retained. The wingspan is 17 m, length - 8,5 m. The empty unit weighs 1300 kg, the maximum takeoff weight does not exceed 1900 kg. Of these, 360 kg falls on the payload.
The Gray Eagle is powered by a 1.7 hp Thielert Centurion 165 piston engine. with push screw. With its help, the UAV develops a maximum speed of up to 310 km/h. The basic version of the drone carries 260 kg of fuel, which allows you to stay in the air for about a day. The upgraded GE-ER has internal tanks of 390 kg and can carry outboards of various capacities. Due to this, the flight duration reaches 42-50 hours.
To solve the problem of reconnaissance, the UAV is equipped with an optoelectronic "ball" of the AN / AAS-52 type under the forward fuselage. It was proposed to replace it with other samples. An AN / ZPY-1 STARLite synthetic aperture radar is placed in an enlarged nose fairing. Other instruments for reconnaissance and data collection were also developed.
Data from the monitoring equipment is transmitted in real time to the control station. Commands of various kinds come back. Communication means provide work at a distance of up to 400 km from it. There is also a satellite communication system that allows you to increase the distance between the operator and the UAV.
Under the wing of the MQ-1C, there are four external hardpoints. The UAV can carry up to four AGM-114 air-to-surface missiles or four GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bombs. It is also possible to use up to 92 AIM-8 Stinger air-to-air missiles.
In general, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle from General Atomics is a fairly successful UAV with extensive reconnaissance capabilities and some strike potential. Over the past 10-12 years, the US Air Force and SOF have been actively using all its functions and getting the desired results. At the same time, such equipment is not shared even with the closest allies - primarily because of the high level of characteristics.
After a recent failure to obtain larger MQ-9s, the Kyiv regime is trying to beg for other models of drones. However, it can be assumed that the request for the MQ-1C will also not be approved. A different outcome is unlikely, but it cannot be completely ruled out. At the same time, the supply of American equipment as a whole will not give Ukraine any advantages.
First of all, there are financial difficulties. General Atomics will not give away the equipment for free, and its purchase would be prohibitively expensive for the Kyiv regime or its backers. So, one MQ-1C UAV costs approx. $8 million. A complete complex with four drones, a control station and other components will cost $80-90 million. Whether such costs can be included in the Ukrainian budget or in foreign aid programs is a big question.
The next problem is preparation of operation. The Ukrainian army lacks specialists capable of operating American heavy UAVs and ensuring their operation. Their training will take at least several months, which is unacceptable in the current situation. Sending American specialists is excluded for political reasons and because of military risks.
Gray Eagle products in practice confirmed their capabilities and solved various problems. However, they have so far had to work only in the absence of a developed enemy air defense. An attempt to use such technology in Ukraine will have obvious consequences. Russian air defense without any particular difficulties will be able to identify the UAV and hit it, incl. long before reaching the reconnaissance lines or launching missiles.
Dreams and Reality
Thus, the news about the Ukrainian request for reconnaissance and strike UAVs MQ-1C resembles others storiesthat have taken place in recent months. The Kyiv regime wants to get advertised foreign equipment and already has high hopes for it. However, obtaining the desired products is associated with serious difficulties. Moreover, drones may not live up to expectations - even if they are delivered.
If the information from Politico is true, and Ukraine has submitted a request to the United States for Gray Eagle drones, now everything depends on the American side. The Pentagon and the State Department must evaluate the need and prospects for such an export supply and make their decision. Obviously, it will be based only on the interests of the United States - and, most likely, will turn out to be negative.
- Ryabov Kirill
- General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
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