According to two persons familiar with the situation, the Biden administration’s proposal to transfer four big, armable drones to Ukraine has been halted due to concerns that their sophisticated monitoring technology may slip into hostile hands.
The technical objection to the sale was identified during a more thorough evaluation by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration, which is in charge of keeping high-value technology out of the hands of adversaries. Three sources claimed the White House previously authorized the concept, which has been circulating since March.
The idea to provide Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones capable of carrying Hellfire missiles for use on the battlefield against Russia was originally revealed by Reuters earlier this month.
The objection to the drone sale originated from fears that the radar and surveillance technology on the drones may pose a security danger to the US if it fell into Russian hands.
According to the sources, this concern was omitted in the first analysis but was brought up in discussions at the Pentagon late last week.
“For the transfer of US defense products to all overseas partners, technology security evaluations are common practice. All cases are considered on their own merits. National security issues are escalated to the relevant approving authority via the established process “Sue Gough, a Pentagon spokesman, said
The decision to maintain the contract is now being examined further up the chain of command at the Pentagon, but the timing of any decision is unknown, according to one of the persons, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
One possibility to expedite the sale would be to replace the present radar and sensor equipment with something less complex, but this might take months, according to one of the individuals.
If the case for selling the drones is permitted to proceed, Congress will have the opportunity to block it, but this is considered improbable.
According to those acquainted with the procedure, the four General Atomics Gray Eagle drones were initially intended for the US Army.
According to Army budget documents, the Gray Eagles cost $10 million each.