The U.S. sends 100 Switchblade drones to help Ukraine
A U.S. military package being dispatched to help Ukraine includes 100 Switchblade drones, a new phase of weaponry, Politico reported. Along with other systems, the weapons package is worth $800 million.
U.S.-led Western allies have been supporting the Ukrainian defense of its territory with weapon systems. The Russian invasion has now completed its third week and has found it tough to break the Ukrainian defense of its major cities even though it has lost control of nuclear reactor sites. The U.S. has snubbed Ukrainian requests to implement a no-fly zone over the country but is providing it more material to defend its skies.
Weapons assistance from European allies
In a drastic shift away from its policy of not supplying weapons to conflict zones, Germany has supplied 500 Stinger surface to air missiles and 1,000 anti-tank weapons, Al Jazeera reported.
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In addition to this, allies in Europe such as Bulgaria, Greece, and Slovakia are sending Soviet-era, S-300, long-range, surface to air missiles to Ukraine. Since the latter is also a user of the S-300 system, its troops can deploy these missiles without any training whatsoever.
Ukraine also uses the SA-8, a short-range air defense system that also has Russian origins. A key advantage of the system is that it is mobile and warehouses of Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria also have stocks of these systems.
Weapons from the U.S. stable
Politico reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's recent address to the U.S. Congress was accompanied by a request for greater military support from the U.S. that included Starstreak, portable air defense systems, more anti-tank weapons, long-range anti-ship missiles, armed drones, and electronic warfare equipment.
The U.S. has responded with an $800 million package that includes 800 more Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 2,000 anti-armor Javelins, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems, a lightweight recoilless rifle.
Mike McCaul, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee told Politico that the package also included 100 Switchblades, small and light drones that can be launched from a tube.
The drone system is GPS-guided and an operator can control its flight sitting dozens of miles away. Launched like a mortar shell, the drone can remain in the air for close to 30 minutes during which the operator can move it towards its target, where it crashes and explodes.
While the drone can take out vehicles, it can also be used to thwart ambushes, providing Ukrainian forces a distinct advantage if the Russian troops get too close to the capital city of Kyiv.