The Pentagon has developed a weapon specifically for Ukraine to use against Russia as the Kremlin shows no signs of easing its invasion, a senior US defense official said Thursday.
The “Phoenix Ghost” is a drone similar to the Switchblade drone, which the Pentagon has already dispatched to Ukraine.
“It’s designed to deliver a punch,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Washington will provide more than 120 of these custom-made drones to Ukraine, which will help them target Russian troops and equipment.
“What I can tell you about the [drone] is that this was rapidly developed by the Air Force, in response, specifically, for Ukrainian requirements,” the official said.
Later, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby seemingly contradicted the comments and said the unmanned aerial system was already in development before Russia invaded Ukraine almost two months ago. Kirby said the drone was designed to “attack targets.”
Pressed about the differing statements between his comments and the senior defense official, Kirby said: “It was developed before [the invasion]… but it was developed for a set of requirements that very closely match what the Ukrainians need right now in Donbass.”
The senior defense official also said Moscow had sent in three more battalion tactical groups (BTGs) since Wednesday, providing an update on the number of Russian forces inside Ukraine.
“The Russians are also flowing in additional… capabilities, still doing their shaping, adding battalion tactical groups in the theater,” the official said.
Also, on Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced another $800 million in new military assistance for Ukraine.
The Pentagon released a statement saying the latest drawdown of military aid for Ukraine would include:
- 72 155mm Howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds
- 72 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers
- Over 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems
- Field equipment and spare parts