Large Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Transfer to Ukraine: Issues for Congress

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Authors: Patrick Parrish and Nathan J. Lucas
Page Range: 341-344
Published in: Current Politics and Economics of Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, 38#4
ISSN: 1057-2295

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

In mid-2022, Ukraine reportedly requested that the Biden Administration transfer to Ukraine large advanced Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Ukraine argues that access to these weapon systems would improve its air operations against Russian ground forces. In addition, the U.S. Air Force reportedly proposed the transfer of MQ-9 Reaper UAS to Ukraine in spring 2022. Some Members of Congress have expressed support for sending large UAS to Ukraine. For example, on September 21, 2022, a bipartisan group of 17 Members of the House of Representatives wrote to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressing support for the transfer of UAS like the MQ-1C Gray Eagle or the MQ-9A Reaper. Similarly, on November 22, 2022, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators also wrote to Secretary Austin expressing support for transfer of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. Congress authorized the transfer of armed UAS to Ukraine (through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative) in the FY2023 James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 117-263, §1241(b). The Administration has reportedly expressed concern that Russia could capture and exploit some sensitive electronic components on these aircraft, such as electro- optical/infrared cameras. This Insight addresses potential issues Congress may consider if the Administration proposes a potential transfer of large UAS to Ukraine as the situation in the zone of conflict changes.

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