The new military aid package for Ukraine, announced by the US Department of Defense, in addition to four more HIMARS systems and high-precision missiles for them, shells for howitzers and much more, will include 580 (!) tactical drones Phoenix Ghost, about which little is still known. But at the same time, the American military highly appreciates their effectiveness and the way Ukrainian soldiers use these weapons.
“The Ukrainians have been making excellent use of the Phoenix Ghost system”, said a high-ranking official of the US Ministry of Defense, “What we’ll be able to do is ensure steady deliveries of this capability starting in August to ensure that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have a continual supply of this capability”.
Oleksii Arestovych, the external adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andrii Yermak, unexpectedly shed some light on what the Phoenix Ghost UAV is, reports Defense Express.
According to Arestovych: “[Phoenix Ghost] is a good “device”, fits into a backpack, hangs in the air for six hours. It has infrared guidance, that is, it can operate at night and destroy medium-armored targets. Not even light, but medium armored. 580 such units equal approximately 350 destroyed targets in the [enemy’s] close rear.”
This is a very interesting statement, because having a warhead capable of destroying medium-armored targets, that is, at least like in Switchblade 600, and the size of the Switchblade 300 (“fits into a backpack”), such a drone will not be able to spend up to 6 hours in the air. It could stay in the air for 40-60 minutes, like the Switchblade 600 or the Polish kamikaze drone Warmate. But here it should be noted that the Switchblade 600 launcher weighs as much as 22 kg, the control system weighs another 32 kg, and the drone itself another 15 kg. You can’t carry all this far in a backpack.
As for drones that can really hang in the air for 6 hours, these are quite large systems with a wingspan of 3 meters or more. For example, the Israeli IAI Harop is a weapon of a completely different class: warhead 23 kg, length 2.5 m, wingspan 3 m, endurance 9 hours, communication radius – 200 km. You can’t even load such a machine on every truck. The slightly smaller IAI Harpy, which is in the air for only 2 hours, weighs 132 kg and has a wingspan of 2.1 m.
That is, Arestovych is presenting desirable as a fact, either regarding the size of the Phoenix Ghost, or regarding the ability to destroy medium-armored targets, or regarding the duration of the barrage. Or we should assume that AEVEX Aerospace has created a truly incredible weapon that violates the basic laws of physics. The first seems more likely than the second.
In any case, the 580 Phoenix Ghost will definitely be useful at the front. So, thank you, Uncle Sam!