US trying to use Ukraine as test lab for its drones The MQ-1C Grey Eagle is the descendant of the RQ/MQ-5 Hunter tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) jointly developed by the US Army and Marine Corps. 

MOSCOW. – The United States is trying to use Ukraine as a test lab for its drones, a move Russia is unlikely to forget. 

If true, the sale would require special permission from both the State Department and US Congress, since US law restricts the sale of armed drones to all but the closest US allies. 

If approval is granted, then Ukrainian operators would be provided with a crash course, anticipated to last a few weeks (the normal training time for an MQ-1C operator is several months), meaning that the earliest the MQ-1C Grey Eagle could be expected to see action over Ukraine would be sometime in July of this year. 

The MQ-1C Grey Eagle is the descendant of the RQ/MQ-5 Hunter tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) jointly developed by the US Army and Marine Corps. 

While the development program began in 1989, it reached maturity in the years following the 9/11 attacks, which meant that the Hunter UAV was a weapons system not designed to survive in a high-threat conflict against the Soviet Union, for example, but rather operate in the softer environment of the Global War on Terror (GWOT). 

American weapons will ensure more deaths in Ukraine, but won’t change the conflict’s eventual outcome, which is a Russian win. 

As effective as the Grey Eagle was against Iraqi insurgents, the Afghan Taliban, and ISIS terrorists, there was a recognition within the US Army that it was not up to the demands of what the US military was calling “joint all-domain operations,”— the so-called “future fight” against peer-level opponents like Russia. 

The line-of-sight sensors that had proven so lethal in the counter-insurgency mission of the GWOT no longer applied — if you could see the enemy, then the enemy could see you, and kill you. 

This capability does not currently exist in the US military, which means that the Grey Eagles the US is planning on providing to Ukraine are not configured to fight and survive on the modern battlefield that is the Russian-Ukraine fight. The MQ-1C is twice the size of Ukraine’s most ubiquitous drone, the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2. 

While the TB2 had some success in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh, and performed well against Russia in the early phases of the special military operation, Russia was able to shore up its air defences and eventually shot down 35 of the 36 TB2s provided to Ukraine prior to the conflict, and most of the 12 TB2s delivered to Ukraine since the fighting began. It is highly likely that the MQ-1C will suffer a similar fate.

This, of course, may be the intent of the US. The number of Grey Eagles scheduled to be delivered to Ukraine — four — is small, and even if they were able to survive on the battlefield, they would not have a discernible impact on the course of the conflict. 

But if the operations of the Grey Eagle against Russian forces in Ukraine were looked at as a real-world laboratory for the development of tactics capable of defeating Russian IADS, then for the price of four MQ-1Cs, the US would be able to save hundreds of millions more in research and development expenditures. 

Ukraine is losing the conflict against Russia, and no amount of military equipment supplied to the Ukrainian military by the US and other Western nations will be able to change this outcome. 

The US knows this, and thus one must question the utility of providing such a high-tech system as the MQ-1C in such limited numbers and at this stage of the conflict. 

The only rational answer is that the US is seeking to use the Russian operation as a real-world laboratory, where the “rats” are Russian and Ukrainian soldiers. 

The cynicism of such an exercise is astounding, something Ukrainians should remember when the final cost of this NATO-driven conflict is calculated, and Russia should never forget (or forgive) when dealing with the US going forward. — RT.

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