US drone companies offer Ukraine specialized UAVs against Russians; Washington to send Switchblades

Ukraine Russian drone

A pair of US drone companies is taking action to supply Ukraine forces with specialized UAVs to aid their defense against invading Russian troops, while the Biden administration has reportedly decided to provide Kyiv potent Switchblade aerial attack assets as part of an $800 million military assistance package.

The first UAV sector firm moving to assist Ukraine against Russian invaders is Connecticut-based Aquiline Drones (AD), which provides training, tech, hardware, and cloud services to enterprise clients. Working in partnership with home city Hartford’s Jewish community, AD founder and CEO Barry Alexander is initially donating 40 of the company’s Spartacus Hurricane drones for various first responder, emergency, and urgent supply transport use. 

RelatedCanada sending drone surveillance cameras to Ukraine 

AD is organizing the transfer of the aerial support gear in consultation with appropriate US government agencies. It is also asking other businesses and the general public to back the company and Hartford’s Jewish community as they launch and possibly expand the project. Interested parties can receive additional information by writing to humanitarian@aquilinedrones.com.

Alexander said the move to supply Ukraine’s officials with Spartacus Hurricane drones – which sell for $5,399 each – for use amid the Russian invasion came about during an educational talk on UAV activity at Hartford’s Jewish Day School.

“As our team was discussing and demonstrating the benefits of how drone technology is used in everyday life, the conversation started moving to the current crisis in Europe,” explains Alexander. “Drones have long been in demand by various departments responsible for civilians’ safety, so why not put their potential power directly into the hands of the Ukraine citizens?”

In a statement on the initiative, AD said the craft will principally be used for deliveries of emergency supplies, search and rescue, disaster management, and site assessment. The company also plans to send drone pilot instructors to the Ukrainian-Polish border to provide on-site training.

Related: Evidence arises of private drones flying to Ukraine’s defense against Russia 

Also planning to aid Ukraine defenses against Russian forces is Utah-based Teal Drones, maker of the high-performance reconnaissance Golden Eagle UAV.

The company was recently chosen to create a similar prototype in the final phase of the US Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance Tranche 2 drone bid (a separate post on that to come soon). Teal Drone CEO George Matus says the Golden Eagle’s capabilities and production capacities make it a ready-made recon asset for Ukraine’s struggle to blunt Russian advances.

“Teal is one of the only companies in the world that is able to provide that, at scale, now with its technology, manufacturing, and resources,” Matus, who founded the company in 2014 aged 16, told Utah’s Desert News. “And I have no doubt that the technology will help save a lot of lives.”

Matus says he has already been in contact with Ukrainian groups and officials in the US and European Union about providing the reconnaissance drone for use against Russian troops – which he notes do not carry potential tracking risks that using DJI craft purportedly do. 

Red Cat-owned Teal Drones says Golden Eagle tech includes a high-resolution 4K camera and forward-looking infrared thermographic sensor; Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile computing platform; obstacle avoidance system; full-blown data security; and an acoustic-masking makeup that make it nearly inaudible.

Related: Ukraine’s mid-size Punisher drone is living up to its name against Russian forces 

Reports Thursday, meanwhile, indicate the Biden administration is about to provide Ukraine officials heavier air power against Russian invaders by sending Kyiv Switchblade “suicide drones” as part of a larger $800 million military aid package. The single-use craft can be remotely piloted or flown autonomously to seek out and strike designated targets.

Far cheaper than alternatives like Hellfire rockets, AeroVironment’s Switchblade 300 is designed for focused attacks on military personnel, while the larger 600 model is used for destroying tanks and other armored vehicles. 

According to reports, the so-called loitering flying bomb is tube-launched and far easier to use than more complex US Army drone systems. That facility should permit Ukraine fighters to fire and guide them rather than relying on trained operators – thereby averting the risk of Russian accusations of US forces having actively entered the war.


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