New aid package to Ukraine includes dozens of howitzers and USAF-developed drone

By Tony Bertuca / April 21, 2022 at 11:19 AM

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a clarification made at a Pentagon press conference.)

President Biden and the Pentagon have announced the latest $800 million aid package to Ukraine will include dozens of howitzers and more than 120 new unmanned aerial systems rapidly developed by the Air Force.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby released a statement saying the aid package includes 72 howitzers with more than 140,000 rounds of ammunition, 72 tactical vehicles to tow the 155mm howitzers, and more than 120 Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aerial systems.

Kirby, in a phone call with reporters today, said the Phoenix Ghost, manufactured by Solana Beach, CA-based Aevex Aerospace, was rapidly developed by the Air Force to have capabilities similar to the Switchblade UAS, which acts as a loitering munition.

Though Kirby said during the call the UAS was "rapidly developed by the Air Force in response specifically to Ukrainian requirements,” he later clarified at a press conference that the UAS had already been in development prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

“I don’t have an exact start date,” he said. “We see the benefit for Ukraine to use it, so we’re going to provide some of them.”

Kirby also said the Phoenix Ghost is currently in the Air Force's arsenal. He declined to provide additional information about the system, other than to say, "its principal focus is attack."

“It was developed for a set of requirements that very closely match what the Ukrainians need right now in Donbas," Kirby said, referring the region in Eastern Ukraine where Russian forces have increased their attacks.

The Pentagon noted that the United States has now committed more than $4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including approximately $3.4 billion since the beginning of the Russian invasion.