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As Ukraine Makes Gains on the Battlefield, Ernst, Manchin Urge Pentagon to Transfer Armed Drones to Ukraine

The senators are leading 14 of their colleagues in pushing the Biden administration to send MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.

WASHINGTON – As Ukraine makes significant gains in its fight against Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are leading 14 of their colleagues in urging Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to provide Ukrainian forces with MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones

The Pentagon has considered transferring armed Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to Ukraine for months, without a final decision, prompting the senators’ letter to Secretary Austin.

In the letter, the senators write: “The American people and their representatives in Congress have strongly supported arming Ukraine to defend its homeland against Russian tyranny. Toward this end, Congress provided the Pentagon with appropriations and drawdown authority to provide Ukraine the necessary firepower. Ukrainian successes on the battlefield are encouraging, but Vladimir Putin's intent to conquer all of Ukraine remains unchanged. The timely provision of effective lethal aid to stabilize Ukrainian defenses and enable long-term resistance against future Russian aggression remains urgent.”

The senators continue: “This particular UAS will increase Ukraine's unmanned capabilities in the near-term and demands careful reconsideration. This system's operational attributes—availability, lethality, survivability, and exportability—complement existing weapon systems used by the Ukrainians and will increase the lethality of the Ukrainian military….The long-term upside of providing Ukraine with the MQ-1C is significant and has the potential to drive the strategic course of the war in Ukraine's favor.”

Ernst and Manchin are joined by their colleagues Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins, (R-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Read the full letter here.