General Atomics goes public with Reaper offer to Ukraine
February 2, 2023
Photo: Australia Defence Magazine
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) has said it is willing to supply MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1C Gray Eagles to Ukraine – including two training aircraft and associated systems for the symbolic price of $1 – but has been unable to secure approval from the US government.
In an unusually frank public release, GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said the company has offered to train Ukrainian soldiers on the systems at no cost and has discussed the offer ‘endlessly at every level of the US federal government’.
“From the outset of the Russian invasion, we began looking for options to respond to the requests of Ukrainian forces with our products, including the MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Gray Eagle,” Blue said. “Both systems have been used to devasting effect in combat by the US and partner nations for more than two decades and remain the gold standard for high-quality, medium-altitude UAS in the world.
“We have offered to train Ukrainian operators on these systems at no cost to US taxpayers or the Ukrainian government. We have offered flexible options and recommendations for delivery. We have discussed the situation endlessly at every level of the US federal government, and with many international partners.”
Blue also disclosed that GA-ASI had recently added two training aircraft and associated systems to its offer, as well as reiterating the company’s willingness to finance training for Ukrainian troops.
“Recently, we offered to transfer two of our own, company-owned training aircraft, plus the ground control station and other hardware required to operate them, for the symbolic price of $1, and reiterated our offer to train the first cadre of pilots and maintainers at our expense,” Blue said.
“Factoring in hardware and training that is essentially free, the offer is a remarkable deal with no strings attached. All that is required is approval from the US government.”
In the statement, Blue acknowledged that there are many other associated costs with supplying Reapers and Gray Eagles to Ukraine – “readying the aircraft for combat, outfitting them with the necessary equipment, transporting them to Ukraine, setting up operations in that country, obtaining satellite bandwidth and providing additional supporting labor” – but said these costs were outside his company’s control and the offer does not include ‘one penny’ of profit for GA-ASI.
“There are limits to what an American defence company can do to support a situation such as this,” Blue said. “From our perspective, it is long past time to enable Ukrainian forces with the information dominance required to win this war.”
The offer comes as Ukraine shifts its procurement efforts towards Western fighter jets, having secured dozens of Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks from European countries and the US to support a possible counteroffensive against Russian forces in the east.
Western governments have so far sent hesitant signals on supplying fighter jets, citing concerns over conflict escalation, the complexity of the platforms and the logistics required to support their operation in Ukraine: all arguments once made about supplying tanks to Kyiv, which requires an advanced Western combined arms system to offset Russia’s numerical advantages in troops and equipment.