“This discredits the Pentagon.” Why do the Americans not supply the MQ-1C Gray Eagle aircraft to the Armed Forces?

The Pentagon fears that the MQ-1C Gray Eagle may fall into the hands of Russian experts, resulting in the loss of critical technologies. “Defence officials are seriously afraid that the Russians will copy all or components of this UAV if they manage to shoot down and capture this drone,” Defense News said, citing a source from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle Heavy Attack UAV is an upgraded version of the MQ-1B Predator developed by General Atomics. “Grey Eagle” is equipped with a diesel engine and can stay in the air for up to 30 hours.

The device can be armed with AGM-114 Hellfire semi-active laser or active radar-guided missiles, four GBU-44/B Viper Strike laser-guided precision bombs for hitting ground targets, or eight anti-aircraft guided missiles AIM-92 Stinger. (“Sting”) to fend off air threats.

So far, negotiations on the possible delivery of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle to Ukraine have not led to any concrete results.

On the one hand, the American side, quite rightly fearing the loss of critical technologies, may eventually refuse to transfer such weapons.

On the other hand, if such a device falls into the hands of Russian experts, it cannot be copied and released in a series at once. For example, in a short time it is unlikely to create a copy of the single in-line four-cylinder diesel unit Thielert Centurion, equipped with Gray Eagle. To do this, it is necessary to restructure almost the entire engine-building industry of the country.

This fully applies to the MQ-1C Gray Eagle avionics equipment – the AN / ZPY-1 STARIite radar and the AN / AAS-53 optoelectronic system.

Of course, if such a device were in the hands of the Russian defense industry, it would enable us to understand and examine in detail many engineering and technical solutions used in this device. But the Pentagon fears no less, and perhaps more, that the hypothetical combat use of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone in Ukraine could lead to discrediting of such weapons and the Pentagon. They only successfully bomb the vulnerable.

The fact is that the UAVs of this class showed their best side when conducting combat operations not only with irregular formations armed with anti-aircraft missile systems and complexes, as well as with combat aircraft. So it was in Afghanistan, Libya, Iran.

In the best case, insurgents, militants and partisans can counter heavy attack UAVs in these battles with small-caliber anti-aircraft guns. Moving from a height of eight thousand meters or more, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle and MQ-1B Predator were absolutely inaccessible to any weapon at the disposal of such detachments. In general, this explains the high effectiveness of combat use of shock UAVs.

However, if the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV were in the airspace, where multi-functional fighters and modern anti-aircraft missile systems were operating, the picture of armed combat would look completely different.

In fact, the Gray Eagle is a low-speed (250 km / h) and low-maneuverable aircraft with a wingspan of 17 m. With its reflective surface, this UAV, even with the greatest imagination, cannot be considered a difficult target for fighters. and anti-aircraft missile systems.

If the MQ-1C Gray Eagle is in the kill zone of the Buk-M3/3 or S-300/400 air defense systems, it will be destroyed by the first missile in line. For pilots of aircraft such as the Su-30SM and Su-35, the destruction of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle will often be a kind of first exercise in a combat training course, subject to the delivery of accurate target designation.

The author’s view may not coincide with the editors’ position.

Author biography:

Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok is a military observer of socialbites.ca, a retired colonel.

Graduated from the Minsk Higher Engineering Anti-aircraft Missile School (1976),
Air Defense Military Command Academy (1986).
Commander of the S-75 anti-aircraft missile battalion (1980–1983).
Deputy commander of an anti-aircraft missile regiment (1986-1988).
Senior officer of the Air Defense Forces Chief of Staff (1988-1992).
Officer of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff (1992-2000).
Graduate of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (1998).
Columnist for Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2000–2003), editor-in-chief of the Military Industrial Courier newspaper (2010–2015).

The US refuses to supply Ukraine with MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs. In the American media, a version is expressed that the Pentagon fears that the technology of these drones will fall into the hands of Moscow. What the Americans are really afraid of – in the author’s material about the military observer of GazetaRu Mikhail Khodarenko.

Source: Gazeta


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