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Video Above: Would a "No-Fly" Zone Create Massive World War III with Russia?

Following a televised speech to the Nation, President Biden signed a new $800 million aid package for Ukraine, a new collection of weapons, supplies and humanitarian aid which includes Drones.

Drones

The mention of drones seems quite significant as that is not something which has been cited or emphasized much before by Pentagon and US national security leaders.

However it seems extremely critical given the technological sophistication of modern US drones in terms of an ability to track Russian ground movements and network time-sensitive data to Ukrainian defenders on the ground.

Following the President's announcement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement announcing the new development in the context of the overall US support for Ukraine.

Lloyd Austin Ukraine

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Defence Minister Andriy Taran walk past honor guards during a welcoming ceremony before their meeting in Kiev on October 19, 2021.

“Through the additional authority provided in the FY 2022 Ukraine supplemental signed into law by the president yesterday, the U.S. Department of Defense is moving expeditiously on the fifth Presidential Drawdown of security assistance. Today’s drawdown, valued at up to $800 million, brings to more than $2 billion the total U.S. security assistance commitment since the beginning of the Administration,” Austin said in a Pentagon statement.

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The overall aid package will include thousands of pieces of ammunition, weapon systems and shoulder-fired air defense interceptors as well as “drones.”

Drones can help the effort in a substantial way by shortening the time curve through which Ukrainians get crucial intelligence regarding Russian troop movements. For instance, maneuvering forces dispersed in defensive positions throughout urban areas such as Kyiv would likely benefit greatly from close to real time intelligence data regarding Russian maneuvering as attacking forces try to close in on Kyiv.

U.S. Air Force Global Hawk

U.S. Air Force Global Hawk

There are a number of effective operational systems which could potentially be of great value to Ukrainian forces on the ground, such as medium altitude Global Hawks, high altitude U2s or even ground-unit integrated hand-launched drones well suited for close-in urban warfare such as the Raven. Certainly some of the smaller drones organically attached to ground units might have success operating beneath the radar envelope of Russian air defenses and provide critical tactical detail for Ukrainian defenders hoping to ambush Russian troops.

Of course there is the question of advanced Russian air defenses, yet there are increasingly high-fidelity, ultra-long-range sensors capable of detecting ground maneuvers, heat signatures or other indicators of enemy activity. Drone operators are also adjusting tactics to ensure surveillance assets don’t follow predictable paths and navigate trajectories less vulnerable to air defense radar and interceptor missiles. There are also likely medium and high altitude drones designed to avert detection as well as smaller drones able to operate beneath the radar aperture of air defenses.

It is also possible that ground-based command and control technology could be given to Ukrainians in support of aerial drone assets able to expand and strengthen data networks. Given the pace at which combat dynamics can shift, the faster crucial information can reach fighters on the ground, the more likely they are to achieve success against invading Russian forces.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven - the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President, Center for Military Modernization