The dangerous, restricted unmanned fighter planes would be a major step up in the arms the U.S. is giving to Ukraine.

By Sara Sirota, The Intercept

After failing to convince the Biden administration to ship NATO fighter jets to Ukraine, the military-industrial complex is now trying to coax the White House into sending what are, essentially, unmanned fighter jets to counter Russia’s invasion. Kyiv reportedly met with the major defense contractor General Atomics about obtaining the “Hunter-Killer” MQ-9 Reaper drone, armed with Hellfire missiles, which the U.S. has infamously used in botched airstrikes that killed and maimed civilians in Afghanistan, Somalia, and other countries around the world. The company and Kyiv’s allies in Washington are appealing to policymakers to greenlight the export, despite the high risk of escalation that could turn the devastating war nuclear.


Take retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of the influential and General Atomics-funded Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, who penned an op-ed in Forbes advocating for the U.S. to give Ukraine Reapers in March, before Kyiv’s interest was publicly known. He blasted skeptics who voiced concern about offering Poland’s MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, saying they’re “being cowed by Putin,” the Russian president.

In a phone call with The Intercept, Deptula reiterated his hawkish stance, arguing concern about conflict escalation “is being fed by the Russians through a very sophisticated information operations campaign to deter U.S. and NATO actions to assist the Ukrainians. Anything’s fair up to, but not including, the use of NATO forces in the conduct of hostile operations against the Russians.”

“Approve this, US Govt.,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted last month when the Washington Post reported that Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. met with General Atomics. Notorious for calling on the U.S. to enforce a dangerous no-fly zone over Ukraine, Kinzinger, along with Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Penn., also asked the Defense Department to report on how long it would take to train a Ukrainian pilot to fly the MQ-9. This week, senior fellows from the General Atomics-funded Hudson Institute wrote an op-ed in The Dispatch endorsing sending Ukraine Reapers as well. And General Atomics sends lobbyists to Washington specifically to influence the strict export policy that the U.S. has enforced to limit the global proliferation of such dangerous drones.

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