For nearly a year, the full might of the Russian military has battered -- but not beaten -- Ukrainian forces fighting for their very existence.
The world has reacted in almost unanimous support for the Ukrainian cause, but those efforts have overlooked one of the most obvious and force-multiplying technologies of modern warfare: Long-range and enduring, stand-off sensing, unmanned aircraft systems.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is dedicated to providing information dominance to its partners. 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. Both systems have been used to devasting effect in combat by U.S. and partner nations for more than two decades and remain the gold standard for high-quality, medium-altitude UAS in the world.
We have delivered more than 1,000 aircraft over 30 years and flown nearly 8 million flight hours, most of them in hostile areas around the world. This is all we do. We know that introducing these systems to the battlefield will provide an immediate impact.
We have offered to train Ukrainian operators on these systems at no cost to U.S. 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 U.S. federal government, and with many international partners.
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.
Many of the additional costs associated with readying these 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, are outside of our control. Our estimates for launch and ongoing operations do not include one penny of profit to our company.
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 U.S. government. Our goal is now, and has always been, to help the Ukrainian armed forces defend and protect their homes and families, and help bring a rapid closure to this conflict before more lives are lost.
There are limits to what an American defense company can do to support a situation such as this. From our perspective, it is long past time to enable Ukrainian forces with the information dominance required to win this war.
Chief Executive Officer
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.