Remember this prediction – loitering munitions will be incredibly important in future armed conflicts. The new American kamikaze drone Phoenix Ghost is a good example of what the future might bring. It is a similar drone to the Switchblade but can stay in the air for longer waiting for its targets. And now Ukraine is looking forward to using the in battles against the invading Russian forces.
Ukrainian military expert and reserve colonel Oleg Zhdanov explained that Phoenix Ghost is actually a new generation AeroVironment Switchblade kamikaze drone. Sure, the manufacturer is different – Switchblade is produced by Virginia’s AeroVironment, while the Phoenix Ghost is made by California’s Aevex Aerospace. However, these drones are sort of the same idea, just that the new one will be able to stay airborne for longer.
According to Oleg Zhdanov, the Phoenix Ghost has a range of up to 40 kilometers and its operating time can be as much as 6 hours. That’s how long the drone can circle the area waiting for the target. “If they come to us, it will be very good. 1,100 drones if I’m not mistaken. It is guaranteed that it will be possible to hit 1,100 enemy targets,” Oleg Zhdanov emphasized the accuracy of this system.
And the Phoenix Ghost is coming to Ukraine. On November 4, the United States announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine, which, apparently, includes 1,100 Phoenix Ghost drones. The US representatives noted that at least several of these drones have already been delivered to Ukraine. The first batch of 120 systems were delivered in early May. Even though being a kamikaze drone the Phoenix Ghost is a one-use weapon, that’s a significant flock of loitering munitions that can deliver a series of strikes on Russian forces and equipment in Ukraine.
It was previously reported that Aevex Aerospace developed the Phoenix Ghost specifically for the needs of the Armed forces of Ukraine. It is unclear whether this is true, as it was claimed back in April that the Phoenix Ghost was created before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Regardless, this system definitely suits Ukrainian needs.
The operator can control the Phoenix Ghost via a radio system or pre-program it to fly specified coordinates. According to some sources, the Phoenix Ghost is most effective against medium-level armor, but fragmentation charges would also be very effective against groups of troops. The Phoenix Ghost can be armed with cumulative or fragmentation charges, but it can also perform reconnaissance tasks. It is launched vertically using the same kind of pneumatic cannon system.
It was also reported that the US has decided to transfer 10 more Switchblade 600 drones to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This is a much heavier version of the Switchblade 300 with a Javelin-type warhead, capable of penetrating armor, including tanks.
The Phoenix Ghost can wait for its targets for a long time, which means that it will create an aura of uncertainty and fear in currently occupied Ukrainian lands. Hopefully, they will inflict damage as well. One thing is certain – all kinds of small drones will shape the future of combat.