What is the Phoenix Ghost Drone that is set to be used in Ukraine?

The Phoenix Ghost is a type of loitering munition, meaning it remains airborne for an extended period of time before acquiring a target.

AeroVironment Switchblade 300s being launched (photo credit: US ARMY AMRDEC PUBLIC AFFAIRS/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
AeroVironment Switchblade 300s being launched
(photo credit: US ARMY AMRDEC PUBLIC AFFAIRS/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The United States is sending over 500 Phoenix Ghost drones to Ukraine as part of its $270 million package that the US Department of Defense announced on Friday.

The website Defense Express cited statements made by the adviser to the Ukrainian President’s office, Oleksii Arestovysch, who described the Phoenix Ghost drone as “a good widget.”

The drone fits inside a backpack and can hang in the air for six hours. It has infrared guidance, meaning that it can operate at night and destroy medium-armored targets.

“Five-hundred-and-eighty of such units equals about 350 destroyed targets in the close rear,” he said.

According to Defense News, the Phoenix Ghost, which was developed by the US specifically for use in Ukraine, functions in a manner similar to the AeroVironment Switchblade.

Like the Switchblade, the Phoenix Ghost drone is a type of loitering munition, meaning it remains airborne for an extended period before acquiring a target.

A lethal miniature aerial missile system is prepared for launch during an exercise with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Sept. 2, 2020. (credit: US MARINE CORPS/LANCE CPL. TYLER FORTI/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)A lethal miniature aerial missile system is prepared for launch during an exercise with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Sept. 2, 2020. (credit: US MARINE CORPS/LANCE CPL. TYLER FORTI/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The Phoenix Ghost's capabilities

"The Presidential Drawdown is the sixteenth such drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine that the Biden Administration has authorized since August 2021."

US Department of Defense statement

“The Presidential Drawdown is the 16th such drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine that the Biden Administration has authorized since August 2021,” the Defense Department said in a statement on Friday.

Developed by Aevex Aerospace in California, the Phoenix Ghost is effective against medium-armored vehicles, Politico cited retired Aevex board member Lt. Gen. David Deptula as saying.

The Phoenix Ghost has vertical takeoff capabilities, can track a target for up to six hours and can operate at night using infrared sensors, Deptula told Politico.

While the Switchblade can only fly for less than an hour, the Phoenix Ghost can loiter for much longer.