AUSA: With a long border to protect from Russia and $116 million in non-lethal U.S. military aid burning a hole in their pockets, representatives of Ukraine’s defense industry conglomerate UkrObornProm –“The State Concern” — came to the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington with a shopping list. Industry sources said the Ukrainians seemed to like what they saw for sale in the way of drones, helicopters and armored vehicles at Textron Systems, a conglomerate that can offer a wide range of weapons systems.
The Ukrainians specifically talked to Textron about the company’s unarmed Aerosonde Mark 4.7 and Shadow M2 drones, the latter a less capable version of the RQ-7B Shadow flown by the U.S. Army. They also showed interest in Textron’s Commando wheeled armored vehicle, which can be fitted with a screen to receive video feeds from drones. Textron announced Monday that NATO member Bulgaria is buying 10 Commandos, included an armed variant and an ambulance variant, for use by Bulgarian troops assigned to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Beyond the drones and armored vehicles, industry sources said, the Ukrainians are interested in OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters the Army is offering foreign nations as surplus defense equipment. The Army decided this year to retire the venerable Kiowa Warriors, made by Textron subsidiary Bell Helicopter, and use Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to perform the scout mission as well.
During a visit to Washington last month, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked for lethal military aid to help his country resist the threat from Russia, but President Obama so far has limited U.S. aid to non-lethal items.