UK and Norway donate Black Hornet microdrones to Ukraine

Tiny aerial vehicles resemble helicopters and are used for reconnaissance, target identification and weapons-damage assessment

The Teledyne Flir Black Hornet microdrone has a range of about two kilometres: Teledyne Flir
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The UK and Norway are jointly to supply 850 Teledyne Flir Black Hornet microdrones to Ukraine for reconnaissance, target identification and weapons-damage assessment.

The cost of the 15-centimetre drones will be up to 90 million Norwegian crowns ($9.26m), the Norwegian Defence Ministry said in a statement, and they will form part of the new £54 million ($63.9m) package of aid to war-torn Ukraine announced by Boris Johnson in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Drones are an increasingly valuable commodity on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with Iran announcing in July it would furnish Moscow with hundreds.

The UK-Norway donation answers an appeal made by the Ukrainian government last month for its allies to supply it with thousands of multi-use and commercial unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Black Hornet drones were first used by British forces in Afghanistan and can fly at night for up to 25 minutes over a distance of about two kilometres at a top speed of about 18 kilometres an hour.

Resembling a helicopter, their rotors whir noiselessly and the three cameras capture their surroundings in high definition.

“Norway and the UK remain determined to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

“These cutting-edge drones will help give Ukraine’s troops a vital advantage on the battlefield as they fight to defend their country against Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion.”

His Norwegian equivalent enumerated the drones' capabilities and highlighted how their deployment marked a new chapter in the West's support for Ukraine.

“The donation entails a new direction for how western countries support their fight. Until now we and our allies have mostly donated from our own stocks,” said Norway's Minister of Defence Bjorn Arild Gram.

The donation was gratefully received by Ukraine, with its ministry of defence tweeting its gratitude to Mr Johnson.

While the UK government's support for Ukraine is unwavering, there is concern that the UK public has become somewhat inured to the war and now more preoccupied with the parlous state of its own country as it battles a cost-of-living crisis driven by soaring energy prices.

This fall in sympathy is evidenced by a quarter of the families who agreed to host Ukrainian refugees saying they will not be extending their patronage beyond the initial six months.

However, Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, is urging patience saying his country “cannot afford" to lose support.

Ukraine latest - in pictures

Updated: August 25, 2022, 10:19 AM
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