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U.S. is letting Ukraine field-test mysterious new Phoenix Ghost drones

Ukraine has been making brutally effective use of drones against Russian invading forces, especially Turkish-made Bayraktar drones and, more recently, smaller and more portable Switchblade "kamikaze" drones. A senior Pentagon official said Monday that the U.S. has delivered to Ukraine a "small proportion" of a promised batch of 121 new Phoenix Ghost drones and just finished training 20 Ukrainian soldiers on how to use the mysterious new aerial weapons.

"The Phoenix Ghost has remained a bit shrouded in mystery," Task and Purpose notes."We don't know much about its capabilities — how it can be launched, its range, or its payload." But the Pentagon has provided some clues, and the senior defense official added some new details Monday. 

"The Phoenix Ghost was in development by the Air Force before the war in Ukraine, and as we began to look across the department at programs that were in various stages of development, we realized that some of the very things that we were developing the Phoenix Ghost to do would be very useful to the Ukrainians," the Pentagon official said. "As we looked at the capabilities of it, it was clear that it could be useful to them in the kind of fighting that they're doing in the Donbas." And yes, "it can be used for anti-armor capabilities," the official said.

A Pentagon official previously said the Phoenix Ghost drones "provide the same sort of tactical capability that a Switchblade does," meaning they are lightweight and portable, and "can be described as a loitering munition, both a 'flying scout and an armed weapon,'" Task and Purpose explains. CNN's Tom Foreman ran down some of what we know about the Phoenix Ghost drones Monday night.