The Biden administration has agreed to contribute $800 million in fresh military aid to Ukraine to help defend itself against Russia. Included in the package is a highly advanced U.S. “killer” drone known as a Switchblade.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced the decision following a speech by Ukraine's embattled President Volodomyr Zelensky to the U.S. Congress where he made a pitch for additional military equipment as well as a no-fly zone. Biden, who has previously ruled out a no-fly zone, said that the package instead would include more anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles for the Ukrainian military as part of this "unprecedented" aid package. Included in the transfer will be advanced U.S. military drones, said Biden.

"This new package on its own will provide unprecedented assistance to Ukraine," the president wrote on Twitter. "And it will include drones, which demonstrates our commitment to sending our most cutting-edge systems to Ukraine for its defense."

Biden did not specify the type of drones that would be sent or the amount, but the ranking Republican congressman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee confirmed to Politico that it would include 100 Switchblades.

"We passed a bill to provide lethal weapons to [Zelensky] and the president has just signed it today to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Russian aggression,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said in a video statement on Twitter.

Unlike the typically larger armed drones used by the U.S. military like the MQ-9 Reaper, the Switchblade is a 5.5-pound “tactical” drone that is small enough to be carried in a backpack and launched by a small unit.

The Switchblade, which has undergone testing across the armed forces since 2012, is what is known as a “loitering munition.” Compared to a normal armed drone, a loitering munition can hover above a target for a certain amount of time before guiding itself into a target once one is identified by the operator.

According to Defense News, the latest model of the Switchblade, known as the Switchblade 600, can hover for up to 40 minutes at a range of about 25 miles and can travel into a target at about 115 mph.

Switchblades have been used by U.S. Special Forces against the Islamic State in Syria, but other models of loitering munitions have been used to devastating effect in the September 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This adds an additional degree of lethality to Ukraine’s military for use against Russia. Ukrainian forces have racked up scores of destroyed Russian armored vehicles and helicopters using U.S.-provided Stinger and Javelin missiles.

A decision to provide more guided missiles on top of Switchblades is bound to be castigated by Russia. Moscow has warned the U.S. and other Western countries against supplying Kyiv with arms or risk being seen as a target as becoming a party to the war.

MEET IBT NEWS FROM BELOW CHANNELS

© Copyright IBTimes 2022. All rights reserved.