Editor’s note: The manufacturer of the Black Hornet, Teledyne FLIR, contacted Defense News after this story was published with information clarifying the size of the micro-drone.
LONDON — Britain is to supply a further package of weapons to Ukraine, including target-spotting micro-drones, outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced during a surprise visit to Kyiv.
Ukraine’s Independence Day on Aug. 24 saw Johnson reveal the planned delivery of unmanned surveillance systems, anti-tank loitering missiles and other equipment, adding to a long list of weapons contributed by the British government since Russia invaded its neighbor six months ago.
Johnson made the announcement on his third visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began Feb. 24. Johnson, who was forced from office in July, is effectively a caretaker prime minister while the ruling Conservative Party prepares to elect a new leader in early September.
This £54 million (U.S. $64 million) package of weapons may be small compared with the latest announcement by U.S. President Joe Biden of new contributions worth roughly $3 billion, but it still makes Britain a leading donor.
London’s latest commitment brings the amount given in military and financial aid to more than £2.3 billion since the war began in February.
The British announcement was light on details of what exactly is being donated, beyond saying 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, primarily used in urban warfare, are included in the package.
The Norwegian Defence Ministry, which partnered with Britain on the Black Hornet deal, said Oslo contributed upward of $9 million to the transaction. According to a ministry statement, Norway’s contributions to the British-led fund in support of Ukraine total roughly $41 million.
The micro-drones, made in Norway by American firm Teledyne FLIR, were originally developed by Norwegian company Prox Dynamics, now part of the U.S.-based sensor specialist. The company advertises the drone, which resembles a thin helicopter that can fit in the palm of a hand, for its stealthy operations as it scouts for nearby threats.
A British government statement said the Ukraine package includes a total of 2,000 drones and loitering munitions. “This package of unmanned air systems will be a step up in the Ukrainian’s current capability, improving their long range surveillance and defensive targeting ability,” the government said.
Johnson urged European nations to “stay the course” despite rising living costs across the region. He said that while European energy bills were high, “the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood.”
Today’s military aid package comes as the U.K. also prepares to give mine-hunting systems to Ukraine to help detect Russian mines in the waters off its coast.
Ukrainian personnel will receive training on the mine-hunting equipment in British waters in the coming weeks.
The long list of weapons supplied by the U.K. also includes M270 multiple launch rocket systems, Brimstone anti-tank missiles, StarStreak anti-air missiles, unmanned logistics drones, artillery rounds, Javelin anti-tank missiles, counter-battery radar systems and GPS-jamming equipment.
The British are also hosting thousands of Ukrainian recruits for training over the next few weeks supported by expertise and trainers from eight other countries including New Zealand, Norway, Denmark and Canada.
Sebastian Sprenger in Washington contributed to this report.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.