The Switchblade drone is small enough to be carried in a backpack and can be launched from a variety of platforms and surfaces. Manufactured by AeroVironment Inc, there are two types of Switchblade drones: the Switchblade 300 and the 600.
The Switchblade 300 is meant to hit smaller targets, while the 600 is designed to strike tanks and big armored vehicles. The 300 is less than 2-feet long.
It was first unveiled in August 2011 to fill a gap U.S. troops were facing during the insurgency in Afghanistan.
So Is This A Drone Or Missile?
Army regulations categorize the Switchblade as “loitering munition” rather than a drone. Unlike UAVs, it cannot be recovered once launched. Its operation is similar to that of the wireless TOW missile, through a fly-by-radio frequency signal, the only difference being the TOW doesn’t loiter, but both have the same operator-in-the-loop characteristics.
The Switchblade is used alongside an existing counter-artillery radar and IED jamming system. It can also be used to intercept and even destroy enemy drones and UAVs. Jammers can perform electronic warfare to break an enemy drone’s data-link; if the drone resists Electronic Warfare, the Switchblade can be launched to physically impact and destroy it.
Switchblades then can fly around the target for over 15 minutes until the fire control mechanism determines if it’s appropriate to strike. Once the target is engaged the heavier Switchblade 600 drone can be flown down at 115 miles per hour to pierce a tank’s armor.
It is a single-use weapon.
Every Switchblade drone comes equipped with a camera, guidance systems and explosives and are very hard to detect using most air systems because of their size.
Joe Biden may send American-made Switchblade drones that have the potential to blow up tanks in a bid to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
President Biden announced on Wednesday that the U.S. will send 100 Switchblade drones to Ukraine as part of the Biden administration’s new $800 million weapons package.
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