AeroVironment switchblade is a miniature High Precision strike tactical mission system known as the Kamikaze or suicide drone.
The one-of-a-kind unmanned aerial vehicle comes in two variants the switchblade 300 and the switchblade 600. one targets the troops, while the other focuses on armored vehicles.
Still, both feature intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, Capabilities GPS tracking, Target acquisition, and speeds of over 70 miles per hour.
Moreover, they can be used to board ground Vehicles, surface ships, submarines, and the old trustee Infantry. in a telling glimpse of what the future holds for Modern Warfare, an Army soldier or a marine can now carry a tube launch drone and set it up in less than two minutes to destroy an enemy emplacement.
Close air support
The dawn of the 20th century immersed the United States military in a conflict that lasted for over two decades. From the beginning of the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was clear that the U.S. Crown troops would fight a similar War to that of Vietnam.
This time, however, the Army and Marines would miss out on the large-scale offensives of the North Vietnamese. Instead draining themselves with intense close-quarters combat while doing house-to-house clearing and other harsh realities of urban Warfare.
In fact, the gruesome battles of Falluja of 2004 would become synonymous with the fierce Urban combat Encounters of the battle of hue City in Vietnam in 1968.
Such combat became the standard for engaging the enemy civilians who often cooperated With the Enemy sometimes because they were forced to and sometimes because of local feuds between tribes.
During ambushes on towns, small villages, or the countryside where they were outnumbered, the U.S. infantry often needed to call in close air support. Still, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters usually took a while to arrive.
Furthermore, there was always the risk of collateral damage that could lead to civilian or friendly casualties, and to top it off, it proved costly.
Something that the Department of Defense became aware of. Still, there was a crucial asset that the soldiers and Marines used to survive Urban combat UAVs like the Puma or Raven.
These drones came in handy to locate and Approach the enemy, but they still needed weapons to face them. For a while, the Infantry was able to get out of Harm’s Way by employing the heavy and cumbersome FGM-148 Javelin and other explosive devices to get rid of enemy infantry and vehicles. But something else was needed.
Taking into account, the combat Experience of veterans from the wars in the Middle East, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command requested a rapid Fielding platform that the Infantry could use to attack hostile forces nearby.
The platform was meant to be used during the frequent ambushes in Afghanistan .in July 2011; the Army awarded a 4.9 million contract to Aero environment to Create a human portable UAV that could be launched against an objective and detonated with a small explosive.
By March 2012, the contract had been increased to 10 million dollars to accelerate its development. The result was a small loitering unmanned aerial vehicle that was small enough to fit into a Marines or soldiers’ Alice or mole pack.
The device was baptized as the AeroVironment switched blade, a name that came from how its spring-loaded wings were folded up inside its tube and flipped out when released.
The Switchblade was designed to be an Expendable UAV that would increase the Firepower of platoons. Our environment describes it as “the ideal loitering missile for use against Beyond line of sight targets.”
Backpackable and rapidly Deployable from air, sea, or ground platforms, the switchblade 300 delivers increased Warfighter lethality With real-time GPS coordinates and video for precise targeting with low collateral effects.
The so-called suicide drone excels at engaging targets from mobile or fixed positions, making it suitable for base security. It can be operated manually or autonomously and has a range of 10 kilometers, a flight endurance of 15 minutes, and a cruise speed of 63 miles per hour. It also has a dash speed of about 100 miles per hour when engaging the enemy.
The backpackable tactical missile system
Other than its one-man operation, the Switchblade can be set up and launched in less than two minutes. It features real-time video and cursor on target GPS coordinates or Target acquisition and object recognition.
Meanwhile, a rugged laptop known as the fire control unit lets the operator Gather data instantly and launch the Drone toward its Target.
In addition, the Switchblade 300 can be upgraded with the sensor to Shooter or S2s kit. which allows the use of the Falcon View on the laptop. With this upgrade, the S2s can transfer information to other drones, such as the Puma wasp or Raven, for improved accuracy.
The Switchblade weighs 5.5 pounds, including its launcher payload and Transport bag; this feature allows the operator to strike fast and with minimal collateral damage.
Besides its main tube launch function, the Switchblade can also be rolled out from AeroVironment’s multipack launcher or MPL. An all-weather remotely operated autonomous battery with a six-round capacity.
The MPL can be used to board ground Vehicles, ships, and standard infantry Ground operations. It is equipped with a 100-inch long remote control cable that allows for a flexible application on ship command centers, tactical Vehicles, bunkers, and buildings.
With an easy-to-use launch controller, the launcher is 36 inches deep, 30 inches wide, and 36 inches tall. It weighs 130 pounds when empty, 160 pounds fully loaded and has two power choices solar power with an internal battery and short, tactical vehicle power.
Notably, the Switchblade can be launched every 30 seconds with the multipack launcher to maximize damage in a short amount of time.
In early 2015 AeroVironment launched the Switchblade Blackwing, an unarmed variant of the Switchblade .it was made following a U.S. Navy request for a drone that could provide Sailors’ intelligence surveillance and Reconnaissance information.
This unique variant can be launched from a surface vessel or submerged submarine .after the combat success of the two variants, AeroVironment began working on another version of the Switchblade following the suggestions of Marines and soldiers.
In Afghanistan, the infantryman used it against hostile enemy forces and to strike IEDs or improvise explosive devices and small enemy vehicles.
As such, AeroVironment began working on a larger switchblade aimed specifically at neutralizing armored vehicles. The result was the largest switchblade 600.
The device weighs 120 pounds and measures over 71 inches. It has a range of more than 40 kilometers, an endurance of more than 40 minutes, and a cruise speed of 70 miles per hour.
Plus, its dash speed is estimated to be 115 miles per hour. Such features make the switchblade 600 The ultimate Next Generation long-range loitering missile and carry an anti-armor Warhead that can damage hardened targets from safe distances.
Like its predecessor, the switchblade 600 is an all-in-one Man-portable solution that includes everything to fight hostile forces from Land, Air, and sea.
In addition, an intuitive touchscreen table with Fire Control System allows the operator to plan flight operations and execute missions.
The two switchblades are small, quiet, and difficult to detect or intercept by enemy forces, which has made them the ideal weapon for the U.S. Military. Both the U.S. Military and the British Armed Forces currently employ both versions.
And after the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine in early 2022, the Army started considering selling switchblades to Ukraine and Lithuania .still, no order has been placed, and it Remains to be seen that the Ukrainians will use the drones as the tension continues to rise between the United States and Russia.