The Switchblade 600 loitering munitions and the JUMP 20 VTOL UAV are two of the most cutting-edge and innovative UAV systems currently available. The Switchblade 600 loitering munitions and the JUMP 20 VTOL UAV are two of the most cutting-edge and innovative UAV systems currently available.

According to evaluations, these two platforms will greatly boost long-distance precision attack and surveillance capabilities. Together, they add a significant battlefield tactical upgrade to Ukrainian forces as the war enters its second and most decisive year.

The systems might be employed in tandem with Western main battle tanks already in Ukraine or on their way there, such as the M1A2 Abrams (USA), Challenger-2 (UK), and Leopard-2 (Germany), to deal the most damage possible to the Russian armored forces.

As part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which provides cash for direct purchases for Ukraine, the United States has shipped over $2 billion in military aid, which was disclosed on February 24.

This differs from presidential withdrawals, which involve the transfer of arms and ammunition stocks directly from US military inventories.

Switchblade 600 Scout Ammo

AeroVironment’s Switchblade 600 further advanced the Switchblade 300 loitering ammunition that Ukraine had procured directly from US military stocks. Portable tube-launched kamikaze drones had become the most popular weapon of the war in the early months, taking down Russian armor and heavy vehicles.

As opposed to the Switchblade 300 and 500, which would struggle against heavy armor, the Switchblade 600 is distinguished by its capacity to carry the same warhead as the Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).

According to the AeroVironment website, it has a “patented deactivation and reconnection capability (which allows) operators to abort the mission at any time and re-engage the same target or multiple targets multiple times based on operator orders.”

The Switchblade 600 can go at least 25 miles (40 kilometers) and can stay in the air for 40 minutes (or longer, depending on how you fly). The Switchblade 300 can only hit targets around 10 kilometers away and stay airborne for a maximum of 15 minutes.

The 600’s ability to bypass the line of sight and longer range allows it to fly deeper into enemy lines and hit tanks hidden in the rear. This can greatly help the Western Ukrainian tanks themselves, as it minimizes the chances of them being lured or primed into a trap by Russian T-90M Provy MBTs hiding in the woods.

Drone JUMP 20 VTOL

US special operations forces have relied on AeroVironment’s JUMP 20 VTOL drone for years. The JUMP 20 was designed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The United States Army chose it in 2022 to replace the obsolete RQ-7 Shadow.

The UAV has a single gasoline engine at the front for level flight. Four vertically positioned electric motor rotors propel it for take-off and landing.

You can use the JUMP 20 for a variety of missions. The system can be up and running in less than 60 minutes, regardless of the track, without launching or recovering any equipment.

(It has) a payload capacity of up to 30 pounds (13 kgs),” says the AeroVironment website. Defense bloggers also claim its range is over 185 kilometers, and its ceiling is over 5,100 meters. However, this information could not be independently verified.

The UAV is equipped with various electro-optical reconnaissance and surveillance devices. Nevertheless, last year, AeroVironment revealed that it was developing the capability to launch two kamikaze Switchblade 300 drones as payloads, which is a terrifying development.

It’s unclear if this is the default capacity if there are more variants, or if this is the version that can be purchased in Ukraine. Even the United States has been putting some of its military hardware through its paces by supplying Ukraine, so it is conceivable that this feature will be tested on test ranges in Ukraine if not deployed there.

Will drones push Russia back?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Ukraine are well aware of Russia’s clear superiority in ground and air forces and that Western tanks could, at best, contain and delay the Russian advance into eastern and southern Ukraine.

Conceivably impossible to completely reverse Russian advances, it is safe to assume that the US and Ukraine could hastily develop tactics to use drones and tanks in a coordinated manner.

This feature may be tested on test ranges in Ukraine if not deployed there. The United States has been putting some of its military weapons through its paces by providing Ukraine.

However, a section of military observers has long doubted the level of mastery that Ukrainian tankers could achieve in a short period of time over complex and vastly different Western weapons such as tanks, tactics, and field philosophies. 

Ukrainian military history, organization, and equipment are all direct copies of the Soviet and Russian armed forces. Even if the Switchblade 600 or JUMP20 integrates with Western tanks operated in Ukraine, Kyiv still lags behind the huge inventory of fixed and rotary aircraft supporting Russian armor.

Russia’s anti-armor operations, which include the Ka-52N Alligator attack helicopter, the Mi-28N Havoc, and the tank-busting Marker UAV, can more than makeup for the country’s lack of variety and quantity in its kamikaze drones.

Parth satam