Lethal Switchblade 300 loitering munition was copied in Russia
A photo posted on the web shows loitering ammunition heavily impaling the American Switchblade 300, which is an original production of AeroVironment. International Defense Analysis, via its Twitter account, claimed that a photo and video footage of Russian loitering munitions were distributed by Russia’s RIA Novosti.
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The Russian loitering munition is called BAS-80. It is black in color. The photo shows that the body of the BAS-80 is rectangular in shape, with at least two surveillance cameras located in its front part.
The fin is located at the rear of the munition. The wings are two, crossing perpendicularly to the body of the kamikaze drone. One wing is attached at the top of the drone’s body, while the second wing is attached at the bottom. The two wings are located at a distance from each other.
Similarities and differences
It is the attachment of the BAS-80 wings that is distinguishable from the original Switchblade 300 assembly, where the two wings are attached to the lower part of the drone’s body [fuselage]. The two tails of the BAS-80 are located in the rear of the fuselage, perpendicularly raised in height to the loitering ammunition body.
The principle of operation of the BAS-80 is the same as that of the Switchblade 300. That is. launch is carried out from a launcher [tube]. After the BAS-80 is launched, the two wings unfold to assume the shape shown in the photo. This is how the American drone works too.
BAS-80 is a new product and there is no information yet about its combat capabilities. How much charge it carries, what range it has, and what its navigation system is are still unclear. Also, the Switchblade 300 shows the presence of sensors on the front of the fuselage, while the BAS-80 [judging by the photo] does not. But they can be hidden in the fuselage.
Because of the war
Most likely, the BAS-80 was copied as a result of the first captured or unexploded Switchblade 300 drones in 2022 in Ukraine. Then Kyiv received its first deliveries from the US of these munitions.
In early May 2022, BulgarianMilitary.com reported on the first captured Switchblade 300 drone that fell into the hands of the Russian armed forces. Then, the drone failed to explode and fell crashing to the ground. A part of the fuselage of the American drone was damaged, but the electronics [boards, processors, chips, etc.] remained intact.
At the end of the same month, Russian media confirmed that a shipment of intact and ready-to-use Switchblade 300 drones had been seized by Russian soldiers. BulgarianMilitary.com attached photos of the crates and the unwrapped drones. The Russian military announced, quoted by the country’s media, that this shipment would be used against the Ukrainian armed forces.
These isolated incidents, as well as those that we have not reported but certainly happened, are most likely the original source of the idea that the Russian defense industry would develop a copy of American loitering munitions. In fact, this is wartime practice, especially when early in the war until mid-2022, Russian drones such as the Orlan-10 were failing.
Later, the Russian Lancet kamikaze drone appeared on the scene, which fundamentally changed the performance of the Russian Air Force with the use of such a munition. Lancet still continues to reap success, becoming the most successful Russian drone, which has in its portfolio already humiliated various armored fighting techniques, such as self-propelled howitzers, as well as tanks, including the Leopard.
Copies of the Switchblade 300 may soon appear in other parts of the world as part of the armament of local armies. Although Russia has access to this drone through its use in warfare, the fact that there are recorded attempts to sell the Switchblade 300 on the dark web by unknown individuals in Kyiv suggests that less technologically advanced countries in this area can gain access.
We will only remind you that in August 2022, BulgarianMilitary.com reported on such a sale on the dark web. Despite subsequent denials from Ukrainian sources, the fact that some weapons supplied to Ukraine subsequently ended up in Scandinavian gangs or among cartels in Mexico suggests that the illegal arms trade in arms in the wake of the war is flourishing. Which is de facto no surprise.
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