WASHINGTON — The United States is increasing the production of loitering ammunition from the Switchblade model, which is manufactured by the American company AeroVironment, through a new contract for nearly $ 18 million. The entire amount ordered by the US government goes to Ukraine’s battlefields to help Ukraine’s armed forces.
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At the same time, the prestigious American publication The Drive claims that according to their sources, this time a plane will fly to the front with the delivery of the Switchblade 600 – a much more reliable, highly modified, and deadly version of the “little brother” Switchblade 300 so far from the Ukrainians. The Switchblade 600 is also an anti-armor variant and was introduced only two years ago.
According to publicly available information, the United States has so far sent nearly 700 switching ammunition of the Switchblade 300 to Ukraine.
Recorded use of Switchblade 300 in Ukraine
BulgarianMilitary.com reminds that a few days ago we reported on the documented first participation of Switchblade 300 in Ukraine. Photos on social media show a completely destroyed drone. It is unclear whether the drone was shot down by Russian forces or fulfilled its mission.
A source claims that the remains of the Switchblade 300 were discovered by Russian forces in the Kharkiv Oblast region. Of course, it is not possible to prove when the photos were taken and whether they were really from the cited region.
Experts suggest that the Switchblade 300 has most likely fulfilled its purpose, ie. he blew himself up, or hit, and blew up the target. Examining the photos, they noticed that only the tail [rear part] of the drone was taken in the photos. According to the design of the Switchblade 300, the explosive part is in front of the drone, ie. the explosive head is missing, which means that the drone is working as intended, but whether it hit something remains questionable.
Another proof that the Switchblade 300 was used for its intended purpose is the lack of the outer shell, which means that it burned out in an explosion. The photos also show burnt parts. However, another camera with wood screws is attached, which is strange.
There are fears that the drone has not been completely destroyed, however, and the question remains whether the Russians could access some of the technologies developed and used in the Switchblade 300.
Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600
Switchblades is developed in two versions – Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600. Both versions are in service only in the United States Army and United States Marine Corps. Interestingly, the US government has banned the manufacturer – AeroVironment to demonstrate the capabilities of the second option – Switchblade 600.
In reality, the Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are unmanned aerial vehicles such as robotic intelligent bombs, ie. kamikaze. Like other drones, the Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are equipped with electro-optical surveillance, detection, and search systems.
According to the manufacturer, the second version of the Switchblade 600 can travel 80 km in 40 minutes. Both versions are programmable for auto-hitting targets and have the ability after takeoff the operator to change their trajectory and direct them to another target.
The advantage of this type of kamikaze drone is that they are relatively much cheaper than standard air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles. According to unofficial data, the Switchblade 300 costs just $6,000, while one Hellfire air-to-surface missile costs approximately $150,000.
Analysts compare the currently used Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones to the American Switchblade kamikaze drones, saying that the Switchblade “flies much faster than the Bayraktar TB2”. The Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are tuned and fired in minutes from the launch tube.
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