Switchblade 600 Loitering Munition Drone System
|

US Army will Buy Switchblade 600 Kamikaze Drones Through Replicator

The US Army to deploy more than 1000 Switchblade 600 drones until next year as a part of Replicator program [the Pentagon’s efforts to deploy unmanned systems in large numbers].

Follow us on Google News to get the latest defense news and analysis

The US Army’s Vice Chief of Staff General James J. Mingus for the very first time disclosed the quantity of unmanned systems that the Pentagon aims to deploy. He disclosed these figures during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, hosted at the Defense Innovation Unit’s headquarters in Mount View, Calif.

AeroVironment Switchblade 600 Kamikaze Drones:

Developed by AeroVironment, this kamikaze switchblade drone is an all-in-one, man-portable solution that represents the next generation of extended-range loitering munitions, featuring high-precision optics, over 40 minutes of loitering endurance, and an anti-armor warhead for engaging larger, difficult targets at greater distances, and delivering unprecedented reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition support.

Switchblade 600 animated video details [Video via AeroVironment]

The Switchblade 600 Kamikaze drone is a comprehensive solution for mission planning and execution, operational in under 10 minutes. It features top-of-the-line, high-resolution EO/IR gimbaled sensors and advanced precision flight control. This innovative system allows for rapid deployment via launcher/tube-launch, enabling users to quickly fly, track, and engage targets, including non-line-of-sight targets and armored vehicles, with precise lethal effects. Remarkably, it achieves all this without requiring external ISR or fire support assets, making it an indispensable tool for modern warfare.

Also Read:

Russian Modern Jamming made US HIMARS ‘Ineffective’ in Ukraine – Report

Other AeroVironment loitering munitions of the same family includes Switchblade 300 Block 20 and Blackwing reconnaissance systems.

Family of Loitering Munition by AeroVironment
Family of Loitering Munition by AeroVironment

Operational Capabilities:

These Kamikaze drones have a range of upto 40 km and flight endurance of more than 40 minutes. This AeroVironment switchblade loitering munition drone has a weight of 15 kg and a speed of 113 km/h. It houses next-generation technology having high precision gimbaled EO/IR sensor suit and advanced precision flight control.

Specs Details
Origin: USA
Drone Type: Military Grade
Developed By: AeroVironment
Range: 40+ km
Endurance: 40+ minutes
Weight: 15 kg
Speed: 113 km/h
Operating Altitude: Below 650 ft
Ceiling: 15000 ft
Cost Per Unit: Not Available

This sensor suite features an intuitive touchscreen tablet-based fire control unit with an integrated mission planner, training simulator and patented wave-off/recommit capability that redefines the next generation of extended-range loitering munition systems.

AeroVironment Switchblade 600 Loitering munition
AeroVironment Switchblade 600 Loitering munition [Image via AeroVironment]

This all-in-one, man-portable loitering munition is designed for ultimate convenience and versatility. It comes in a self-contained launch tube and includes everything needed to successfully execute missions on land, at sea, or in the air.

AeroVironment Switchblade UAV has featured heavily on battlefields in Russia, Syria and Iraq. Countries like the USA and UK are already operating these unmanned systems.

Cost:

The Switchblade 600 price has not been revealed by the AeroVironment. But you can get the idea of the price from the cost of the earlier version Switchblade 300, which is around $60,000 – $80,000.

Why is the US Army Buying this System?

AeroVironment’s Switchblade loitering munition is a standout choice in the Defense Department’s initial acquisition phase of the Replicator program. This advanced system is the only one named by officials, highlighting its significance. 

Switchblade drone system
Switchblade drone system [Image via AeroVironment]

The Replicator initiative, announced by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks last August, aims to achieve two key objectives. In the short term, the Pentagon plans to deploy large numbers of attritable drones to counter China’s growing military capabilities. The broader, long-term goal is to establish a sustainable process for rapidly acquiring advanced technology to address the Defense Department’s most urgent operational needs. This dual approach ensures both immediate tactical advantages and a robust framework for future technological innovation.

Alongside the Switchblade 600, the program plans to procure a fleet of maritime drones through a DIU solicitation, a collection of uncrewed surface vehicles, and various counter-drone systems. These acquisitions demonstrate a strategic move to integrate cutting-edge unmanned technologies for enhanced military capabilities across land, sea, and air.

The Pentagon is set to invest $1 billion in the Replicator initiative over fiscal years 2024 and 2025. This substantial funding will be sourced from prior year appropriations, a reprogramming request, a national security supplemental approved in August, and the department’s pending FY-25 budget proposal. This financial commitment underscores the Defense Department’s dedication to enhancing its capabilities through advanced technology and strategic innovations.

“That was an innovation that we had worked collectively together, it’s a loitering munition, which we then included as part of Replicator Tranche One,” Mingus said during the hearing. “And we are now going to scale and scope that to over 1,000 over the next year or so.”

Analysis:

As a senior defense analyst, I can affirm that the Switchblade 600 loitering munition, developed by AeroVironment, stands out as a key acquisition in the Defense Department’s initial tranche of the Replicator program. Notably, it is the only system identified by name so far. In addition to this loitering munition, the program includes an unspecified fleet of maritime drones acquired through a DIU solicitation, a series of uncrewed surface vehicles, and a collection of counter-drone systems. These acquisitions underscore a strategic shift towards leveraging advanced, unmanned technologies to enhance military capabilities across various domains.

General Info About Switchblade Drones:

Can Switchblade 600 be able to destroy a tank?

Switchblade-600 with its 40+ km range, advanced optics, and endurance of 40+ minutes, making it a good platform for tracking and engaging targets like tanks in the battlefield. Also, its anti-armor warhead enables long-distance strikes capable of neutralizing heavy armored vehicles.

How effective is Switchblade 600?

This kamikaze drone boasts an impressive 24.9+ mile range, 40 minutes of loitering endurance, and can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. Designed for multi-domain military operations, these advanced loitering munitions are engineered to effectively destroy armored vehicles and other high-value targets such as Tanks.

How much do Switchblade drones cost?

The cost of AeroVironment Switchblade 600 has not been disclosed by AeroVironment but its earlier version the Switchblade 300, costs between $60,000 and $80,000 per unit.

What is the difference between Switchblade 300 and 600?

Switchblade-600 developed by AeroVironment is an advanced loitering munitions variant of Switchblade 300. It is a significant upgrade offering longer loitering periods, farther distances, and more advanced reconnaissance and attack capabilities.

Source:

  1. AeroVironment Official Site
  2. Defense News
  3. Defense Scoop

Similar Posts