As Russia announces partial mobilization to send even more people to Kobzon’s concert, Ukraine is getting state-of-the-art weapons from Western partners. As part of the USAI military assistance program to Ukraine, the US government signed a contract with AeroVironment. This is the manufacturer of one of the most famous Switchblade drones used by the British and US troops. And now Ukrainian soldiers will have more such UAVs, which will allow them to effectively continue the counteroffensive and liberate the occupied territories.
Purpose of Switchblade 600 Drones
The Switchblade 600 strike UAVs are an enlarged version of the Switchblade 300, which are already used by Ukrainian soldiers at the front. The older version offers an increased flight range (40 km instead of 10 km), autonomy of 40 minutes (against 10 minutes in 300 drones) and an upgraded warhead capable of destroying armored vehicles and artillery installations.
The warhead of this drone is equivalent to the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank system, but additionally allows the infantryman to work with hard-to-reach targets. The Switchblade kamikaze drones were introduced in August 2011 and were immediately used during the military operations in Afghanistan. There they demonstrated their effectiveness precisely in mountainous conditions, helped to destroy the enemy in ambushes and work in complex geography.
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|Characteristic||Switchblade 600||Switchblade 300|
|Attack speed, km/h||185||160|
|Target||heavy armored vehicles, rocket launchers, artillery||personnel, light armored vehicles|
Table 1. Switchblade Drone Comparison
Switchblade 600 Design Features
The Switchblade 600 drone is more than just a drone. It belongs to the category of loitering ammunition. This is a hybrid of a drone and a warhead, a remotely controlled missile that is used both for reconnaissance and to destroy hostile targets beyond the line of sight. This type of armament allows not only to attack the target, but to stay in the air near it for 20 minutes, reconnaissance of the enemy’s position and performing other missions. The device has a secure connection using the GPS module and a fairly quiet electric motor. This complicates its detection by the enemy and allows you to approach the positions quite unnoticed.
The Switchblade 600 is capable of withstanding a payload of 14kg, with a dead weight of 23kg. The attack speed of the device is 185 km per hour, while setting up the soldier should spend only 10 minutes. Using the launch tube, the military can carry the drone and quickly deploy the vehicle to increase fire support. With even one such drone, a military group is able to quickly eliminate an enemy tank or a large group of manpower without requiring air fire support
The drone is usually called a kamikaze, because when attacked, both the target and the drone itself are destroyed. And the name “Switchblade” in English means “folding knife”. This accurately describes the moment the aircraft was launched. At the moment of departure from the launch tube, the drone “spreads” its wings to continue the flight, just like a Swiss knife.
Advantages of the Switchblade 600 drone:
- equipment with the best optical and infrared sensors in its class;
- advanced flight control, long range (40 km) and autonomy;
- simple and fast deployment, the ability to apply from land, sea and air;
- the ability to abort the mission and restart.
Why is this type of weapon so important to us?
Back in the spring, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby reported on the preparation of the Ukrainian military for the use of Switchblade kamikaze drones. Since the Ukrainian army is fighting on its own territory, not only the efficiency, but also the accuracy of weapons is critically important to us. The use of drones allows you to destroy hostile targets, reducing the risks to the civilian population. This will help to avoid the loss of civilians when attacking large cities such as Kherson. And when fighting in urban areas, the drone will help to conduct reconnaissance and destroy targets while minimizing the destruction of infrastructure.
Also, the use of drones helps to accurately eliminate the senior officers, looking for the colonels of the enemy army, destroying their control centers, the organs of the occupying authorities.
The experience of using aircraft confirms the enormous value of their transfer to the armament of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the presence of aircraft in the second country brought the army to a completely different level. Turkish Bayraktars and Israeli Hermes reconnaissance drones have proven that high-tech weapons are critical in 21st century warfare, as it was the drones that destroyed most of the enemy equipment.
The Switchblade 600 will be an effective response to the Russian use of Iranian Shahed-136s that pose a threat to Western weapons such as HIMARS installations. Kamikaze drones can tip the balance of power in our favor, allowing us to gain an air superiority.
Application video from the official AeroVironment Inc. channel: