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Switchblade: American kamikaze drones to protect Ukraine

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Switchblade kamikaze drones will be shipped to Ukraine. Let’s try to understand in detail how they work and how they can be of use for Ukrainian Armed Forces in the war against russia.

War in my country continues, thousands of Ukrainians are dying from the invaders. Orc forces launch air and missile strikes on residential areas in Mariupol, Kharkiv, Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. They will never be spared or forgiven. We will stand, we will win. They will pay dearly for the tears of our children, for destroyed cities and villages. Our valiant warriors give them a decent rebuff. The whole world is helping us in this by providing state-of-the-art weapons to fight russian occupants.

Switchblade

Yesterday, the Americans announced that they are to provide 100 units of state-of-the-art Switchblade kamikaze drones to Ukrainian troops fighting against russian aggression. These are extremely effective devices that have already proven themselves very well during the most difficult fighting in Afghanistan.

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What are these UAVs?

Switchblade was created for US troops and used in Afghanistan. Dense air support, such as bombs dropped by planes or large drones, is time consuming, costly and can cause unnecessary collateral damage if the target is in urban areas.

If troops are operating out of range of artillery support, they can use guided missiles such as the FGM-148 Javelin, but these weapons are very expensive and not suitable for destroying some targets, in case if they are hidden behind a wall or a building.

Although the U.S. military has used portable unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Raven and Puma, which can carry out reconnaissance and  pose threat to the military, they are unable to quickly attack identified targets. The fact is that they fly without any weapons. Warheads are too heavy to be transported with these drones. The advent of Switchblade has radically changed the situation. These kamikaze drones can be both reconnaissance and deadly weapons in the fight against the enemy.

Read also: Weapons of Ukrainian victory: ATGM Javelin FGM-148 – ruthless to enemy tanks

Switchblade first used in Afghanistan

Switchblade поєднує в собі багато переваг. Це і легкість транспортування, і розвідувальні можливості, і здатність нести боєголовку на борту. Ще одна суттєва перевага – доволі низька ціна – $6000.

Switchblade combines many advantages. These are  ease of transportation, reconnaissance capabilities, and the ability to carry a warhead on board. Another significant advantage is a rather low price of $ 6,000.

Switchblade

Switchblade has gained great popularity among the military. And although the US Army considers it rather as circulating ammunition, these drones have proven to be extremely effective. The possibility of quick deployment combined with high accuracy made them very valuable for soldiers who often had to wait a long time for air support.

Another advantage of the Switchblade is the option of disabling the warhead during the mission, even before the final strike. In numerous cases it saved the lives of civilians who were mistakenly identified as hostiles.

Switchblade 300 – little killer

Switchblade is a small light drone that can stay in the air for up to 30 minutes before a ground operator directs it to a target, up to ten kilometers away. The drone is launched from a special tube as a mortar projectile. Real-time GPS guidance allows a serviceman to control a drone in the field until the moment it hits the target. These kamikaze drones were developed by American company AeroVironment Inc. specifically for the US military. There are two modifications of these devices, Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600. The latter is even able to destroy tanks. Only Switchblade 300 will be delivered to Ukraine.

Switchblade

These weapons, as I mentioned, were first used in Afghanistan by the US Spec Ops, but were quickly adopted by the Army and Marine Corps, having been appreciated for the ease of use and combat effectiveness of these weapons, their ability to detect and destroy ambushes or enemy vehicles.

The Switchblade 300 was designed as a disposable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to increase the firepower of infantry units. That is, to support the infantry during combat encounters with the enemy.

It is 610 mm long and weighs only 2.5 kg together with the casing and the launcher, which makes it very easy to transport even by a single soldier. This drone can reach a speed of 157 km/h. This makes it a fairly fast UAV, so it is not as vulnerable as its modern counterparts.

Switchblade

The Switchblade is inserted into the tube, and its wings unfold when it is already in the air. It is guided by the operator from a distance of up to 10 km from the target. But the small size of this UAV limits the duration of its flight to 10 minutes. This somewhat reduces its spying capability, but it is very useful for engaging individual ground targets.

Its warhead has an explosive charge equivalent to a 40-mm grenade, so it is suitable for destroying light armored vehicles and enemy personnel. It is a very convenient weapon in the fight against infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles, also effective against infantry – after the attack of this kamikaze drone their bodies will fertilize Ukrainian land.

The warhead is specifically designed for controlled firepower. Not only an impact explosion is possible, but also a detonation at a certain height. Most importantly, all parameters can be changed in-flight. Simply put, the operator can change the target and the direction of impact on the go. There is almost no salvation for enemies from such a UAV. The Taliban had repeatedly felt this. And now russian orcs are also facing imminent death.

БільшMoreover, in addition to the ability to destroy ground targets, Switchblade can also target and destroy enemy drones. This little killer is able to detect enemy UAVs and ram them. Therefore, it is classified as a kamikaze drone.

Switchblade

This UAV is powered by an electric motor, so the quiet flight and small size make it extremely difficult to detect  by  the enemy or attempt to intercept.

The Switchblade uses daytime and infrared cameras, as well as an ‘aided target tracker’ to lock on to stationary and moving targets.

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Supporting military operations in the field or from a fixed defensive position, tested in combat, the Switchblade 300 with its patented wave-off function is the ideal guided missile for use against targets out of sight. Switchblade 300 with the ability to quickly deploy from air, sea or ground platform provides increased mortality of the enemy, employing GPS guidance and real-time video for accurate targeting with minimal collateral damage.

Switchblade Sensor to Shooter (S2S) combines the excellent ISR capabilities of AeroVironment small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) with the ability to accurately guide the Switchblade missile system. With S2S software, target coordinates are instantly transmitted from SUAS to Switchblade via inter-machine communication, which reduces interaction time and cognitive load on the operator. S2S provides Switchblade operators with real-time video surveillance for centralized viewing of the work area and the ability to match scenes with the SUAS ISR and Switchblade 300 on one screen.

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Specifications

Switchblade 300

  • Operational range: 10 km
  • Flight time: 15 minutes
  • Weight: 2.5 kg
  • Flight ceiling: 4500 m
  • Flight altitude: above 150 m
  • Cruising speed: 100 km/h
  • Max speed: 157 km/h

https://youtu.be/yT2PZnbNKKA

Switchblade 600

  • Operational range: 40 km
  • Flight time: 40 minutes
  • Weight: 54,4 kg
  • Flight ceiling: 4500 m
  • Flight altitude: above 150 m
  • Cruising speed: 110 km/h
  • Max speed: 185 km/h

https://youtu.be/EBNayBINEBc

Why Switchblade shipment is good news?

This kamikaze drone is powered by a launcher that looks like a mortar deployed on the ground. Once launched, the Switchblade spreads its wings to move toward its target thanks to a piloting system that allows it to follow it as it moves. This device has already proven itself. It has been used by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Switchblade

These new weapons can be crucial for the destruction of armored vehicles, as well as artillery positions that are shelling Ukrainian cities, causing many deaths, especially among the civilian population. Washington has not yet officially confirmed anything, and the American manufacturer of these weapons, AeroVironment, refuses to respond to the press. But there is  press release published on its website in which its confirmed its support for Ukraine. It reads: ‘We stand for freedom and support our allies and our sovereign nations in their right to defend their homeland and their lives, even when this fundamental right is at stake. These solutions are needed by Ukraine and our Eastern European allies to defeat Russia’s military and deter in the future. We are ready to support you today.’

However, so far no one knows whether Switchblades shipment is just a promise or whether the contract with the manufacturer has already been signed. It is also unknown when they will arrive in Ukraine. Most likely, AeroVironment has stocks of these kamikaze drones. Otherwise, it would take several months to produce them in large quantities. It is also unknown exactly how many will be sent. But any help is very important now.

Everything will be Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine! Death to enemies!

You can also help Ukraine fight with Russian occupants via Savelife or via an official page of the National Bank of Ukraine.

Yuri Svitlyk
Yuri Svitlyk
Son of the Carpathian Mountains, unrecognized genius of mathematics, Microsoft "lawyer", practical altruist, levopravosek

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