The president of the United States, Joe Biden, has announced the shipment of an additional 800 million dollars in military weapons to Ukraine. It is a package that, among other elements, includes 100 Switchblade Tactical Dronesknown as “kamikazes” for their unique single-use nature to destroy targets with high precision.
Unlike long-range Predator drones, which require trained pilots to control them from a distance and fire missiles at their targets, Switchblades are easy to transport and require little training to use against tanks, armored vehicles and even planes, according to The New York Times.
Small and lethal drones
The Biden administration has not revealed what type of Switchblade drones they will send, but There are two models that basically differ in size and ability to deal damage.. However, both are single-use weapons that are launched from a portable base and can fly in the direction of their target to damage or destroy them on impact.
Switchblade 300: The drone’s capabilities make it a “portable high-precision missile.” It can be operated manually or automatically at short and long distance. Thanks to its small size it can be carried in a backpack and its silent motor allows it to go unnoticed by enemy forces.
The technical sheet available on the manufacturer’s page details that the drone weighs 2.5 kg, has an operating range of 10 km and can stay in the air for up to 15 minutes. The maximum speed is 160 km/h. The model has a GPS system and built-in cameras that provide information to the mission operator in real time.
As you can see in the video below, the Switchblade is capable of operating in different areas of combat, both on land and at sea. And, for targets outside of line of sight, operators can scan the terrain with reconnaissance drones to extend attack range and accuracy.
Switchblade 600: is the new generation of these weapons. It can be set up and up and running in 10 minutes. The main novelties of this model are its high range, the ability to attack long-range targets without the support of patrol drones, and enough attack power to disable armored vehicles.
In this case, the data sheet specifies a weight of 54.4 kg, an operating range of 40 km, the ability to stay in the air for more than 40 minutes. It can fly at a maximum speed of 180 km/h. The drone also has GPS, video system and infrared sensors to facilitate the operator’s task.
Both models communicate with the operator via a secure, encrypted digital data link (DDL). The system reduces the chances of signal interference and interception, as well as allowing multiple Switchblade drones to operate simultaneously as a swarm to attack multiple targets.
How do the Switchblade?
Switchblades come in a launch tube that is placed on the ground like a small mortar. The operator, from a control center, launches the drone and follows its trajectory live both by the GPS positioning system and by the video signal transmitted live.
Once the operator identifies a threat, be it a sniper or a vehicle, he gives the order to attack from the control center. The drone returns to the target to launch itself at them and deal damage. In addition, the system’s algorithms provide a tracking capability for moving targets.
Switchblades also have a failsafe that allows them to abort a mission. This feature could be useful if civilians appear on the scene or if the target starts to move and the range of the aircraft is not enough to reach it.
Switchblade drones are old acquaintances of US troops. These were used in 2010 to attack Taliban targets in Afghanistan. Manufacturer AeroVironment said earlier this month that it was ready to help Ukraine “win against the Russian military and strategically deter future aggression.”
AeroVironment is also a reliable NASA contractor. Together with the US agency’s Reaction Propulsion Laboratory, the team developed the Ingenuity, which became the first aircraft to fly on Mars, surpassed twenty flights and is now preparing for its most risky mission.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism