Anti-Armor Suicide Drone to Be Fielded by U.S. Special Ops Command

There are countless varieties of military drones out there, ranging from hand-launched ones with limited range to the massive predators that can fly for hours on end. Few of them are however as frightening as something called loitering munition.
AeroVironment Switchblade 600 6 photos
Photo: AeroVironment
AeroVironment Switchblade 600AeroVironment Switchblade 600AeroVironment Switchblade 600AeroVironment Switchblade 600AeroVironment Switchblade 600
That would be that type of device, carrying payloads that can kill and destroy, that can float around in the air for short periods of time, looking for the best target and the best moment to strike. That’s why people like to call this kind of ammo suicide or kamikaze drones.

One of the biggest makers of such devices is American company AeroVironment. Since 2012, assembly lines have been rolling something called Switchblade, a family of killer drones that now comprises two types of ammunition, the 300 and the 600.

We’re already covered the 300 a bit when the U.S. Army awarded AeroVironment a logistical support contract earlier in April. But now the 600 comes into play as well, after we learned more of this technology will be deployed by forces of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

The 600 is the bad boy of the Switchblade family, and has improved capabilities compared to the 300. Its flight autonomy is of more than 40 minutes, compared to the 15 of its smaller sibling, meaning it can stay airborne until it’s absolutely positive the target is about to hit is the right one.

It uses a gimbaled sensor suite to gather data, and most importantly, it packs an anti-armor warhead that can take out lightly armored enemy vehicles or hardened enemy positions. Just like its little brother, it can be carried by a single soldier.

The USSOCOM wants a lot of Switchblade 600s, and will give AeroVironment over $26 million for them. Plans are to deploy the weapons on unnamed “specialized maritime platforms” that should be completed by 2023.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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