The UK is the only foreign country that has been granted permission to acquire the Switchblade so far. But that could change in the very near future as reports emerge that the US is set to provide Switchblades killer drones to Ukraine which are capable of accurately targeting tanks from miles away.
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The Biden administration is supplying Ukraine with U.S.-made killer drones – cutting-edge directed missiles that can precisely strike Russian forces from kilometers away — as part of a large defense aid package revealed Wednesday, according to two congressional officials informed on the topic.
The weaponry were alluded to as “100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems” by the White House in an information sheet on the aid package. This action was under discussion, according to an exclusive report from NBC News on Tuesday.
The Switchblade 300 and 600 are two varieties of the weapon supplied to the US Special Operations Command by AeroVironment, a company situated in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The 300 is intended for precise attacks on troops, while the 600 is built to demolish tanks as well as other armored vehicles. Officials from Congress were unclear about which model would be delivered to Ukraine, or if both would be.
In December, NBC News covered an exclusive presentation of the Switchblade 300. Officials from AeroVironment alleged at the time that the government had prohibited them from exhibiting the 600.
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Officials from AeroVironment did not reply to calls for comment.
“We stand with our allies and sovereign nations in their right to protect their homelands and their very lives when this fundamental right is threatened,” the company said in a statement on its website headlined “AeroVironment stands with the people of Ukraine and all of NATO.”
The Switchblades are robotic smart bombs with cameras, guidance systems, and explosives built in. They may be controlled to strike targets thousands of kilometers away and maneuvered around objectives until the timing is right to strike. The 600, according to the manufacturer, can fly for 40 minutes and travel up to 50 miles.
They’ve been termed “kamikaze drones” because they’re single-use weapons. They are, however, extremely less expensive than the Hellfire missiles fired by US Reaper drones. According to some estimates, the 300 might cost as little as $6,000.
Both missiles can be built up and fired from tubes in a matter of minutes. They fly far quicker than the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones that Ukraine has been deploying to wreck havoc on Russia, and they would theoretically be able to breach Russia’s patchy air defenses.
If the Switchblade is utilized in Ukraine, it will be the weapon’s most important military use to date. According to sources acquainted with the situation, the US military employed the Switchblade in limited combat situations in Afghanistan and elsewhere but did not publish the information.
Many uncertainties remain regarding the potential deal with Ukraine, including how many missiles the US has on hand, how quickly AeroVironment can produce new ones, as well as how much training Ukrainians will need to handle the weapons.
The UK is the only foreign country that has been granted permission to acquire the Switchblade so far.