AeroVironment has introduced its family of loitering missile systems, featuring the new Switchblade 600 designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. military and other customers. Based on the same tube-launched, collapsible wing, electric propulsion architecture as Switchblade 300 – which was deployed with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011 – the new, larger Switchblade 600 offers expanded capabilities for engaging larger, hardened targets at greater distances.
The Switchblade-300 incorporates an electro-optical and infrared guidance system while achieving a maximum range of 10 km or 15 minutes of flight. Its top speed is 100 mph (160 km/h), and the weight of the ammunition, together with the launcher, is only 2.5 kg.
On the other hand, the new Switchblade-600 weighs approximately 50-pound (22.7 kg) and can be ready for use within 10 minutes. The drone has a top speed of about 115 mph (185 km/h).
Switchblade 600 is equipped with a high-performance EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control, and more than 40 minutes of flight time and delivers unprecedented tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA). This allows Switchblade 600 to transit up to 50 miles (80 km) to a target area before conducting multiple confirmatory orbits, and engage in target prosecution – without the need for external ISR or fires assets.
Besides, AeroVironment’s patented “wave-off” feature and recommit capability delivers the unique ability for operators to cancel an attack within seconds of impact to avoid collateral damage, and then re-engage targets on command. In terms of control, Switchblade 600 relies on a touch-screen, tablet-based Fire Control System (FCS) with tap-to-target guidance and the option to pilot the loitering missile manually or autonomously. The tablet computer system also includes a mission planner, training simulator, and resilient communications with Switchblade 600 through its secure AES-256 digital encryption and SAASM GPS system.
“Since pioneering the loitering missile category with Switchblade 300 more than ten years ago, AeroVironment has worked with multiple new customers to develop scalable variants that could address new mission requirements,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment president and chief executive officer.
“Now that Switchblade 300 has been adopted by the U.S. Army for its LMAMS program, our customers are eager to deploy Switchblade 600 because it can address larger, hardened targets in a more precise, rapid and cost-effective manner than legacy missile systems. We anticipate continued expansion of our family of loitering missile systems to help our customers proceed with certainty across a broader set of missions.”