Ukraine is set to receive US Switchblades, kamikaze drones, as per two officials from the Biden administration.
According to military experts, Switchblades can successfully handle Russian armored personnel carriers, tanks, and armored fighting vehicles.
Ukraine continues to fight hostilities on its territory following the Russian invasion.
Incidentally, although the White House is considering such a move, an official decision has yet to be taken. The development comes at a time when the White House and the US Congress are readying a new package of military aid to Ukraine; Switchblades are likely to be included in the list.
Switchblades come in two variants – Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600. Both versions are in service in the US military Army and in US Marine Corps.
Interestingly, the US government has banned AeroVironment, the manufacturer of the drone, to demonstrate the capabilities of the Switchblade 600.
So far it is not clear if in the event Switchblades form part of the military aid package to Ukraine, whether the Switchblade 600 will be part of it.
When asked to comment AeroVironment said, “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. AeroVironment stands with the people of Ukraine and all of NATO.”
Both Switchblades, the 300 and the 600 variants, are unmanned aerial vehicles such as robotic intelligent bombs. Both are equipped with electro-optical surveillance, detection, and search systems.
According to AeroVironment, the Switchblade 600 can travel 80 km in 40 minutes. Both versions are programmable and have the capability to change trajectory after takeoff.
The advantage of kamikaze drone is that they are relatively more cost effective compared to standard air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles. While the Switchblade 300 costs around $6,000, in comparison, a Hellfire air-to-surface missile costs nearly $150,000.
Analysts often compare the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones to the American Switchblade kamikaze drones, saying that the Switchblade “flies much faster than the Bayraktar TB2”.
The Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are tuned and fired in minutes from the launch tube.
Experts believe if Ukraine were to receive the Switchblade, it would become the most significant weapon used in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The Pentagon has also disclosed that the Switchblade 600, was used for precision strikes in Afghanistan.