The U.S. Army has contracted California-based unmanned aerial vehicles manufacturer AeroVironment to supply the tube-launched loitering munition to Ukraine.
The award, announced by the Department of Defense (DoD) on 6 May, covers hardware production of suicide drones called Switchblades.
The deal, which was a modification to a previous contract, was worth almost $18 million and covered work at the firm’s facility in Simi Valley, California, with an estimated completion date of May 4, 2023.
AeroVironment says the Switchblade represents the next generation of extended-range loitering missiles, delivering unprecedented Reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition support and featuring high-precision optics, over 40 minutes of loitering endurance, and an anti-armor warhead for engaging larger, hardened targets at greater distances.
As noted by the company, Switchblade is designed to strike small targets. It can fit in a rucksack, weighs a little over 5 pounds and has a range of 10 miles.
The U.S. already has already donated 400 Switchblade loitering munitions to Ukraine.