AeroVironment, Inc. today announced it recently received an order from the United States Air Force for Switchblade loitering munition systems and services. The $4,167,777 extension to an existing contract includes engineering services, operational Switchblade systems and operator training. AeroVironment will work with ATK , its munition subcontractor, to produce and deliver the systems.
AeroVironment also announced that it performed a successful series of live fire demonstrations for multiple U.S. government customers at a military facility in December 2011. The daytime and nighttime demonstrations further illustrated the unique capabilities of the Switchblade system to neutralize threats from a stand-off distance in a variety of operating environments.
The Switchblade loitering munition system launches from a small tube that can be carried in a backpack and transmits live color and infrared video wirelessly for display on AeroVironment’s standard small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) ground control unit. Upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the system operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm its payload and lock its trajectory onto the target. Switchblade flies quietly at high speed and delivers the effects of its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage. The operator can call off a strike even after the Switchblade system is armed, providing a level of control not available in other weapon systems.
Instead of requiring support from weapon systems controlled by other operating units, troops can use the ground launched Switchblade variant to respond to enemy combatants with precision fire from a significant standoff distance, when and where required, representing a valuable new force protection capability.
“This order is another step on the path toward the broader adoption of Switchblade to protect our troops,” said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “ATK is an outstanding partner whose expertise and can-do spirit are helping us refine Switchblade into a practical and affordable new solution for force protection and force multiplication.”
“We are pleased to support AeroVironment and the U.S. Air Force as we validate further the breakthrough Switchblade system in real world conditions,” said Mark Messick, vice president and general manager of Advanced Systems, ATK Aerospace Systems. “This award will enable significant progress in maturing the system for broader use.”