AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) today announced it has developed a block upgrade, designated Block 10C, to its already fielded Switchblade™ Tactical Missile system. The Digital Data Link (DDL) incorporated into Block 10C provides a stable and secure encrypted communication link that enables more efficient use of existing frequency bands and significantly reduces the likelihood of signal interception. Frequency efficiency and secure communications are critical to warfighters in today’s complex operational environment.
The Block 10C upgrade also enables the concurrent operation of multiple Switchblade systems in the same vicinity without signal conflict, provides the opportunity to extend operational ranges significantly using another DDL arbiter, such as AeroVironment’s Puma AE™ unmanned aircraft system, and facilitates the automatic communication of mission plans from one AeroVironment unmanned aircraft system to a Switchblade, also known as sensor to shooter operations.
Bill Nichols of the U.S. Army PEO Missiles and Space Close Combat Weapons Systems (CCWS) Program office, which manages Switchblade, said “Switchblade Block 10C will increase the capabilities of the warfighter in the field through encrypted operation and improved Army-wide frequency de-confliction and management.”
“The new Switchblade Block 10C is the result of close collaboration between our U.S. Army customer and the AeroVironment team,” said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Working with the Army and other users we continue to evolve and expand the capabilities of the Switchblade tactical missile system to provide troops with the most reliable and effective force protection solution possible. We are already working on future upgrades to this important capability to give our forces an even greater advantage on the battlefield.”
AeroVironment and its strategic teammate for advanced warheads, Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), will work together to produce and deliver the systems.
About AeroVironment Switchblade Tactical Missile System
The Switchblade™ tactical missile system, developed and produced by AeroVironment, enables the infantry squad with increased lethality, reach and force protection through its rapid deployment, direct fire and collateral damage avoidance capabilities. Switchblade was first fielded in 2011 under a series of U.S. Army urgent needs requiring a portable weapons system capable of engaging targets beyond line of sight, in defilade, on rooftops, fleeting targets, those in concealed locations and in complex areas of operation requiring minimal collateral damage for the dismounted operator. Switchblade provides day and night operation, loitering capability and wave off to minimize collateral damage. Since the initial 2011 award, AeroVironment has produced more than 1,500 Switchblade missile bodies for various customers in both integrated warhead and training configurations.
About AeroVironment Small UAS
RQ-11B Raven®, RQ-12 Wasp®, RQ-20A Puma™ and Shrike VTOL™ comprise AeroVironment’s Family of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Operating with a common ground control system (GCS), this Family of Systems provides increased capability to the warfighter that can give ground commanders the option of selecting the appropriate aircraft based on the type of mission to be performed. This increased capability has the potential to provide significant force protection and force multiplication benefits to small tactical units and security personnel. AeroVironment provides logistics services worldwide to ensure a consistently high level of operational readiness and provides mission services for customers requiring only the information its small UAS produce. AeroVironment has delivered thousands of new and replacement small unmanned air vehicles to customers within the United States and to more than 30 international governments.
AeroVironment is a technology solutions provider that designs, develops, produces, supports and operates an advanced portfolio ofUnmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and electric transportation solutions. The company’s electric-powered, hand-launched unmanned aircraft systems generate and process data to deliver powerful insight, on demand, to people and enterprises engaged in military, public safety and commercial activities around the world. More information about AeroVironment is available at www.avinc.com.
About Orbital ATK
Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. Headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, Orbital ATK employs approximately 12,000 people in 18 states across the U.S. and in several international locations. For more information, visitwww.orbitalatk.com.