AeroVironment, the maker of the Switchblade loitering munition Ukraine has used against Russia in recent months, is planning toramp up production of the heavier-duty version.
Ukraine has had repeated battlefield successes with the Switchblade 300 since the United States shipped it 400 of the lighter-weight loitering munition earlier this year, Charlie Dean, AeroVironment’s vice president of sales and business development, said in an interview with Defense News at the Association of the U.S. Army’s conference on Monday.
And with the larger, more powerful Switchblade 600 on its way to Ukraine — Dean said the first batch of 10 would likely be in the country in the next few weeks — and growing visibility and interest in the weapon, AeroVironment is making preparations to produce more.
Dean said Ukraine has “considerable interest” in getting and using the Switchblade 600. Today, AeroVironment can produce more than 2,000 Switchblade 600 systems annually; within a few months, he said, the company hopes to roughly triple that to about 6,000.
To do that, he added, the company is working to obtain more supplies to build the 600 version as well as adding new lines dedicated to the heavier-duty loitering munition.
Right now, he explained, AeroVironment only has one shift building the 600 systems, but could add a second shift if necessary.
Switchblade loitering munitions are essentially a combination of a reconnaissance drone and guided missile.
The smaller Switchblade 300 is small enough that a soldier can carry several in a backpack, set up its launching tube within a few minutes, and fire it off, with its folded wings snapping out like its namesake knife.
The soldier would then fly the 5.5-pound Switchblade 300 up to 10 kilometers, or about 6 miles, sweeping the area with the munition’s camera and looking for a target.
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