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AeroVironment Switchblade


Man-Portable Loitering Missile UAV


United States | 2020



"The AeroVironment Switchblade is a loitering munitions drone operated at the squad-level."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/10/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
One of the evolutionary offshoots of the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) is the loitering munition - portable or vehicle-launched dispensable air vehicles designed to neutralize embedded enemies. For AeroVironment, whose proven UAV product line up is long and deep, provides such a solution through its impressive "Switchblade" loitering missile. The Switchblade is a self-contained, man-portable or vehicle-mounted product for search-and-destroy actions.

The Switchblade drone takes to the air via its provided launch tube and the complete package (drone, launch tube, and payload) can be deployed in seconds at the squad-level - serving both special forces operatives as well as conventional infantry with equal efficiency. Carry weight is just 5.5lb while the complete system can be hauled in a basic rucksack. A hinged bipod supports the launch tube when made ready-to-fire on the ground. Its compact size, relatively low operating acoustics, and low thermal output allow it to break through most any defense unnoticed.

The design of the UAV is centered on a tubular fuselage which contains all pertinent operating components including the drive motor - providing power to the twin-bladed propeller unit at the rear ("pusher" configuration) - avionics set, and camera equipment. Twin low-mounted mainplanes are featured fore and aft along the fuselage and a twin-vertical tailplane arrangement is used. All wing surfaces hinged and spring into action upon launch.

The system sports full GPS support and offers real-time video, making the product capable of Search-and-Track (SaT) functionality as well as engagement. Targeting optics include dual front- and side-looking Electro-Optical (EO) cameras as well as a nose-mounted camera fitting with fully-stabilized electronic pan/tilt/zoom. All this adds precision in the strike action, reducing collateral damage considerably while a "wave off" capability ensures the air vehicle can be called off before it fully commits to the attack should the situation change.

Switchblade features a 10 kilometer range with 15 minute endurance window and maximum speeds can reach near 100 miles-per-hour while cruising is closer to 63 mph. Operating altitudes of the standard Switchblade product are under 500 feet though other variants are shown to operate over 15,000 feet according to marketing materials.

Beyond its base man-portable form is the vehicle-installed Multi-Pack Launcher (MPL) featuring up to six ready-to-fire Switchblade loitering missiles with rapid-reload function and variable power options (conventional, solar). This model can be fitted to vehicles, warships, and aircraft as needed, fulfilling the same battlefield role as its man-portable version.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

October 2020 - AeroVironment has revealed its Switchblade 600 anti-armor loitering munition unmanned air vehicle.

March 2021 - The United Kingdom is in line to purchase a stock of Switchblade loitering munitions, marking the nation as the first foreign operator of the type.

April 2021 - U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has committed to the purchase of the AeroVironment 600 loitering munition through a $26.1 million USD contract.

March 2022 - The United States has confirmed that it will be sending at least 100 Switchblade loitering munitions UAV units to Ukraine for its fight against Russia.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the AeroVironment Switchblade Man-Portable Loitering Missile UAV.
1 x Motor driving twin-bladed propeller at rear of fuselage in pusher configuration.
Propulsion
100 mph
161 kph | 87 kts
Max Speed
6 miles
10 km | 5 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the AeroVironment Switchblade Man-Portable Loitering Missile UAV.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
4 lb
(2 kg)
Empty Weight
4 lb
(2 kg)
MTOW
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the AeroVironment Switchblade Man-Portable Loitering Missile UAV .
Modular payload (Northrop Grumman Advanced Munition).
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the AeroVironment Switchblade family line.
Switchblade - Base Series Designation.
Switchblade MPL - Multi-Pack Launcher incorporates six Switchblade drones with rapid reload functionality; for use on warships, vehicles, and aircraft.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the AeroVironment Switchblade. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 2,000 Units

Contractor(s): AeroVironment - USA
National flag of Ukraine National flag of the United States

[ Ukraine (announced); United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (100mph).

Graph Average of 90 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Production Comparison
2000
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the AeroVironment Switchblade
Image from AeroVironment marketing materials.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
RECONNAISSANCE
SPECIAL FORCES
UNMANNED
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The AeroVironment Switchblade Man-Portable Loitering Missile UAV appears in the following collections:
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