What is the Switchblade 'Kamikaze' drone? Biden could send smart tank-killer to Ukraine
As Russia's attacks on Ukraine continue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleads for more weapons to defend his country. American President Joe Biden is considering sending US-made Switchblade drones to Ukraine as part of a $1 billion defense package. The small and lightweight 'kamikaze' weapons are effectively remote-controlled bombs.
Designed by US-based defense contractor AeroVironment, the smart bombs have been designed to destroy tanks and artillery positions. The approved military aid package for Ukraine will be discussed on Wednesday, March 16. Zelenskyy is also expected to address the US on Wednesday. "The Switchblades are likely offered to placate the embattled leader as both Democrats and Republicans continue to oppose his calls for a no-fly zone over fears it would lead to war with Russia," reports Daily Mail.
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What is a Switchblade drone?
Portable, cost-efficient, and easy-to-use, the Switchblade drones are fired from a tube that can be set up in 10 minutes with little training required. The more powerful of the two versions is the Switchblade 600. As per reports, it weighs 50lbs and can hover over a target for 40 minutes before darting at speeds of 115mph, piercing armors, and destroying tanks.
The Switchblade 300, weighing 5.5lbs, is intended to kill people in the open and passengers in a vehicle. It can travel for six miles, hover for 15 minutes, and dive to a target at 100 mph. They fly much faster than the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones that Ukraine has been using to inflict damage on Russia, reports NBC News. The single-use weapons are also cheaper than the Hellfire missiles fired by US Reaper drones. While a Hellfire missile costs $150,000, the Switchblade 300 costs $6,000.
AeroVironment’s Switchblade® 300 Sensor to Shooter Kit enables instantaneous machine-to-machine transfer of target coordinates from Puma™, Raven®, or Wasp® to Switchblade 300 loitering missile system. Learn more: https://t.co/DY4UmH2SUM pic.twitter.com/xLIMjPASdb— AeroVironment (@aerovironment) March 11, 2022
AeroVironment’s Switchblade 600® features an advanced EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control and more than 40 minutes of endurance, delivering an all-in-one RSTA without the need for external ISR assets. Watch video: https://t.co/AxQkiBMpUH pic.twitter.com/tjgbKh1GL5— AeroVironment (@aerovironment) March 15, 2022
"We stand for freedom, and we stand with our allies and sovereign nations in their right to protect their homelands and their very lives when this fundamental right is threatened. Ukraine and our eastern European allies need these solutions now to win against the Russian military and strategically deter future aggression. Our conviction and mission to support our warfighters fuel our purpose at AeroVironment. We stand ready to support you today," reads the statement on the AeroVironment website.
The $1 billion military aid is expected to include anti-armor and anti-air systems, including portable air defenses like Javelins and Stingers. "We're moving urgently to further augment the support to the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country. And I'll have much more to say about this tomorrow about exactly what we're doing in Ukraine," Biden said on Tuesday when the $13.6 billion allotted for Ukraine in the omnibus budget bill was signed.
Zelenskyy said in a recent video address: "The meetings continue, and, I am informed, the positions during the negotiations already sound more realistic. But time is still needed for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine,"
Meanwhile, over 3 million people have fled Ukraine, with over 1.8 million arriving in Poland, according to the United Nations.
This tragedy must stop. pic.twitter.com/9h3EUhWerD— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) March 15, 2022
Info can be a lifeline for those fleeing Ukraine.— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) March 15, 2022
RT to help connect refugees with lifesaving support.
Any other country: https://t.co/BpkhLajtGh pic.twitter.com/qjMkPwsJdg