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Ukrainian soldiers train in US to use Switchblade loitering munition also called suicide drone

The United States has confirmed the supply of Switchblade loitering munitions to Ukraine. Washington is also training Ukrainian servicemen to operate the kamikaze drones. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said US specialists had trained a small group of Ukrainian soldiers who arrived at the US back in autumn to operate the drones, adding that they will be able to return home and train other Ukrainian soldiers.
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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Isiah Enriquez, a native of Lubbock, Texas, and a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment (1/2), 2d Marine Division (2d MARDIV), launches a Switchblade Drone during a training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 7, 2021. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

The Switchblade 300 is a loitering munition also called a suicide drone produced by the American company AeroVironment. The US. has agreed to send 100 Switchblade unmanned systems, to the Ukrainians including the Switchblade 300 and 600. 

The Switchblade 300 is 600-mm long and weighs 2.5 kg. It has two pairs of planes and a pair of keels that unfold in the flight. It can bed used to destroy troops or light tactical vehicles. A day and night camera guides the drone to the target. The destruction of the Switchblade is equal to a 40 mm grenade. The drone develops a speed of 160 km/h and has a range of 10 km. Its small batteries ensure a 15-minute flight.

The Switchblade 600 can be used to destroy armored vehicles. It has a weight of 23 kg but can be carried by one soldier and can be ready to use in less than 10 min. The Switchblade 600 can fly at a maximum range of 40 km. The drone is equipped with a Javelin anti-tank missile warhead able to neutralize heavy armored vehicles or tanks. 

“The two-way radio communications of Switchblade 300 are vulnerable to disturbances. Powerful Russian electronic warfare can jam its radio channels and control,” the expert said. In this case, the drone self-destructs.

“Switchblade is mostly made of plastic and it is difficult for radars to detect it. However, Pantsir-S has an optical channel,” the expert said. The plastic Switchblade can fall apart in case of a nearby explosion of a small-caliber shell.

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