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Switchblade: The Drone Giving Ukraine a Big Edge Against Russia

Switchblade Drone
Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

Switchblade: The drone terrorizing Russia on the battlefield –  The formidable Switchblade drone could prove to be a game-changer in the war in Ukraine. In March, the Biden administration announced that it would send 100 Switchblade 300 drones to assist Ukraine against Putin’s war of aggression and terror. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky was initially elated, however, he then said that 100 Switchblade 300s will be too few and he’d rather receive the more powerful Switchblade 600s. While the Ukrainian president’s reaction may seem a bit ungrateful, he is speaking out of desperation and fear for his country.

Now, the Pentagon has revealed that it is sending 600 additional Switchblades to Ukraine bringing the total to 700.

Switchblade design and function

Switchblade drones are transported in a tube which also serves as a launch platform. The tube is set up like a little mortar on the ground. Once the drone leaves the launch tube its wings snap out into operation and the propulsion system activates.

The operator directs it on a path and monitors the orientation of the drone with live High Resolution (HR) streaming video to the Ground Control Unit (GCU). A target is identified and locked onto by the GCU at which point it flies autonomously to its destination.

Switchblade is single-use and therefore categorized as a suicide-class weapon. It also has an extensive loitering time, which identifies it also as a loitering munition. Once locked onto a target the Switchblade has the unique ability to stalk its “prey” for upwards of 10 minutes before it is cut loose on it. If a situation causes a strike to be aborted, the operator can call off the Switchblade and re-target it. The drone has proven that it can also be successfully launched from moving vehicles and even aircraft.

The Switchblade 300 is two feet long and weighs six pounds. It can impact a target at speeds of up to 98 mph and is compatible with GCUs of other military surveillance drones such as the Wasp, Raven, and Puma.

The Switchblade 600 weighs 50 pounds. It is set up in 10 minutes and flies out to 25 miles to loiter for 20 minutes. Its maximum attack speed is 115 mph. Impressively, the Switchblade 600 carries a Javelin warhead giving it the ability to defeat virtually Any Known Armor (AKA). However, it doesn’t carry the rest of the Javelin AT rocket’s configuration.

Anti-tank weapons such as TOWs and Javelin are very destructive, but they have zero loiter time. Raven and Puma have formidable surveillance loiter times but no attack capability. Switchblade brings to the table a surveillance platform with decent loiter times and a deadly strike

The Switchblade’s impact

It turns out that the 100 Switchblade 300 drones the US had at first sent to Ukraine were just the initial supply. Perhaps the U.S. wanted to first see the results first of the Switchblade 300s’ shipment before committing to more drones or Switchblade 600s: never go all or nothing if it can be prevented. The drones are ours to partition rationally or to squander.

The US strategy could be to start by giving Ukraine smaller weapons systems that are faster to move in-country and easier to train soldiers on with a reasonable expectation of lethality to armored targets. Then, bump up the numbers and lethal potential of the drone models until a full contingent of numbers and level of lethality are achieved.

Switchblade Russia Ukraine

Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

Although Ukraine may feel slighted by the number and variant of Switchblade, it continues to regard the United States as its staunchest ally and saving grace in its time of most need.

George Hand is a Master Sergeant US Army (ret) from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. In service, he maintained a high level of proficiency in 6 foreign languages. Post military, George worked as a subcontracter for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the nuclear test site north of Las Vegas Nevada for 16 years. Currently, George works as an Intelligence Analyst and street operative in the fight against human trafficking. A master cabinet-grade woodworker and master photographer, George is a man of diverse interests and broad talents. This first appeared in Sandboxx News. 

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Sandboxx News is a digital and print military media outlet focused on the lives, experiences, and challenges facing today’s service members and America’s defense apparatus. Built on the simple premise that service members and their supporters need a reliable news outlet free of partisan politics and sensationalism, Sandboxx News delivers stories from around the world and insights into the U.S. Military’s past, present, and future– delivered through the lens of real veterans, service members, military spouses, and professional journalists.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Michael c Griffin

    April 21, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    We really need to tone it down about us switchblades ripping Russian armor because Putin has said he will nuke anyone who does. I’m all for sending even more stuff than this but we need to say it is someone else’s and route it in a way that protects the shipments from being blown up

  2. Alex

    April 21, 2022 at 11:19 pm

    We hope that at least a third of these drones will fall into the hands of the people’s militia of Donbass and they will not be destroyed upon delivery.

    • Kody

      April 22, 2022 at 5:55 am

      Why? They already have them as it is

  3. CK

    April 26, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Please Alex, those savages can’t even turn on washing machines, they clean potatoes in toilets, thinking they are sinks.

    How will they ever operate drones? 😀

  4. Alex

    April 29, 2022 at 9:28 am

    If someone wants to know the truth about the civil war in the Donbass, about all the atrocities of the Bandera clean-ups and why Russia was forced to intervene, then it is better to watch films by independent journalists. There are already many such journalists who fight for truth and freedom. For example, a documentary by the German journalist Wilhelm Domcke-Schulz.

    A documentary film about the war crimes of the Bandera Nazis during the period of Russia’s special military operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine is in production. It will be a real information bomb, where the war crimes of Bandera Nazis will be shown and proved.

    The documentary “Remember Odessa” tells how the Bandera Nazis burned Ukrainians alive and other heinous war crimes.

    The documentary “To Live and Die in Donbass” tries to fill this gaping information gap in the West. He looks into the tormented soul of the inhabitants of Donbass, who really want only one thing – to live self-determining according to their own rules and values. Not submitting to foreign forces and ideologies.

    In the east of Ukraine, in the Donbass, a war has been raging since the beginning of 2014. A civil war that claimed more than 15,000 lives over the years, including several hundred children. They had to die, because the national-fascist coup government in Kyiv, funded by the West, trained and militarily heavily armed, would not tolerate any resistance to their illegitimate rule, no matter the cost.

    Therefore, in April 2014, the putschists deployed the Ukrainian army, supported by dozens of right-wing extremist volunteer battalions, and have since bombed city centers, residential areas, schools, hospitals and infrastructure, killing civilians.

    This perennial crime has gone completely unnoticed by the Western public. Politicians and the media avoid this topic and reports about how the devil pours holy water. Because a public discussion about the crimes of the Ukrainian regime would reveal only one thing – with what mass murderers and terrorists the so-called “west of values” in Ukraine has a common language, if only to defend their goals and interests.

    Lend-lease is a commodity loan, and not cheap: for all the ammunition, equipment and food supplied by the United States, many future generations of Ukrainian citizens will pay. Zelensky is driving the country into a debt hole.

  5. CK

    April 29, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Ah, I see your tactic. You add a little shitty first paragraph so it doesn’t detect your duplicate post. Is this what it has come to now, you just posting the same exact post 2, 3, 4, 5 times per article?

    Wow, did they run out of paper in Russia, Alex? You guys can’t print new material? Literally using the same lines, over and over again, and now in duplicate in every post!

    Are you so defeated you can’t even come up with anything new? How sad. Now the idiot is talking about lend-lease at the end of his post, because he literally just copy + pasted it from another thread, with zero relevance to this one.

    Here’s a reminder:

    If someone wanted to know the truth about anything in Ukraine Alex, the last person they would go to is you.

    Paragraphs and paragraphs of bollocks, dubious claims about “independent journalists”, random documentarians, conspiracy theorists, deluded claims that of course, have no backup, lie after lie after lie.

    Classical Kremlin troll approach. Just flood the internet, the comments, the media, with tosh, doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure you write some old nonsense. Make sure to say the claim is supported by some dude in Germany, France, the states. If it’s a “documentary” (usually from youtube) then the better.

    Anything that victimises Russia, always the victim, always the bullied, never the problem. It’s always the Nazis. It’s always some pseudo-historical point.

    Anyone that has had the misfortune to study your “tactics” sees the forest for the trees, the pattern of lies, disinformation, blanketing of random claims, deflection, obfuscation, and other words beyond your vocabulary.

    It’s hopeless Alex. Your lies are as short as your intellect. What a pathetic job, to sit in your government shed, spreading your pathetic, government lies.

    A pathetic job for a truly pathetic man. A better match could not be made in heaven.

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