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Switchblade: The Drone Putin Fears (And A Game-Changer for Ukraine?)

Switchblade Drone
Switchblade Drone. Image Credit: Manufacturer Handout.

What makes the Switchblade such a powerful weapon of war for Ukraine? 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.

Switchblade

Switchblade Drone. Image Credit: Industry Handout.

Switchblade Russia Ukraine

Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

Switchblade Ukraine

Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

The 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.

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.

By Almighty God and with honor,

geo sends

George Sand is a Master Sergeant US Army (ret) from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. 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.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Travis R

    May 13, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    I recently learned we are playing chess while putin is playing 3d chess.
    His plan (as I understand it) is to implode our economy. Much the same as Reagan did. So we might want to keep a little jingle in our pockets.

    • stu

      May 14, 2022 at 1:29 pm

      Bin Laden figured that’s what he could do by dragging us into a middle east war.

      We have demonstrated we can do that all on our own.

    • George Mazer

      May 16, 2022 at 9:29 pm

      Our economy is far from being damaged by Putin. COVID and COVID stimulus were far more relevant. Russia’s economy is doing much worse, as it would have to. They’ve still got boatloads of oil and gas money coming in though, but yeah, if Putin had the ability to damage our economy, we wouldn’t have gotten involved in the war. Same reason when China takes Taiwan we’ll probably stay out of it.

    • Dr. Andrew B.

      May 17, 2022 at 7:19 am

      I agree with you. Furthermore, the situation in Ukraine is more complicated than the MSM is portrayed it.

  2. Ken Lawson

    May 14, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    The US is getting rid of the switchblades because the Russians know how to jam them.

    You do realize that Putin is winning? The amount of false propaganda on this site is tunning.

    • George Mazer

      May 16, 2022 at 9:35 pm

      Oh yeah, and on what basis do you say that? All the Russian propaganda you’ve been reading? Putin ain’t shit. He’s used to throwing people out windows and stealing from his own citizens. Russia couldn’t take Afghanistan with the whole Soviet Union, what does he have now that he’s spent 20 years grinding his country into further poverty? Maybe he’ll keep Crimea, for now. He played his cards wrong. He should have waited a year or two for some kind of economic crash, where the West couldn’t afford to get involved. He messed up.

  3. Rosalind Wolczewski

    May 15, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you George Sands for your military service and taking the time to write articles like this. I appreciate these updates as it helps me to know how to pray. May our Almighty God bless and protect you, your family, and all you love and care for. Amen.

  4. George

    May 18, 2022 at 6:39 am

    Russia is like a demented child…..

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