AeroVironment awarded USAF Switchblade order
AeroVironment has announced that it has received an order from the United States Air Force (USAF) for Switchblade loitering munition systems and services. The company announced the extension order, worth $4,167,777, on 15 February 2012.
The order is an extension to an existing contract, and includes engineering services, operational Switchblade systems and operator training. AeroVironment will work with ATK, its munition subcontractor, to produce and deliver the systems.
AeroVironment also announced that it performed a successful series of live fire demonstrations for multiple US government customers at a military facility in December 2011. The daytime and nighttime demonstrations further illustrated the unique capabilities of the Switchblade system to neutralise threats from a stand-off distance in a variety of operating environments.
The Switchblade loitering munition system launches from a small tube that can be carried in a backpack and transmits live colour and infrared video wirelessly for display on AeroVironment’s standard small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) ground control unit. Upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the system operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm its payload and lock its trajectory onto the target. Switchblade flies quietly at high speed and delivers the effects of its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage. The operator can call off a strike even after the Switchblade system is armed, providing a level of control not available in other weapon systems.
Instead of requiring support from weapon systems controlled by other operating units, troops can use the ground launched Switchblade variant to respond to enemy combatants with precision fire from a significant standoff distance, when and where required, representing a valuable new force protection capability.
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