The Russian military has reputedly captured its first AeroVironment Switchblade 300 loitering munition, made and supplied by the US, from Kiev forces.
On May 26, photos showing the loitering munition, that was captured near an unspecified front in the Donbass region, surfaced online. The munition was slightly damaged, most likely because it crashed as a result of a technical failure, machinegun fire or electronic jamming.
Russian sources said that the loitering munition seen in the photo was only one of several which were recently captured by the Russian military.
The Switchblade 300 was designed to target personnel and unarmored vehicles. It has a range of 10 kilometers and an endurance of 10 minutes. AeroVironment developed a larger loitering munition, the Switchblade 600, to destroy armored vehicles, like battle tanks. This version has a range of 80 kilometers and an endurance of up to 20 minutes. Both the Switchblade 300 and 600 are equipped with optical guidance systems.
In an initial response to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, the US pledged to supply Kiev forces with more than 100 Switchblade 300 and 600 systems.
The first documented use of the Switchblade by Kiev forces was on May 6, when one such munition failed to hit its target and crashed in an empty field in an unspecified part of Donbass.
So far, Switchblade 300 loitering munitions had no real impact on the battle in Donbass. The larger and more capable Switchblade 600 is yet to be spotted with Kiev forces.
It’s worth noting that the US recently pledged to arm Kiev forces with an even larger loitering munition dubbed the Phoenix Ghost. The previously-unknown system was developed by Aevex Aerospace. It is equipped with a night-capable optical guidance system and has an endurance of up to six hours. Kiev forces will receive at least 121 loitering munition of this type.
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