The Biden administration is considering providing Ukraine with US-made AeroVironment Switchblade miniature-sized loitering munitions, two congressional officials briefed on the matter told NBC News on March16.
The officials told the outlet that the White House is currently considering supplying Ukraine with Switchblades, as part of a new package of military aid. However, they noted that no decisions on the matter have been made, yet.
There are two available variants of the loitering munition, the Switchblade 300 and the 600. The 300 was designed to target personnel and unarmored vehicles. It has a range of 10 kilometers and an endurance of 10 minutes. The larger 600 was designed 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. The miniature kamikaze drones can be programmed to automatically strike targets, and can loiter around their targets until the time is right to strike.
The US have been stepping up its military support for the Kiev government since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine on February 24.
The Switchblade system is known to be in service with the US Special Operations Command. Last year, the UK also invested in the system.
US special operation forces used Switchblade 300 loitering munitions extensively in Syria, not only against ISIS but also against government force.
The Syrians hunted down these munitions with shot guns and hand-held jamming systems. They were even able to capture many of them in an excellent condition using just fine nets. Some of the captured Switchblade munitions were handed over to the Russian military.
A US made “Switchblade” tactical UAV, found in Syria. pic.twitter.com/H6eA1raWJ9
— Tal Inbar (@inbarspace) November 4, 2015
The US will likely end up supplying Ukraine with Switchblade loitering munitions. The system poses a real threat. Nevertheless, the Russian military will likely use the tactics we saw in Syria to neutralize this threat.