WASHINGTON (WNCN) – Included in the $800 million of new United States assistance for Ukraine are weapons of various types that are already known — such as the Javelin anti-tank missiles and the Stinger missile that takes down aircraft.
Also included were 100 mysterious “Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems,” according to the White House news release this week.
CBS News reports that the weapon is something called the Switchblade — a unique type of loitering missile that can be aimed to destroy small targets, such as squads or vehicles. The media have also called it a “kamikaze drone.”
The Switchblade is made by AeroVironment Inc., of Simi Valley, California. The weapon was used in Afghanistan and a year ago a $13 million contract was awarded by the Pentagon to purchase more of the unique missiles.
U.S Marines were training with the Switchblade in North Carolina earlier this month.
The Switchblade is not well known.
“I don’t know what a switchblade drone is, but it sounds like it should be going to Ukraine,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said this week, according to CBS News.
The Switchblade was developed to provide small units the ability to carry a short-range drone-type munition mission. The weapon can fit into a soldier’s backpack and can be set up in just a few minutes. It’s only 2 feet long and weighs just 6 pounds.
Once launched, a Switchblade can linger in the air for 15 minutes, providing an aerial view of the enemy — a small bunker, vehicle or a group of troops, for example — back to the soldier.
The Switchblade then can lock onto a target and then move in at high speed — 100 mph — to wipe out the threat.
It also provides a valuable “wave off” option that allows the solider operating it to cancel the munition even as it dives for a kill. That allows a decision up until 4 seconds before impact, cutting down on collateral damage or wrong target selection.
The Switchblade can then be steered to another target or self destruct — because it can not be reused once launched.
Here is a look at the other items included in the $800 million of U.S. assistance for Ukraine
- 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems
- 2,000 Javelin, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems
- 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns
- Over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds
- 25,000 sets of body armor
- 25,000 helmets