These drones produced by AeroVironment for the U.S. Army will have "kamikaze" capabilities - meaning that the unmanned drone itself will be the bomb. This reminds of me an episode of the Transformers cartoon from 1986 with the Lipoles. The Lipoles were basically bat-like drone Transformers that could transform into kamikaze bombs (click the picture to watch the episode where the Lipoles appear).
The tube-launched Switchblade drone, made by Monrovia, California-based Aerovironment Inc., was secretly sent to Afghanistan for the first time last year. “Under a dozen” were fired, said Army Deputy Product Director William Nichols.
U.S. Army Awards AeroVironment $4.9 Million Contract for Switchblade Agile Munition Systems and Services
September 01 2011
MONROVIA, Calif., Sept. 1, 2011 -- AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) announced that it received a contract on June 29 from the U.S. Army Close Combat Weapons Systems (CCWS), Program Executive Office Missiles and Space (PEO MS). The $4,907,840 contract for the Switchblade agile munition includes engineering services and operational systems for deployment with the U.S. Army.
This award represents the culmination of years of development, testing, demonstrations and customer evaluations. The prototype Switchblade system previously received Safety Confirmation and underwent Military Utility Assessment with the U.S. Army in the fall of 2010. The award is for rapid fielding of this capability to deployed combat forces.
The Switchblade air vehicle launches from a small tube that can be carried in a backpack and transmits live color 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 operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm it and lock its trajectory onto the target. Flying quietly at high speed the Switchblade delivers its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage. With the ability to call off a strike even after the air vehicle is armed, Switchblade provides a level of control not available in other weapon systems.
“The unique capabilities provided by the Switchblade agile munition for standoff engagement, accuracy and controlled effects make it an ideal weapon for today’s fight and for U.S. military forces of the future,” said Bill Nichols, deputy product director at the Army’s Close Combat Weapons Systems project office.
Instead of requiring support from weapon systems controlled by other operating units, operators will be able to use the ground launched Switchblade variant to respond to enemy combatants with precision fire from a significant standoff distance, when and where required.
"Our dedicated team developed this breakthrough solution with a focus on satisfying important customer needs,” said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “Just as our small unmanned aircraft systems provide game-changing reconnaissance capabilities to ground forces, Switchblade provides a revolutionary rapid strike capability to protect our troops and give them a valuable new advantage on the battlefield.”
About AeroVironment’s Small UAS
Raven®, Wasp and Puma comprise AeroVironment’s Family of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Operating with a common ground control system (GCS), this Family of Systems provides increased capability to the warfighter that can give ground commanders the option of selecting the appropriate aircraft based on the type of mission to be performed. This increased capability has the potential to provide significant force protection and force multiplication benefits to small tactical units. AeroVironment’s UAS logistics operation supports systems deployed worldwide to ensure a consistently high level of operational readiness. AeroVironment has delivered thousands of new and replacement small unmanned air vehicles. International purchasers of AeroVironment’s small UAS include the armed forces of Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Norway, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Australia.