Military Review

Loitering ammunition AeroVironment Switchblade: threat and protection

64

Working with Switchblade 300 UAV


As part of the next package of military assistance, the United States plans to transfer to Ukraine loitering ammunition of the AeroVironment Switchblade series. So far, we are talking about a hundred Switchblade 300 products that can be shipped to the Ukrainian army in the coming weeks. On this weapon certain hopes are placed, but they may not come true. The Russian army is quite capable of fighting Switchblade ammunition with the help of existing systems and means.

Weapons and their operators


The first ammunition of the line, Switchblade 300, was developed by AeroVironment at the turn of the two thousandth and tenth years. In 2010-11 the product passed all the necessary tests, after which the first orders for mass production appeared in the interests of the US armed forces. According to known data, light loitering ammunition was purchased by the ground forces, special operations forces and the Marine Corps.

At the end of the tenth years, the development of a larger Switchblade 600 ammunition with increased flight and combat characteristics was underway. All work was completed by the end of 2020, and in the spring of 2021, the first contract for such equipment appeared. The launch customer was the Navy; Switchblade 600 entered service with their special forces. Orders are expected from other structures that also need a relatively light percussion weapon.


Switchblade 300 when unfolding planes

A year ago it became known about the signing of the first export contract. The British Ministry of Defense became the customer for it. The types of ammunition desired, quantity and delivery time were not disclosed. The transfer of finished products has not yet been reported.

A few days ago, the United States announced the formation of a new military aid package for Ukraine. In order to protect against the “Russian attack”, they plan to transfer various weapons to it, incl. loitering ammunition. As soon became known, as part of this package, it is proposed to ship 100 Switchblade 300 products. Apparently, weapons will be taken from the warehouses of their own army.

Technical aspects


Loitering ammunition Switchblade 300 was created as a portable additional weapon for rifle units. An easy-to-use product was supposed to provide reconnaissance and defeat detected targets within a radius of several kilometers. Specific requirements for the product required the use of original solutions and led to the formation of a characteristic appearance.


Launch preparation

Switchblade 300 is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a length of about 600 mm and a weight of approx. 2,5 kg. It has an elongated fuselage of variable section, on which two pairs of planes and a pair of keels are fixed, which are laid out in flight. In the bow there are day and night cameras for target search and guidance, as well as remote control devices. Behind them is a warhead with power at the level of a 40-mm grenade.

The flight is carried out with the help of an electric motor. Cruising speed - 100 km / h, short-term acceleration up to 160 km / h is possible. Small-sized batteries allow you to stay in the air for only 15 minutes. Range - up to 10 km.

The Switchblade 300 is controlled using a specially designed operator console or from a unified UAV station developed by AeroVironment. In both cases, the operator receives a picture and telemetry, and also transmits commands. The operator controls the flight, target selection and its destruction. If necessary, he can blow up the device in the air.

The ammunition is supplied in a compact transport and launch container. The product is ejected with compressed air. The container can be used on its own or as part of a multi-cell launcher. Preparation for launch takes no more than a few minutes.


Product start

The Switchblade 600 loitering ammunition has a similar design, but is much larger and heavier. By increasing the launch weight to 23 kg, it was possible to increase the warhead and improve flight performance. However, at the same time, the mobility of the complex suffered - unlike the previous model, the operator cannot carry multiple ammunition.

Switchblade 600 gets a movable optics unit in two planes. A more powerful warhead has been developed, designed to hit various targets, incl. armored vehicles. A more advanced control system with improved noise immunity and other functions is used.

A larger and more powerful motor has been introduced, giving a cruising speed of more than 110 km / h with the ability to accelerate to 185 km / h. The range has been increased to 40 km, and the flight duration to 40 minutes.

For the Switchblade 600, special launchers for one or more ammunition have been developed. They can be used with various land and surface platforms. In particular, the US Navy puts such devices on special forces boats.


The operator controls the flight

Advantages and disadvantages


Loitering ammunition of the Switchblade line has a number of strengths and advantages that can ensure the effective implementation of the assigned combat missions. At the same time, they are not without flaws that reduce their real potential. In addition, various means of defense can be used against such weapons, which will also negatively affect their use.

Both drones are quite easy to operate and manage. Transportation and preparation for work is not difficult. Products are capable of searching for targets day and night and immediately hit them. A flight duration of at least 15 minutes and a range of 10 km or more seriously increase the combat potential of a rifle unit. Using one or another device, the operator can hit manpower, unprotected or armored vehicles.

At the same time, the lighter Switchblade 300 carries a warhead of limited power, while the Switchblade 600 needs transport to carry it. In addition, both munitions rely on two-way radio communication, which makes them vulnerable to interference. For reconnaissance and guidance, only optical means are used, which can also be suppressed.

Defense issues


In the light of recent News the issue of interception of loitering ammunition becomes relevant, incl. American products Switchblade. At the same time, there is every reason to believe that our army has the means and systems to protect against such a threat.

Loitering ammunition AeroVironment Switchblade: threat and protection

Loitering ammunition Switchblade 600 in flight configuration

The first echelon of defense against loitering ammunition is electronic warfare. Timely detection and suppression of radio channels for data exchange and control makes it impossible for the further operation of the strike complex. The launched ammunition is likely to self-destruct in flight.

In theory, it is possible to disable the ammunition with the help of a combat laser. Switchblade and other products of this class are guided by optical means. A laser beam of sufficient power can disable the optics, frustrating further reconnaissance and attack. However, systems of this class are not yet available in our military air defense.

Switchblade products are made primarily from plastics with a minimum of metal parts. This makes it difficult for radar to detect them. However, modern domestic anti-aircraft systems, such as Pantsir-S1, also have an optical detection and tracking channel. Practice shows that with the help of cameras and thermal imagers, they are able to detect drones and aim weapons at them.

The plastic construction should not be distinguished by high strength and stability. Apparently, it can be completely destroyed with a single small-caliber projectile or several fragments of anti-aircraft missile warheads. The already mentioned "Pantsir-S1" has a rocket and cannon armament and is capable of exerting any required impact.


Launching a heavy product

Thus, a loitering munition of the Switchblade type, or any other UAV of this kind, will consistently face several difficulties. Moving towards the target, observing or falling on the target, he must maintain contact with the operator, not be detected by radars or optics, and also not be fired upon or escape from the attack of missiles or guns. The probability of fulfilling all these conditions is small and drastically reduces the chances of making a successful strike.

In the context of the current Special Operation, other characteristic factors should be taken into account. Thus, the United States plans to transfer to Ukraine only a hundred loitering ammunition, which is not enough for mass use in all sectors of the front. In addition, delivered items may be destroyed during transport or storage, as has been the case with other imported weapons in the recent past. And even admission to the units does not guarantee success - the Ukrainian formations, retreating, abandon the most modern foreign weapons.

Questionable benefit


In general, the Switchblade family of loitering ammunition is an interesting modern development with certain positive qualities. Due to interesting technical solutions, operation is simplified and combat missions are ensured. However, such products are not "absolute weapons". You can protect yourself from them, and special means are not required for this.

Thus, a curious situation arises. The United States has not yet started shipping its loitering ammunition to Ukraine, and the timing of this is unknown. However, it is clear that such deliveries will not produce real results. A new weapon can be destroyed in the rear or shot down when trying to use it, and the probability of its successful use tends to zero.
Author:
Photos used:
US Department of Defense, AeriVironment Inc.
64 comments
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  1. navycat777
    navycat777 22 March 2022 04: 35
    +14
    A serious weapon for using DRGs against small supply columns or single vehicles
    1. Lech from Android.
      Lech from Android. 22 March 2022 04: 44
      +3
      Hopes are also pinned on Javelins and Stingers ... now another lotion of the Pentagon.
      Most likely, the Americans want to see how realistically this weapon will work against the Russian army.
      I think we need to trophy this delivery and send it back to the USA to local freedom fighters blacks, let them frolic ... or pro-Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria ... anywhere where you can put their own military products on the Americans' heads.
      1. riwas
        riwas 22 March 2022 07: 26
        +2
        I suppose we need to trophy this delivery and send it back to the USA to local freedom fighters for blacks, let them frolic ... or pro-Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria ...

        No, first of all, the trophies must be given to our designers - maybe they will find something useful for their developments.
        1. NIKN
          NIKN 22 March 2022 11: 15
          -1
          Quote: riwas
          maybe they will find something useful for their developments.

          We have already created a similar device. But there is something to learn, more was sawn on this program than ours spent on a dagger, but is it necessary?
      2. AlexeyEg
        AlexeyEg 16 May 2022 16: 43
        -1
        Yes, yes, of course . Everyone misses only one point, this rocket is light, because all brains are on a minimum number of chips. Communication-video matrix-control drives What about Russian nanolithography? We can't send a racket into the air with a suitcase of electronics on our back, can we?
    2. Mister X
      Mister X 22 March 2022 11: 47
      +3
      Quote from: navycat777
      Serious weapon for the use of DRG

      hi
      Not suitable for DRG.

      Product is ejected with compressed air

      This is a big disadvantage of the product.
      You need to carry a compressor, or at least gas cylinders.
      Possibly a 12 liter diving tank.
      What saboteur will drag all this economy?
      1. VSO-396
        VSO-396 24 March 2022 04: 18
        -1
        Come on, and you can pump it up with a hand pump. And optimism is a bad thing in combat. A month ago, "experts" here talked about Javelins as well, saying that our tanks are not afraid ...
        1. Mister X
          Mister X 24 March 2022 07: 44
          +1
          Quote: VSO-396
          Come on, and you can pump up with a hand pump

          Can a paintball marker be inflated with a hand pump?
          1. VSO-396
            VSO-396 25 March 2022 04: 48
            -1
            I can't say I didn't play it.
            And this garbage, as I understand it, the main thing is to throw it up a couple of meters. Then he himself, on an electric motor.
            1. Mister X
              Mister X 25 March 2022 08: 40
              +1
              Quote: VSO-396
              as I understand it, the main thing is to throw it up a couple of meters

              You understand correctly.
              Since we are talking about military pneumatics, let's recall the FN 303 non-lethal weapon.
              The weight of the projectile is about 9 grams, a 0,4 liter cylinder (pressure 3000 psi) is used, weighing 450 grams.
              Article about FN 303
              https://topwar.ru/152626-fn-303-gumannoe-oruzhie-ot-fn-herstal-chast-1.html

              The Switchblade 300 drone weighs significantly more.
              Therefore, the capacity of the cylinder should be larger.
              To have enough to launch at least those 6 drones from the container (Multipack Launcher).
              1. VSO-396
                VSO-396 27 March 2022 05: 55
                -1
                3000 psi is about 200 atm., monstrous pressure. To eject a drone, 2-3 atm is enough - the pressure in the bicycle chamber.
                1. Mister X
                  Mister X 27 March 2022 08: 28
                  +1
                  Quote: VSO-396
                  3000 psi is about 200 atm

                  This is in order to launch a projectile weighing 9 grams at 50 meters.
                  Switchblade 300 weighs 2,5 kg.

                  By the way, the manufacturer is ready to send its systems to Ukraine
  2. kytx
    kytx 22 March 2022 04: 47
    +8
    The shell from the cannon will not knock him down even if he finds it :(
    You need something small.
    1. Lech from Android.
      Lech from Android. 22 March 2022 04: 59
      -9
      The shell from the cannon will not knock him down even if he finds it :(

      Buckshot will easily bring down.
      The main thing is to determine the direction, height, range, speed of the product in time and correctly.
      1. kytx
        kytx 22 March 2022 05: 05
        +6
        Does the shell have shrapnel ammunition with a remote detonation for a cannon?
        1. Lech from Android.
          Lech from Android. 22 March 2022 05: 21
          -9
          Does the shell have shrapnel ammunition with a remote detonation for a cannon?

          I don’t know ... there are developments, but I don’t know what next. what
          1. kytx
            kytx 22 March 2022 05: 42
            +7
            no.
            And you can’t really stuff anything into a 30mm caliber.
            And he still has to be programmed from the calculator.

            EW only.
            1. Lech from Android.
              Lech from Android. 22 March 2022 06: 01
              -4
              no.

              Do not write anything without knowing ... it smacks of lies.
              Constructor "Shell": the complex was finalized to combat mini-drones

              https://tass.ru/interviews/7623815
              1. kytx
                kytx 22 March 2022 06: 06
                +5
                Familiarized.
                Well, where is there about a projectile with remote detonation?
                1. Lech from Android.
                  Lech from Android. 22 March 2022 07: 06
                  -3
                  Well, where is there about a projectile with remote detonation?

                  Only a small-sized rocket ... not a word about guns, which is why I say that I don’t know ... maybe you are more knowledgeable?
                  Somehow Khmeimim is protected from small-sized UAVs. what
                  1. kytx
                    kytx 22 March 2022 07: 43
                    +1
                    Heimim is tightly covered by electronic warfare and they do not spare missiles.
            2. Nikolaevich I
              Nikolaevich I 22 March 2022 06: 54
              +4
              Quote: kytx
              EW only.

              A very "unreliable" tool!
            3. riwas
              riwas 22 March 2022 07: 28
              +3
              EW only.

              Not only. Ordinary aerosol curtains from grenade launchers.
              1. kytx
                kytx 22 March 2022 07: 59
                +5
                And how to determine the moment when to put the veil?
                1. riwas
                  riwas 22 March 2022 08: 02
                  +2
                  And how is it put against ATGMs? And he has a lot more speed.
                  1. kytx
                    kytx 22 March 2022 08: 16
                    +4
                    ATGM laser shines. There are also launch warning systems. Switchblade doesn't have that. So pass.
                    1. sen
                      sen 22 March 2022 12: 46
                      +1
                      There are also launch warning systems.

                      There should be radar stations, observers, who, if detected, transmit an alarm signal, but so far, of course, we don’t have this, we need to organize it.
                      In general, a special short-range anti-aircraft defense vehicle is needed to protect against ATGMs, aviation missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and loitering ammunition with a range of up to 3 km.
            4. Blackgrifon
              Blackgrifon 22 March 2022 22: 40
              0
              Quote: kytx
              EW only

              And stay out of touch? This contraption may well be used against KShM - and it is in this vein that it is especially dangerous.
          2. badavim
            badavim 9 June 2022 16: 40
            0
            We have a "Derivation" in development with a 57 mm cannon and ammunition with remote detonation, the very thing, as usual, is only being tested.
        2. Nikolaevich I
          Nikolaevich I 22 March 2022 07: 08
          0
          Quote: kytx
          Does the shell have shrapnel ammunition with a remote detonation for a cannon?

          "Pantsir" does not yet have ... in aviation there is ...

          9-A-1611
          1. kytx
            kytx 22 March 2022 07: 53
            -1
            It seems to be suitable for airforce, if you believe the airforce. Only now I don’t know if there is a programmable fuse in it.
            1. Nikolaevich I
              Nikolaevich I 22 March 2022 08: 03
              +1
              Quote: kytx
              But is there a programmable fuse in it ...

              Unfortunately no ! Remote... But there is a reason to work on it! wink And so ... I think that in the current "primitive state" this projectile can be tried ... and think about the results!
              1. kytx
                kytx 22 March 2022 08: 22
                +1
                Bofors has such a gun for infantry fighting vehicles, the projectile is programmed in the chamber. But... 45mm.
                1. Nikolaevich I
                  Nikolaevich I 22 March 2022 09: 31
                  0
                  Quote: kytx
                  Bofors has such a gun for infantry fighting vehicles, the projectile is programmed in the chamber. But... 45mm.

                  40 mm ... "Barrel" programming systems are now promising ... Currently, "programmable" 35,30-mm shells are being developed and tested, both in NATO and in Russia ...
            2. sen
              sen 22 March 2022 12: 55
              +2
              Shot weight 9-A-1611 - 826 gr., Projectile - 386 gr., Length - 285 mm
              28 ready-made submunitions weighing 3.5 grams.
              The principle of operation of the projectile is as follows:
              After the shot, after 1.2-1.5 seconds, the bottom expelling charge is triggered, which pushes out the striking elements. Since the speed of the projectile is about 900 m / s, you need to add to it the speed obtained from the operation of the expelling charge (50 m / s) and the speed of the aircraft from which the shot was fired, it turns out that the projectile will work at a distance of 1200-1400 meters from the target. A cloud is formed of 28 drop-shaped submunitions, stabilized in flight by rotation. The projectile can be equipped with a remote fuse.
              https://zen.yandex.ru/media/armsblog/30-mm-rossiiskii-snariad-vozdushnogo-podryva-5bccb7c8550f6f00ab7afc2d
          2. tank64rus
            tank64rus 22 March 2022 17: 10
            -1
            Equip the BMPT and Shilka, let them work.
  3. Thrifty
    Thrifty 22 March 2022 05: 28
    +3
    Cyril, there is no day or night camera, these are the camera operating modes !!! They depend on the type of camera matrix capable of operating in a certain part of the spectrum! Otherwise, a "twilight camera" or "midnight camera" will soon appear ...
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 22 March 2022 07: 03
      0
      Quote: Thrifty
      And then there will soon be a "twilight camera", or a "midnight camera" ...

      No, but what? There is also ... optoelectronic seeker, photoelectronic seeker (China) ...
      Or ... "an optoelectronic seeker operating near the far infrared region with the possibility of using it day and night, as well as a laser seeker without switching modes" ...
  4. riwas
    riwas 22 March 2022 07: 37
    +1
    At VO, our developments for the use of UAVs against enemy drones were discussed. A reason to try them in a real battle.
  5. Odu1
    Odu1 22 March 2022 08: 17
    0
    Why do we have such x..and no???
    1. VSO-396
      VSO-396 24 March 2022 04: 23
      0
      Ask Chubais.
  6. APASUS
    APASUS 22 March 2022 09: 35
    +3
    So you need to turn to China and buy a batch from him
    1. Alexfly
      Alexfly 22 March 2022 17: 39
      -1
      Yes, it’s high time to burn everything with Pinocchio before the offensive of the troops .. The factories in Mariupol are definitely not subject to restoration anyway, what’s the point of risking people ... The Nazis have a one-way ticket ..
      1. APASUS
        APASUS 23 March 2022 13: 36
        0
        Quote: AlexFly
        Yes, it’s high time to burn everything with Pinocchio before the offensive of the troops .. The factories in Mariupol are definitely not subject to restoration anyway, what’s the point of risking people ... The Nazis have a one-way ticket ..

        This is not to burn out, but in order to conduct point battles in urban areas
        1. Alexfly
          Alexfly 23 March 2022 18: 16
          0
          No, no, just burn ....
  7. Disant
    Disant 22 March 2022 09: 40
    0
    1) it's time to introduce full-time positions of a drone-killer and reconnaissance drone-thrower in the infantry squad.
    give them a drone-piercing gun and a couple of drones like Mavericks
    2) to give birth and equip each infantry squad with regular thermal imagers.
    1. Vladimir 290
      Vladimir 290 22 March 2022 13: 20
      +2
      It would be nice also with light imperial walkers
      1. Disant
        Disant 22 March 2022 18: 09
        -1
        fighters from Donbass are constantly asking volunteers to bring drones - buzzers are constantly hanging in the air
        exactly the same drones work from the back of the front, so a 400-meter drone strike is quite appropriate.
        thermal imagers on sale. everything is real.
  8. steelmaker
    steelmaker 22 March 2022 09: 40
    0
    Isn't it easier to prevent deliveries or destroy them upon delivery to the place? How then to deal with these weapons? In 2014, they could have passed this Ukraine in a victorious march, but now we are fighting. Have you thought about moving forward?
    1. Vladimir 290
      Vladimir 290 22 March 2022 13: 22
      0
      At 14 they could not, there were no reserves, weak import substitution and food security.
  9. Falcon iba
    Falcon iba 22 March 2022 15: 24
    -3
    To issue double-barreled shotguns with duck shot to combat guards in places of probable use.
    1. VSO-396
      VSO-396 24 March 2022 04: 30
      -1
      The fighter will not have time to react to a thing falling silently at a speed of 100 m / s!
  10. Alexfly
    Alexfly 22 March 2022 17: 37
    +1
    Ukraine is used as a testing ground. In this case, in order to develop tactics against the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, one must be an idiot not to take advantage of this. Wall to wall times are running out. Now pricked and forgotten. The anti-tank weapons currently in use are an example of this.
  11. kova1967
    kova1967 22 March 2022 18: 23
    -1
    Interesting! Maybe ours will grab a few products and study. Maybe our work already has.
    1. Monar
      Monar 23 March 2022 00: 44
      -1
      "Lancet".
  12. Monar
    Monar 23 March 2022 00: 39
    0
    Question for the experts. For radar, the target is difficult. For optics ... I haven’t heard about automatic detection and recognition.
    But in terms of acoustics, someone catches these rumblers?
    1. VSO-396
      VSO-396 24 March 2022 04: 26
      -1
      The electric motor is almost silent.
  13. JPD
    JPD 28 March 2022 09: 20
    0
    One gets the impression that soon most US startups and firms will be occupied only with military orders, which requires very small financial and technological resources ... so the issue of the world gendarme is becoming more and more relevant.
  14. Aist_M
    Aist_M April 24 2022 11: 24
    -1
    I read the news and I get the impression that Russia came out with spears from the jungle against the Spanish galleon. In each article - we will throw stones at them on the outskirts!
    Maybe there is, like the Balts have some kind of electromagnetic guns? What cover other than slogans?
  15. max91
    max91 1 May 2022 17: 17
    0
    This weapon can be used in some cases, but not everywhere. Russia conducts military operations in a completely different way. This took place in Iraq, but not in Ukraine. Even in Syria, this did not pass. Moreover, as always, the Americans again overestimate the performance characteristics, 2.3 kg and 23 kg are completely useful weight.
  16. max91
    max91 1 May 2022 17: 29
    0
    Quote: Lech from Android.
    The shell from the cannon will not knock him down even if he finds it :(

    Buckshot will easily bring down.
    The main thing is to determine the direction, height, range, speed of the product in time and correctly.

    Lech, now there are four small rockets in one rocket tube. Specially created for loitering ammunition. Tested in Syria as a standard ammunition.
  17. E B
    E B 6 May 2022 01: 20
    0
    the best use when capturing in the form of a trophy is to hit the Polish transshipment base Rzeszów - so that you know how to stuff the outskirts with weapons, I hope it will go then figure out who hit
  18. Igor K
    Igor K 15 May 2022 22: 49
    0
    Most likely, the solution to the issue with such ammunition lies in the plane of the electronic warfare forces:
    1. Detection of the signature of the operation of the ammunition (video channel, control channel).
    2. Jamming or interception of control (as an option undermining in the air).
  19. The comment was deleted.
  20. Trunk
    Trunk 17 June 2022 04: 16
    0
    The batch is trial and with good results they will send more. Lightweight option for combating DRGs and for working in densely built areas. EW support on a permanent basis is not everywhere with ours, so the Americans will test out such a possibility of striking.