Loitering munitions system gets go-ahead

Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM

MONROVIA, Calif., Feb. 16 (UPI) -- AeroVironment Inc. reports the U.S. Air Force has given it a contract extension to produce operational units of the Switchblade loitering munitions system.

The Switchblade is an armed, miniature unmanned aerial vehicle that can strike targets from stand-off distances.

It is launched from a small tube carried in a backpack and transmits images to a ground control unit. Personnel operating it can command the vehicle to arm its munitions payload and attack.

Switchblade has a range of more than 3 miles, an operational altitude of less than 500 feet, and a speed of between 63-99 mph.

In addition to producing operational Switchblades, AeroVironment will supply engineering services and operational training unit.

The company will conduct its work in collaboration with ATK, the company's munitions subcontractor.

"This order is another step on the path toward the broader adoption of Switchblade to protect our troops," said Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment.

"ATK is an outstanding partner whose expertise and can-do spirit are helping us refine Switchblade into a practical and affordable new solution for force protection and force multiplication."

The contract is worth more than $4.16 million.

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