ATLANTA, April 28 (UPI) -- AeroVironment has announced a block upgrade to its Switchblade Tactical Missile system for stable and secure encrypted communications.
The upgrade is designated Block 10C.
AeroVironment said the upgrade consists of a digital data link that enables more efficient use of existing frequency bands and significantly reduces the likelihood of signal interception.
It also enables the concurrent operation of multiple Switchblade systems in the same vicinity without signal conflict, provides the opportunity to extend operational ranges using another DDL arbiters, such as AeroVironment's Puma AE unmanned aircraft system, and facilitates the automatic communication of mission plans from one AeroVironment unmanned aircraft system to a Switchblade, also known as sensor-to-shooter operations.
"The new Switchblade Block 10C is the result of close collaboration between our U.S. Army customer and the AeroVironment team," said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. "Working with the Army and other users, we continue to evolve and expand the capabilities of the Switchblade tactical missile system to provide troops with the most reliable and effective force protection solution possible.
"We are already working on future upgrades to this important capability to give our forces an even greater advantage on the battlefield."
The Switchblade tactical missile system was first fielded in 2011 under a series of U.S. Army urgent need requests for a portable weapons system capable of engaging targets beyond line of sight and with minimal collateral damage. It can be remotely piloted through a ground control system or perform autonomously.
Switchblade is man-portable and tube-launched. It has a six-mile radius of operation and a flight endurance of about 10 minutes.
AeroVironment and Ortital ATK, its teammate for advanced warheads, are working together to produce and deliver the upgraded system, AeroVironment said.
AeroVironment announced the upgrade at the Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Atlanta, Ga.