The Switchblade is fitted with a 40mm warhead. (AeroVironment)
AeroVironment Inc., Monrovia, Calif., has won a $29 million, non-competitive contract to deliver the Switchblade lethal miniature aerial munition systems (LMAMS) to the Army. A 6-pound backpack device fitted with a 40mm warhead, the Switchblade combines the attributes of a scout drone and artillery shell, and is able to reconnoiter a target before striking. The Army deployed 75 in Afghanistan in late 2012 where theater commanders appreciated being able to deliver firepower while minimizing collateral damage, experts told C4ISR & Networks.
The AeroVironment system was selected over the Maveric by Prioria Robotics, which has a 30-minute endurance versus 10 minutes for the Switchblade, according to Prioria. And Textron Defense Systems says its proposed BattleHawk can be tied to ground sensors.
Meanwhile, some analysts say that while useful, the LMAMS is expensive compared with regular artillery rounds, and therefore is unlikely to be procured in substantial quantities.