An advanced US-made killer drone that acts as a guided 'smart' missile capable of locking in on targets including tanks and artillery from miles away is on the table among options that the White House is considering authorizing to be sent to Ukraine's military to fight the Russian invasion.
The AeroVironment manufactured "Switchblade" drones are already in use by US Special Operations Command and act essentially as "robotic smart bombs" - as in they are one-use only 'kamikaze drones' - but are ultra low priced compared to larger conventional drones in the Pentagon arsenal, with the smaller version of the drone costing as little as $6,000.
No decisions have been made yet, stresses NBC which first reported the potential plan to transfer Switchblade drones to Kiev, which if going through would mark the first publicly acknowledged use of the robotic small drone on a major battlefield. The report notes the Switchblade saw limited use in Afghanistan, but that it wasn't disclosed officially by the Pentagon at the time - only in some media reports.
NBC describes, "The Switchblades are essentially robotic smart bombs, equipped with cameras, guidance systems and explosives. They can be programmed to automatically strike targets miles away, and they can be steered around objectives until the time is right to strike. The company says the 600 can fly for 40 minutes and up to 50 miles."
The 600 version, the more advanced and larger of the two variants, is said to be capable of taking out tanks and armored vehicles, and artillery. Wired magazine has previously described the small drone as a "six-pound foldable mashup of missile and drone."
An animated presentation of the drone's capabilities by the manufacturer AeroVironment:
The report comes just ahead of President Zelensky's virtual address before both chambers of Congress, scheduled for 9am eastern time Wednesday, wherein he's expected to not only push for a West-imposed no-fly zone over Ukraine, but where he's to put pressure on US leadership toward fulfilling of a weapons 'wish list' amid the Russian onslaught.
He's asking for more armed drones, surface-to-air missile systems, including Stingers, and more Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as communications jamming equipment.
Meanwhile, several unconfirmed reports allege that Russia's military is already using "loitering drones" or 'suicidal munitions' against Ukrainian forces since the invasion kicked off 21 days ago.
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The Switchblade being live tested at a Utah proving ground...