Beginning within the last few weeks there have been unconfirmed reports that US-supplied 'Switchblade' advanced drones had made their way into the hands of Ukrainian forces after small units were trained on how to operate them by American advisers in a neighboring country.
Now this week the first videos purporting to show the Switchblade loitering munitions, or suicide drones, in action on the battlefield have hit the web. It's the first evidence that the advanced drones manufactured by the Arlington, Virginia based defense contractor AeroVironment are being widely used in combat against Russian forces. Watch below:
In early April it was first revealed that the Pentagon was sending at least 100 of the killer drone systems to Ukraine as part of an initial $800 million arms package. Later reports suggested it could be 1,000 of the small, easily portable drones.
The Pentagon also at the time confirmed it had already trained a "small number" of Ukrainian soldiers in how to operate the Switchblade weapon system.
NBC previously described that "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."
A second video has been uploaded to Facebook this week by Ukraine's Special Operations Forces' social media page. It purports to show a Russian T-72 tank being targeted and hit by a Switchblade...
"A cutting-edge suicide drone equipped with powerful explosives flew right into the tank, inflicting irreparable losses on the enemy. The whole process of destroying the enemy was filmed by a camera located on the killer drone," the Special Operations Forces commentary said in the Tuesday post.
There are two main versions of the drone, with the 600 version being the more advanced and larger of the two variants, which 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."