AeroVironment, a manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems, has been awarded a $64.6m contract by the US Army to procure Switchblade 300 loitering missile systems. The contract includes foreign military sales to two allied nations, expanding AeroVironment‘s international scope.
The US Army Tactical Aviation and Ground Munitions (TAGM) project office awarded the additional funding on 24 March, bringing the total funded amount of Switchblade systems under the original US Army contract to $231,331,651. The contract will be managed by the US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, with the delivery of the systems scheduled for July 2024.
The Switchblade 300 loitering missile system has been in use by the US Army for more than a decade, providing real-time ISR and precision strike support on battlefields in Ukraine. The system is ideal for use against beyond-line-of-sight targets and was approved for use by Ukraine and other nations after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022.
“Switchblade 300 continues to be a critical weapon in the armed forces of Ukraine’s unmanned systems arsenal,” said Brett Hush, AeroVironment’s vice president and product line general manager for Tactical Missile Systems.
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This new contract demonstrates the global demand for production-ready, combat-proven Switchblade 300 missile systems. We’re honoured that Switchblade 300 continues to support the US military and our allies.”
When attacking targets, the operator can provide real-time video, GPS coordinates, and wave-off capabilities.
Harry Boneham, an aerospace, defence, and security analyst at GlobalData, provided his take on the effectiveness of the Switchblade in Ukraine, “The Switchblade has been effectual in Ukraine in localized strike actions, and also potentially in suppression of enemy air defences and destruction of enemy air defence missions.”
Last year, AeroVironment received contracts from the US, UK, and Lithuania to procure the Switchblade 300 and 600 drones. This year, there has been speculation that Taiwan plans to purchase 100 AeroVironment Switchblade drones in 2024 for the Taiwanese special forces amidst a growing threat from China.
North America is expected to be the second-largest market for loitering munitions, with a cumulative spending of $653m over the forecast period. The acquisition of loitering munitions is mainly driven by the US’s procurement of man-portable and air-launched suicide drones capable of engaging targets at land and sea, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Military UAV Market 2022-2032” report.
This contract award follows an August 2022 contract modification for additional funding by the US Army to procure Switchblade 300 loitering missile systems. With this latest award, AeroVironment continues demonstrating its commitment to providing unmanned aircraft systems to support the US Army’s and its allies’ worldwide missions.
Recently, AeroVironment filed solid financial results in their third quarter for 2023, reporting third-quarter revenue of $134.4m, up 49% year-over-year.