AeroVironment has received contracts from the US Army Close Combat Weapons Systems Program Executive Office Missiles and Space (PEO MS) for supply of Switchblade tactical missile systems, related equipment and support services.
Having a combined value of $36.7m, the latest orders represent options under an initial contract awarded in support of the army's rapid equipping force (REF) in August 2012.
Working in partnership with its munition subcontractor, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), the company will manufacture and supply both operational and training rounds alongside training, support and rapid delivery in support of the army's ongoing operations.
AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer, Tim Conver, said the surge of demand for Switchblade represents a breakthrough in its transition from development, testing and evaluation to adoption.
''Our team is relentlessly focused on delivering new capabilities that help our customers succeed, and Switchblade is a clear example of our growth thesis working, from innovation to adoption,'' Cover said.
''It's creating a pathway to a compelling new capability for the army, and long-term growth for the company."
AeroVironment senior vice-president and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) business segment general manager, Roy Minson, said that Switchblade is a smart, modern and cost-effective tool for force protection, and protects soldiers in dangerous situations.
''It provides a new and effective way for our forces to respond quickly to threats while reducing or even eliminating collateral damage through its set of unique capabilities,'' Minson said.
Switchblade is a tactical armed, remotely-piloted or autonomously-launched unmanned aerial wehicle, designed to provide troops with a back-packable, non-line-of-sight precision strike capability with minimal collateral effects from stand-off ranges.
With an operational altitude of less than 500ft, the system wirelessly transmits real-time video information of the target to the small UAS ground control unit operator, which in turn, arms the air vehicle to engage and destroy the target.
Image: US soldier prepares Switchblade loitering munition for launch. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.