AeroVironment has been awarded a cost plus fixed-fee contract and options by the US Army for Switchblade tactical missile system support services.

Awarded by the US Army Close-Combat Weapons Systems office, the $4.3m agreement increases the value of an existing contract to $63.8m.

In addition, the $7.1m option means the amount exercised by options is now $38.3m, increasing the total contract ceiling to $102.1m.

"Wherever our troops operate, they deserve to be equipped with the most effective, practical tools that protect and empower them."

AeroVironment senior vice-president and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) business segment general manager Roy Minson said: "Switchblade is a game-changing capability that continues to protect American troops and give them major advantages on the battlefield.

"Switchblade enables our forces to work within the rules of engagement to neutralise lethal threats through its unique portability, precision, rapid deployment and collateral damage avoidance capabilities.

"Wherever our troops operate, they deserve to be equipped with the most effective, practical tools that protect and empower them. Switchblade has proven itself up to the task."

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Switchblade is a tactical-armed, remotely piloted or autonomously launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and is designed to provide troops with a back-packable, non line-of-sight precision strike capability with minimal collateral effects from standoff ranges.

Featuring an intelligence, surveillance-reconnaissance package, the UAV also supports beyond line-of-sight operations.

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 arms the air vehicle to engage and destroy the target.

Defence Technology