AeroVironment has been awarded contracts for delivery of additional Switchblade tactical missile systems, ancillary equipment and support services to the US Army.
Awarded by the US Army Close Combat Weapons Systems Program Executive Office Missiles and Space (PEO MS), the combined $15.8m contracts represent options under an initial contract awarded in support of the Army's Rapid Equipping Force (REF) in August 2012.
Working in collaboration with its munition subcontractor, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), the company will manufacture and supply Switchblade operational and training rounds along with training and support services for ongoing army operations.
AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer, Tim Conver, said the borrowing of innovative new solutions within the Department of Defense (DoD) is becoming difficult in the exisiting budget constrained environment.
''These follow-on procurements of Switchblade systems demonstrate our customer's confidence in this unique capability and the persistence required for the successful adoption and deployment of innovative solutions,'' Conver said.
AeroVironment unmanned aircraft systems business segment senior vice-president and general manager, Roy Minson, said: ''Switchblade is the first smart loitering weapon, giving our troops a new force protection capability that can deliver precision effects kilometres away with in-flight retargeting, target verification and pinpoint delivery, all resulting in little or no collateral effects.''
Switchblade is a tactical armed, remotely-piloted or autonomously launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) 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, Switchblade wirelessly transmits real-time video information of the target to the small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) ground control unit operator, which in turn, arms the air vehicle to engage and destroy the target.
Featuring an intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR) package, the UAV also supports beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) operations.
Image: a US soldier prepares to launch Switchblade loitering munition. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.