U.S. Army Orders Attack UAV That Fits In a Backpack

The $49 million “Switchblade” aircraft launches from a small tube and is controlled from a small unmanned aircraft system ground control unit.
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The U.S. Army has ordered an armed, unmanned aerial vehicle produced by AeroVironment Inc. that can be carried in a backpack and which transmits live color video.

The contract for the “Switchblade” air vehicle is for more than $4.9 million. The aircraft launches from a small tube and is controlled on AeroVironment’s standard small unmanned aircraft system ground control unit. In addition, upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm it and lock its trajectory onto the target.

Flying quietly at high speed, the Switchblade can deliver an onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage, according to AeroVironment. With the ability to call off a strike even after the air vehicle is armed, Switchblade provides a level of control not available in other weapon systems, the company said.

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