Switchblade: America’s Suicide Drone Used to Destroy Russian Helicopters

The Switchblade 300 is a small loitering unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by numerous branches of the US military. Classified more as a direct fire munition than a drone, its compact size makes it ideal for use by smaller units. The UAV made headlines in 2022, after the US government announced it was sending 1,000 Switchblades to Ukraine.

The Switchblade is a flying camera robot with an explosive inside. These all-electric machines are weapons that will help find or attack nearby enemies, not far-away ones. 

Switchblades come in two sizes: the Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600. Both can be carried by one person, though the weight difference is substantial—a 300 weighs just 5.5 pounds and can fit inside a backpack. The 600 is bigger, with the missile itself weighing 33 lbs and the components needed to transport it much heavier.

The Switchblade 300 can hit targets at a range of just over 6 miles, and can fly for a total of 15 minutes. The 600 has a range of 25 miles or a flight time of 40 minutes. The Switchblade contains cameras, and video from these sensors, as well as GPS information and image processing, is used to guide the Switchblade. The Switchblade is also designed to receive targeting information from other drones, allowing it to follow and find selected targets. That makes it one weapon among many that can be directed against a target with the targeting information provided by other drones.