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Switchblade UAV gets US Army order

Grey Havoc

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Ares

A Defense Technology Blog

AeroVironment Gets Order For Lethal Backpack UAV

Posted by Bill Sweetman at 9/1/2011 10:35 AM CDT


The US Army has given AeroVironment a $5 million contract for the Switchblade lethal backpack UAV, including engineering services and operational systems. The contract, issued at the end of June by the Close Combat Weapons Systems office, is believed to be the first announced order for this class of weapon.

Switchblade was unveiled at the AUVSI show in San Diego in June 2008 and more progress was reported in 2009.



Using many components from the Wasp mini-UAV, the two-pound Switchblade is tube-launched (so the operator can stay under cover) with tandem flip-out wings and electric propulsion. The operator can search for a target with the UAV's live video camera, then arm it and lock it on. The operator can abort the attack after lock-on, and if necessary it can loiter to search for targets.

Switchblade gives light forces the ability to engage personnel or light vehicles in defilade or behind structures, with high precision and low collateral damage - the warhead is grenade-sized. Its loitering capability

The USAF has a parallel program called Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS), intended to provide a similar weapon for USAF special operations teams. Switchblade is one candidate for LMAMS. Textron, AAI and Prioria are competing with the Tactical Remote Aerial Munition (T-RAM), using Prioria's roll-up carbonfiber wing, and MBDA is pitching the inflatable-wing Tiger.

Key LMAMS specifications include the ability to get the system ready to fire in 30 seconds, to fly out to a specified range in 20 seconds, loiter for up to 30 minutes and hit with one-meter accuracy. So far, LMAMS is a demonstration program and the end user has not funded an operational version.


Tags: ar99, unmanned, aerovironment

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a3fb9ccc5-f8a4-475e-a502-e574e36649c4&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

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Link to separate Switchblade promotional video shown at this year's AUVSI (via the DEW Line):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhKixW5PHbw
 

Nik

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Well, if you can persuade insurgents to show their position by shooting at a UAV, I'm for it...


Incidentally, could this be the 'killer app' for 'metal storm' weapons ??
 

Dragon029

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Nik said:
Well, if you can persuade insurgents to show their position by shooting at a UAV, I'm for it...


Incidentally, could this be the 'killer app' for 'metal storm' weapons ??
Are you referring to the launch system? The UAV itself is a kamikaze weapon - locate the enemy position relative to the user, fly the drone there, guide it into the target for detonation.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.avinc.com/uas/adc/switchblade/


[IMAGE CREDIT: Bring the Heat, Bring the Stupid]
 

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yasotay

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Think of it as a controllable hand grenade. Slightly more punch, but not much.
 

Grey Havoc

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And now the Navy is getting in on the fun:

US Navy Subs to Deploy Switchblade UAV
Posted by Graham Warwick at 12/22/2011 11:31 AM CST

The US Navy plans to launch AeroVironment's Switchblade small expendable unmanned aircraft from a submerged submarine during the RIMPAC 2012 naval exercise in the Pacific.

A contract has been awarded to Raytheon, which has developed the submerged launch vehicle (SLV) that allows the UAV to be deployed via the submarine's trash disposal unit when the boat is at periscope depth. The SLV gets the UAV to the surface dry and then ejects it into flight.


Graphic: Raytheon

The contract for five sets of SLV and UAV is a continuation of the Submarine Over-The-Horizon Organic Capabilities (SOTHOC) program, under which Raytheon in 2008 demonstrated the "over-the-side" deployment of the SLV and UAV from a surface ship.

In the SOTHOC concept, the SLV and electric-powered UAV are stored on board as an all-up round. Ejected from the submerged submarine's trash disposal unit, the SLV is weighted to descend to a safe distance from the boat, then shed the weight and inflate a float collar.

The collar is pulsed to control the rate of ascent. As it approaches the surface, the SLV deploys a water drogue to provide stabilization and a vane to align it into the wind. The tube then pivots to a 35-degree angle and ejects the folding-wing UAV.


Graphic: AeroVironment

According to a "justifaction and approval" on fbo.gov for award of the sole-source contract to Raytheon to support RIMPAC 2012, the company has been working on SOTHOC since 2007 and deployed the Switchblade from a submerged submarine at persicope depth for the first time under a FY2008 follow-on contract.

Under an FY2010 contract, the J&A says, Raytheon upgraded the Switchblade for the SOTHOC concept, conducted land-based testing and supplied five SLVs and seven UAVs for a tactical development exercise. The latest award is being made under the same IDIQ umbrella contract.


LINK
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?233162-Navy-Launches-UAV-from-Submerged-Submarine​
 

fightingirish

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This test used the NRL developed fuel cell powered XFC (eXperimental Fuel Cell) unmanned aerial system (UAS); not the AeroVironment Switchblade UAV!
[...]Operating under support of the Los Angeles class USS Providence (SSN 719) and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Newport Division (NUWC-NPT), the NRL developed XFC UAS—eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System—was fired from the submarine's torpedo tube using a 'Sea Robin' launch vehicle system. The Sea Robin launch system was designed to fit within an empty Tomahawk launch canister (TLC) used for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles already familiar to submarine sailors.[...]
Source: nrl.navy.mil - U.S. Navy Launches XFC UAV from Submerged Submarine
Picture source: nrl.navy.mil - NRL's XFC UAS Achieves Flight Endurance Milestone
 

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Grey Havoc

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Oops, put it in the wrong topic! Thanks for the heads-up. I'll leave it here for comparison purposes.
 

Triton

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"New Weapons Spell Death For Drones; The Countermeasure Dance"
By Colin Clark on October 13, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Source:
http://breakingdefense.com/2014/10/new-weapons-spell-death-for-drones-the-countermeasure-dance/

AUSA: For years, Predator drones have been able to fly unopposed through most of their missions. If we can do that, you can be sure other countries are working hard to deploy drones to do to us as we have done to them.

Taking the classic dance of measure and countermeasure, strike and counterstrike, the Army and other services have been quietly working on weapons to shoot drones down or disable them.

One of the more interesting efforts is led by SRC, a not-for-profit company formerly affiliated with Syracuse University. SRC has written software tying together their AN/TPQ-50 counter-fire radar, the CREW Duke counter-IED system (an electronic warfare system, really) — both carried on Humvees — and a very small armed drone called Switchblade, built by Aerovironment. I spotted a poster they had at their AUSA booth depicting the Counter-UAS effort and was intrigued.

The system, begun three years ago, underwent testing this August at Black Dart, the military’s little known exercises for counter-drone systems held at the Navy’s Mugu Point, near China Lake. The premise behind SRC’s system is pretty simple. Growlers, F-35s and other aircraft provide the first ring of defense against drones. But if any penetrate through that first ring or if an enemy deploys smaller tactical drones as our military does, then troops need defense against that threat.

Mugu Point Naval Air Station overhead

The radar picks up the threat. First, the EW suite targets it to break its control or data links and perhaps force it down that way. David Bessey, who leads the program at SRC, says the EW strikes are “most effective.” If that doesn’t work, then a Switchblade is launched to shoot it down. There’s a video demonstrating this at Black Dart, but it hasn’t been approved for public release yet.

SwitchBlade Block10 Launches

“We were able to detect UAVs at a significant distance and basically take them off course, jam ‘em, or take control,” the Army’s deputy program manager for electronic warfare, Michael Ryan, told my colleague Sydney Freedberg at last week’s Association of Old Crows EW conference. “We’re actually taking ‘em out.”

One of the things that impressed me about this effort, aside from the fact that the services are doing the Black Dart exercises and apparently trying to keep ahead of the threat, is that SRC has pulled together a range of existing great equipment, written new code to tie it all together and effectively created a new system of systems at a nominal cost. I bet the folks at ATL would love to call this one a fine example of Better Buying Power 3.0.
 

Jemiba

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Interesting, but to my opinion there are two points casting doubts :

Triton said:
.... or if an enemy deploys smaller tactical drones as our military does,

......
The radar picks up the threat.
Am I wrong, or does the task of making an aeronautical vehicle stealthy becomes easier with
decreasing size ? Lower size mostly means flying at lower altitude, increasing difficulties for
detection, too.
For many modern "asymmetric" conflicts, the enemy is more likely to deploy drones like the
Switchblade by himself, l think and this system seems to be aimed at bigger types.
But, as mentioned, it's "the classic dance of measure and countermeasure" and so the
Hamas, Hisbollah, IS, or whoever the enemy will be, he has to make his RC-model like
drones stealthy.
 

coanda

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I suppose it all depends on where you put your drone. Flying around at 250ft or more, then you're likely to get spotted - who knows, maybe counter battery radar can pick them up? Put that thing down at 25 ft with the right combination of speed, maneuverability and programming and you'll not have to worry about being spotted, and become a difficult target to shoot. I suppose you may end up with man mounted jamming to kill radio/video feed in proximity denying the operator the ability to control the vehicle and identify targets, and I guess, when systems are miniaturised enough, it may be possible to break in to a system from a man mount EW package, render it harmless and gain intel about the operator. This will become a counter vs counter war of attrition probably limited by unit cost of the UAV.
 

bobbymike

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http://www.asdnews.com/news-68099/AeroVironment_Introduces_New_Remote-Controlled_Multi-Pack_Launcher_for_its_Switchblade_and_Blackwing_Tactical_Missile_Systems.htm
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/aerovironment-to-integrate-switchblade-and-shrike-2-452545/
 

bobbymike

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Company promotional video

 
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