MONROVIA, Calif., 16 Feb. 2012. AeroVironment Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV) won a $4,167,777 order from the U.S. Air Force for operational Switchblade loitering munition systems and services, engineering services, and operator training. AeroVironment will work with munition subcontractor ATK (NYSE:ATK) to produce and deliver the systems.
“This order is another step on the path toward the broader adoption of Switchblade to protect our troops,” says Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment.
AeroVironment has performed a series of daytime and nighttime live fire demonstrations for multiple U.S. government customers, illustrating the Switchblade system’s ability to neutralize threats from a stand-off distance in a variety of operating environments.
The Switchblade loitering munition system launches from a small tube that can be carried in a backpack and transmits live color and infrared video wirelessly for display on AeroVironment’s standard small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) ground control unit. Upon confirming the target using the live video feed, the system operator then sends a command to the air vehicle to arm its payload and lock its trajectory onto the target.
Switchblade flies quietly at high speed and delivers the effects of its onboard explosive payload with precision while minimizing collateral damage. The operator can call off a strike even after the Switchblade system is armed, providing a level of control not available in other weapon systems.
“We are pleased to support AeroVironment and the U.S. Air Force as we validate further the breakthrough Switchblade system in real-world conditions,” says Mark Messick, vice president and general manager of Advanced Systems, ATK Aerospace Systems. “This award will enable significant progress in maturing the system for broader use.”