Officially, the Ukrainian armed forces use kamikaze drones or known as loitering munition Switchblade 300, which were delivered from the United States earlier. Photos on social media show a completely destroyed drone. It is unclear whether the drone was shot down by Russian forces or fulfilled its mission.
Ukraine Weapons Tracker claims that the remains of the Switchblade 300 were discovered by Russian forces in the Kharkiv Oblast region. Of course, it is not possible to prove when the photos were taken and whether they were really from the cited region.
Experts suggest that the Switchblade 300 has most likely fulfilled its purpose, ie. it blew itself up, or hit, and blew up the target. Examining the photos, they noticed that only the tail [rear part] of the drone was taken in the photos. According to the design of the Switchblade 300, the explosive part is in front of the drone, ie. the explosive head is missing, which means that the drone is working as intended, but whether it hit something remains questionable.
Another proof that the Switchblade 300 was used for its intended purpose is the lack of the outer shell, which means that it burned out in an explosion. The photos also show burnt parts. However, another camera with wood screws is attached, which is strange.
There are fears that the drone has not been completely destroyed, however, and the question remains whether the Russians could access some of the technologies developed and used in the Switchblade 300.
The Switchblade is developed in two versions – Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600. Both versions are in service only in the United States Army and United States Marine Corps. Interestingly, the US government has banned the manufacturer – AeroVironment to demonstrate the capabilities of the second option – Switchblade 600.
In reality, the Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are unmanned aerial vehicles such as robotic intelligent bombs, ie. kamikaze. Like other drones, the Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are equipped with electro-optical surveillance, detection, and search systems.
According to the manufacturer, the second version of the Switchblade 600 can travel 80 km in 40 minutes. Both versions are programmable for auto-hitting targets and have the ability after takeoff the operator to change their trajectory and direct them to another target.
The advantage of this type of kamikaze drone is that they are relatively much cheaper than standard air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles. According to unofficial data, the Switchblade 300 costs just $6,000, while one Hellfire air-to-surface missile costs approximately $150,000.
The Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600 are tuned and fired in minutes from the launch tube.
Source: Bulgarian Military.