Switchblade 600 procurement by USSOCOM is for testing, not operational use.
However, the acquisition is not intended for operational use. Commander Hawkins, a U.S. Special Operations Command spokesperson, explained to Naval News in early May 2021:
“The munitions purchased under this procurement are not intended for operational use. This is a research and development effort. We are evaluating the technical feasibility of developing, integrating and testing munitions capable of launching from static or moving platforms to engage static or moving surface targets. This is part of our investment in precision munition capabilities needed for U.S. Special Operations Forces to operate in future challenging environments across multiple domains. This includes the maritime domain. This capability may be integrated across multiple platforms currently in service with U.S. Special Operations Command.”
“We are continuously searching for improvements and researching technological developments across the air, ground and maritime domains – particularly for systems and platforms that support operations in remote locations. The ability for U.S. Special Operations Forces to employ loitering munitions is key to our ability to precisely strike enemy forces.”
For the record, AeroVironment announced the $26 Million Switchblade 600 contract awarded by USSOCOM on 27 April. The contract includes delivery and integration of Switchblade 600 into specialized maritime platforms such as Combatant Craft Medium (CCM) and Combatant Craft Heavy (CCH).
About Switchblade 600 loitering munition
The AeroVironment Switchblade 600 is an all-in-one, man portable solution equipped with a high-performance EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control and more than 40 minutes of flight time to deliver unprecedented tactical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA). Its anti-armor warhead enables engagement and prosecution of hardened static and moving light armored vehicles from multiple angles – without external ISR or fires assets – for precise, localized effects and minimal collateral damage.
The Switchblade 600 has a range of 40+ kilometers, a cruise speed of 70 miles per hour. One system (loitering munition + launcher units) weighs 120 lb (54.4 kg).