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No place to hide for Russian tanks: Closer look at growing number of Switchblade 600 drones in Ukraine

No place to hide for Russian tanks: Closer look at growing number of Switchblade 600 drones in Ukraine Illustrative photo (
Author: Daria Shekina

Switchblade kamikaze drones are aiding the Ukrainian Armed Forces in reclaiming Ukrainian territory during the early months of the full-scale war. The United States is soon planning to increase the supply of a modified version of this UAV – the Switchblade 600, often referred to as the "sky retribution" for enemy tanks and armored vehicles. RBC-Ukraine delves into the specifics and characteristics of this kamikaze drone.

Sources used in the article include material from Newsweek, ArmyInform, Military, DefenseExpress, and data from the AeroVironment website.

More Switchblades coming to Ukraine

One of the executives of the American company AeroVironment, the manufacturer of Switchblade drones, Charlie Dean, has announced some good news regarding the supply of these UAVs to Ukraine.

According to him, currently, the Ukrainian Armed Forces primarily use the Switchblade 300 version in the field of battle. Modified versions of the Switchblade 600 UAVs are also in the inventory of the Ukrainian army, but in smaller quantities. However, the situation will change soon.

The AeroVironment executive mentioned that Ukraine will receive an additional batch of anti-tank Switchblade 600 drones.

When and how many drones Ukraine will receive is currently unknown. The Pentagon has not made any public statements on this matter yet.

What's known about Switchblade drones

AeroVironment has been producing Switchblade drones since 2011. They are in service with the US Army, the UK, Lithuania, and, as of 2022, Ukraine.

These UAVs were developed upon the request of the US Air Force Special Operations Command. They have been actively used during the war in Afghanistan for attacking enemy positions and transport.

The Switchblade is a guided unmanned aerial vehicle with an explosive payload designed to engage both personnel and vehicles. Equipped with cameras and sensors, it can also serve as a reconnaissance drone.

Its compact size allows one person to carry it, even in a backpack. It is electrically powered, making it relatively quiet during flight.

The drone is launched from a ground-based launcher that resembles a mortar. After launch, it unfolds its wings and uses its navigation system to move toward its target.

No place to hide for Russian tanks: Closer look at growing number of Switchblade 600 drones in Ukraine

Photo: the process of launching the UAV (

In the device, there are both day and infrared cameras, as well as secondary tracking devices for targeting stationary and moving enemy objects. The operator can control the UAV throughout the entire flight, changing coordinates and all parameters in real-time mode.

The drones are produced in two versions - Switchblade 300 and Switchblade 600.

The "younger" version is lighter and more compact, weighing less than 3 kilograms when folded. After launch, it can stay in the air for up to 10 minutes and attack targets at a distance of up to 10 kilometers, reaching speeds of 160 km/h during an attack.

Switchblade 300 is suitable for eliminating enemy personnel, light vehicles, and unprotected weaponry, such as mortars and machine gun installations. It is used for providing fire support to units under enemy fire.

Advantages of Switchblade 600

Switchblade 600 is a representative of the new generation of loitering munitions. It features high-precision optics and can remain in the air for over half an hour.

Equipped with an anti-armor warhead, similar to the Javelin ATGM, for engaging targets at long ranges. It allows not only for guided explosions but also detonation at a certain altitude. It is used for destroying tanks and heavy armored vehicles.

No place to hide for Russian tanks: Closer look at growing number of Switchblade 600 drones in Ukraine

Photo: prototype of the Switchblade 600 UAV (

During flight missions, the combat drone does not require external intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets or additional targeting means.

The Switchblade 600 is equipped with leading-edge electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors with high resolution and precision flight control.

The drone uses patented task interruption technology with recommit capability, allowing the operator to pause the mission if necessary and then re-engage previous or new targets.

The control system, in the form of a touchscreen tablet, enables manual or autonomous flight control, uses encrypted data transmission channels, and is equipped with selective GPS availability, and protection against electronic interception.

Specifications of the "tank-killing" drone:


  • Flight radius - 40 km
  • Engagement radius - over 90 km
  • Flight time - over 40 minutes

Drone weight:

  • UAV (AUR) - 22.7 kg
  • Ammunition - 14.97 kg

System (AUR + Fire Control System, FCS) - 54.4 kg


  • Cruising - 112 km/h
  • Maximum (attack) - 185 km/h

As noted by the representative of the drone manufacturer, Charlie Dean, the use of such weaponry by Ukrainian forces, like the Switchblade 600, is crucial for targeting Russian forces equipped with heavy armor.

Furthermore, the drone can cover significant distances, allowing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to destroy very important Russian military targets far behind the front line, something no other weapon can do to the same extent.

How Ukraine uses the Switchblade on the battlefield

The first batch of Switchblade 300 combat drones arrived as part of U.S. military aid in April 2022.

Already in early May, videos emerged showing Ukrainian defenders attacking occupant positions using this UAV.

In October 2022, Special Operations forces demonstrated how they attacked a fortified area of Russian troops in the Kharkiv region.

In September 2022, it became known that the Pentagon had signed a $2.2 million contract with AeroVironment for Switchblade 600 drones for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

By this spring, the Switchblade 600 had already arrived in Ukraine. Evidence of the UAV's use was published by Russians who found debris from the drone after an attack on one of the enemy military units.

Among the wreckage, the warhead was missing, indicating that it had hit the target and detonated.