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UK emerges as Switchblade loitering missile customer

A US Marine Corps Cpl. launches the Switchblade 300 weaponized small unmanned air system

The UK is buying an unspecified number of Aerovironment-built Switchblade loitering munitions according to a Pentagon contract announcement from March 16.

According to the US Defense Department, the US Army Contracting Command awarded Aerovironment $44.9 million for the foreign military sale.

The announcement provides no details on the number of munitions that will be delivered, saying only that the contract has a completion date of April 2023.

Switchblade is a weaponized small unmanned aerial system, back-packable and rapidly deployable from ground platforms including a 6-pack launcher. It provides precision strike capabilities up to 10 kilometers (6 miles) from its launch location.

The system has been in use by the US Army for nearly a decade. It also serves as the basis for a submarine-launched UAS, dubbed Blackwing, which will be used on US Navy submarines.

Northrop Grumman, a key partner on the Switchblade program, provides single purpose and multimode warheads for the systems.