Home Air Watch a drone hit the bullseye with smaller drone in Aerovironment demo

Watch a drone hit the bullseye with smaller drone in Aerovironment demo

JUMP 20 UAS deploys smaller Switchblade drone
Switchblade 300 heading towards its target after launching from a JUMP 20 UAS; Screengrab

Unmanned aerial system and tactical missiles specialist AeroVironment has demonstrated the launch of a small Switchblade 300 loitering missile from the JUMP 20 medium unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The company said the launch of the Switchblade ” suicidal drone missile” served an air launched effects (ALE) proof-of-concept demonstration that took place in August 2021.

The systems were integrated by fixing the inert Switchblade 300 tube-launch system to the existing JUMP 20 platform’s vertical lift boom with a custom-made bolt-on mount and firing solution.

Switchblade 300 was remotely fired using the JUMP 20 ground control solution with in-flight control taken by a separate Switchblade ground element. Both vehicles were successfully recovered, proving the demonstration event to be the first-ever Switchblade 300 integration and air launch from a JUMP 20 Group 3 vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) platform.

ALE are a new point of focus for the US Army, which plans to use the systems as an integral part of its Future Vertical Lift program. Raytheon and Anduril are also developing ALE systems for the service.

According to a US Army definition, air launched effects represent a family of systems (FoS) consisting of an air vehicle, payload(s), mission system applications, and associated support equipment designed to autonomously or semi-autonomously deliver effects as a single agent or as a member of a team.

“This end-to-end integrated solution enables customers with greater time on station than if they were to deploy a Switchblade on its own, resulting in the ability to conduct persistent real-time surveillance to increase the chance of identifying the correct target and minimizing collateral damage,” said Brett Hush, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager of tactical missile systems.

This is not the first time Aerovironment’s Switchblade has launched from an unmanned platform. Earlier this year, the Royal Navy used the Switchblade 300 in a large-scale unmanned systems drill, pairing it with the Madfox unmanned surface vessel to demonstrate sensor-to-shooter capability.

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