Military reportedly uses ‘kamikaze drones’ in battle

LA Times blogs – October 19, 2011

U.S. Army and Air Force special forces have used a mini-cruise missile made by Monrovia-based AeroVironment Inc. to blast apart Taliban targets, according to a media report.

In an article, Bloomberg BusinessWeek disclosed that the weapon, called Switchblade, “was secretly sent to Afghanistan for the first time last year.”

Check out the entire article here.

The self-destructing mini-drone is designed to fit into a soldier’s rucksack and be fired from a mortar where it unfolds its wings as it takes to the skies, and begins sending live video and GPS coordinates to the soldier who launched it. Switchblade is remotely operated with a handheld controller.

The little missile, which looks less harmless than many Fourth of July fireworks, is tipped with a tiny warhead designed to explode upon hitting a target, which is why BusinessWeek dubbed it a “kamikaze drone.”

The 2-foot-long battery-powered drone is designed to fly above a war zone for at least five minutes for more than a mile at a time. We told you about the technology in a Times story about the miniaturization of military weaponry here.

Maj. Christopher Kasker, an Army spokesman, did not confirm whether Switchblade had been deployed above the war zone. However, he issued a statement that said:

“The Army has purchased a limited quantity of the Switchblade munition to support an urgent operational request. Quantities, fielding locations, dates and units involved are confidential to protect operational security.”

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