The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence continues strengthening the Armed Forces with the current acquisition of the Switchblade tactical drones. The Defence Materiel Agency under the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence signed the Switchblade 600 procurement contract with the United States Government earlier this week. The Switchblade 600 kamikaze drones is a new generation long range loitering munition with characteristics of precision optics, up to 40 minutes flight time and effective antitank charge destructive for heavy armored vehicles, including tanks. The kamikaze drone is capable of destroying targets in a direct downwards attack.
“Aside from the United States itself, we are the first country worldwide to acquire the Switchblade 600 system. The drones are a new deployable capability that will allow the Lithuanian Armed Forces to destroy enemy tanks and other armored equipment 40 km away. Our Armed Forces has not had such a capability before,” the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas said.
Launching and control equipment is acquired alongside the drones, as well as the personnel training simulation system and maintenance package. The contract value amounts to approx. 45 million euros. The United States will also deliver a smaller and more lightweight version of the system, Switchblade 300, for the Lithuanian Armed Forces as well. Lithuania has more projects vital for modernizing the Lithuanian Armed Forces underway: the ongoing acquisition of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicles JLTV, HIMARS long-range rocket artillery systems and Black Hawk helicopters.
The AeroVironment Switchblade is a miniature loitering munition, designed by AeroVironment and used by several branches of the United States military. Small enough to fit in a backpack, the Switchblade launches from a tube, flies to the target area, and crashes into its target while detonating its explosive warhead. The name switchblade comes from the way the spring-loaded wings are folded up inside a tube and flip out once released. Introduced in 2011, the original Switchblade was rebranded the Switchblade 300 after the much larger and very different Switchblade 600 anti-armor variant was unveiled in 2020.