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Australia procures Switchblade loitering munition

Australia's acquisition of the Switchblade air vehicle for the Australian Army is part of a push by the Australian government to enhance the military's asymmetric capabilities. (AeroVironment)

The Australian government has announced the acquisition of Switchblade 300 precision loitering munitions.

The loitering munition provides “a critical combat edge” and adds to the unmanned “capabilities available to the Australian Defence Force (ADF)”, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 8 July.

Developed by AeroVironment Inc, the Switchblade 300 is a tube-launched, non-recoverable attack loitering munition designed to provide “multidomain operational capability” to military forces. Australia did not specify which variant of the Switchblade 300 it is acquiring. It is likely, however, that the procurement is for the new extended endurance version, the Block 20.

This variant is 0.033 m shorter in length compared with the baseline Switchblade 300's length of 0.495 m. However, the Block 20 aircraft has a larger wingspan (0.05 m greater than the 0.686 m wingspan of the baseline Switchblade 300) and a greater weight (3.27 kg compared with the 2.5 kg weight of the baseline version). The Block 20 has a 1.68 kg munition.

The Block 20 version of the loitering munition also has a service ceiling of 4,572 m (mean sea level), a maximum dash speed of 161 km/h, and a range of 30 km. This range could allow Australian Army troops to engage maritime or littoral targets. On 5 July the Australian DoD published a video of a Switchblade loitering munition destroying a towed naval target. Janes assessed that the target appeared to be a metallic container that was 2 m long with a diameter of 500 mm.

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