Flying Shotgun

Posted By lex, on October 19th, 2011

Pretty nifty new tool in the ruck:

The tube-launched Switchblade drone, made by Monrovia, California-based Aerovironment Inc., was secretly sent to Afghanistan for the first time last year. “Under a dozen” were fired, said Army Deputy Product Director William Nichols.

“It’s been used in Afghanistan by military personnel” and “shown to be effective,” Nichols said. The drone’s GPS guidance is made by Rockwell Collins Inc. and the warhead by Alliant Techsystems Inc.

Nichols declined to describe the Switchblade’s targets. He said the drone is “designed for open threats, something that’s on top of a building but you can’t hit it” with regular artillery or mortars for fear of collateral damage. The drone is less than 24 inches long and weighs about six pounds.

“It’s a ‘flying shotgun,’” Nichols said, not a “hit-to- kill” weapon that explodes on impact.

“The operator has control of how far away from the target it goes off — preselected distances,” he said in an interview Oct. 12 at the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

An Army fact sheet said the drone could be used against snipers, insurgents placing roadside bombs and those hiding on ridge lines, under rock overhangs and or in shallow caves.

If every platoon had a couple of those, you’d see a whole lot fewer snipers, insurgents placing roadside bombs and hiding on ridge lines.

One way or the other.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Military

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