Switchblade 600: The successor of the Switchblade 300

Eric Sof

AeroVironment Switchblade 600 suicide drone hovering over target

The newest member of AeroVironment’s family of loitering missile systems, Switchblade 600, represents the next generation of extended-range loitering missiles. AeroVironment, a leading defense technology company, has been at the forefront of innovation in developing advanced unmanned systems for the military. Building on its track record of innovation, AeroVironment has been working closely with DoD customers to expand its loitering missile systems with cutting-edge capabilities that can support COIN (Counterinsurgency) and peer/near-peer operations. In this article, we will look closer at the Switchblade 600 and its advanced capabilities that set it apart from its predecessors.


These elusive devices possess a deceptive nature, seemingly impervious to the air defense systems currently in place. They can linger in a designated region while the operator surveys potential targets. Suddenly and without warning, they plummet to attack their intended objectives. The Switchblade 300 is capable of eliminating transport vehicles and personnel. On the other hand, the 600 variant operates more like a flying Javelin missile, capable of engaging larger targets, including tanks. Moreover, the Switchblade 600 can deploy two Switchblade 300 while still in the air, thus extending their reach and engaging multiple targets.

Advanced Capabilities

The Switchblade 600 is a larger, more advanced version of its backpackable predecessor Switchblade 300. The missile system is an all-in-one, man-portable (50 lb.) solution that includes everything needed to launch, fly, track, and engage non-line-of-sight targets with lethal effects. It can be set up and operational in less than ten minutes. The self-contained, tube-based launch system allows flexibility to be launched from the ground, air, or mobile vehicle platforms. With a 115 mph dash speed, and an onboard multi-purpose anti-armor warhead, Switchblade 600 has the firepower to engage and prosecute hardened static and moving light armored vehicles from multiple angles with precisely localized effects while minimizing collateral damage.

Switchblade 600 in air
Switchblade 600 in air (Photo: AeroVironment)

Precision Effects on Target

With a high-performance EO/IR gimbaled sensor suite, precision flight control, and more than 40 minutes of flight time, Switchblade 600 delivers unprecedented tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA). This allows Switchblade 600 to transit up to 80 km to a target area before conducting multiple confirmatory orbits and engaging in target prosecution – without needing external ISR or fire assets. Switchblade 600 delivers unprecedented precision, control, and effects on the target, addressing missions previously performed with ‘fire and forget’ legacy missile systems.

Intuitive Touch-Screen, Tablet-Based Fire Control System

AeroVironment has introduced an intuitive touch-screen, tablet-based Fire Control System (FCS) with tap-to-target guidance and the option to pilot the vehicle manually or autonomously. Combined with its built-in mission planner and training simulator, the FCS provides operators with an intuitive platform to plan and execute missions precisely while reducing cognitive load efficiently.

AeroVironment Switchblade 600 during the launch animation
AeroVironment Switchblade 600 during the launch (Photo: AeroVironment)

Security and Resilient Communications

Onboard AES 256 digital encryption and SAASM GPS provide the security, resilient communications, and signal integrity against anti-spoofing attacks needed to operate in today’s complex battlefronts. Switchblade 600 has been designed to support various Concepts of Employment (CONEMPs) and Operation (CONOPs) across contemporary and future operating environments.

Concepts of Employment (CONEMPs) and Operations (CONOPs)

Mission sets include the Force Protection of Forward Operating Bases in addition to Seek and Destroy missions targeting armored vehicles and troops in defilade, and they continue to successfully demonstrate these concepts through an ongoing operational flight test program. The Switchblade 600 was developed for the Army Single Multi-Mission Attack Missile development program. Other methods could include a six-pack vehicle-mounted version and air launch.

Production Capacity

In October 2022, AeroVironment announced that it could produce more than 2,000 Switchblade 600 systems annually and planned to increase production capacity to 6,000 per year within a few months. The Switchblade 600, while larger and weightier than its predecessor, remains a portable device, manageable by a single individual. With a wider range, it is equipped with a warhead capable of penetrating tanks and bunkers. Given its price tag of around $70,000, it is prudent to reserve its use for high-value targets.

Switchblade 600 loitering munition
Switchblade 600 loitering munition (Photo: AeroVironment)

Technical specifications

Country of origin:United States
Type:anti-armor loitering munition
Targets:tanks and armored vehicles
Weight system:54.5 kg
Flight time:20 minutes
Range:40 km
Length:1.3 m airframe
Users:United States and Ukraine

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