Navy to Test Kamikaze Drone From Submarine

Tiny 'Switchblade' unit already has seen use on land by Army
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2011 5:30 PM CST
Navy to Launch Switchblade Drone Underwater
The Army paid $4.9 million for the Switchblade.   (Photo: Business Wire)

It's small enough to be carried in a soldier's backpack—and now, it's heading underwater. The Switchblade kamikaze drone will be test-launched from a Navy submarine next year. The Army already has used what USA Today calls "essentially a self-propelled, remotely guided missile"; now, the Navy is getting ready to fire it in a canister from a submarine to the water's surface. Once there, the drone self-launches to spy on enemy positions from above and relay coordinates.

Manufacturer AeroVironment calls the drone a "magic bullet," noting that its "small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize, and track even at very close range." It adds that the Switchblade can run autonomously and can be used for "information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition." The Army paid AeroVironment $4.9 million for it earlier this year. Aviation Week has the high-tech details. (More Navy stories.)

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