5.3.2020

AeroVironment starts flight testing larger Switchblade with greater range

AeroVironment starts flight testing larger Switchblade with greater range – link

Source: Flight Global

Article Headlines

  • AeroVironment has flight tested a larger Switchblade variant capable of carrying a bigger munition and travelling significantly further
  • Development of the larger loitering munition is co-funded by an undisclosed customer, the company says in a 3 March earnings call
  • The firm started openly discussing developing the new Switchblade variant in 2019, but had not previously disclosed a flight test campaign
  • Tests of the larger Switchblade started in AeroVironment’s 2020 fiscal year, which began 1 May 2019, the company says
  • AeroVironment says those tests were “successfully” conducted, though it provides no further details
  • Switchblade has become an important part of AeroVironment’s sales. In FY2019, the company generated $314 million in revenue, 21% of which came from the loitering munition.
  • However, international rivals have outflanked AeroVironment in foreign markets due less-strict weapon export rules
  • AeroVironment hopes to secure its first export order for the Switchblade in 2020 following newly received permission from the US government to sell the weapon to a small subset of NATO militaries
  • Anti-armour loitering munitions have more range and precision and cost less than present-day anti-tank weapons. For example, Raytheon’s Javelin anti-tank missile is projected to cost about $250,000 per unit, according to the US Department of Defense’s FY2021 budget request
  • The Pentagon is asking for $218 million worth of Javelins in the upcoming fiscal year – far more than the approximate $66 million it spent on Switchblades in AeroVironment’s FY2019

Overview & Comments

  • Aerovironment has an impressive market share of foreign customers operating the Wasp, Raven & Puma AE systems, thus adding the loitering munition to an already existing Aerovironment infrastructure, in addition to the advantage of FMS / FMF, will be very tempting for many of their already existing clients
  • See “AeroVironment develops a larger loitering munition” 

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