After the Department of Defense supplied Ukraine with 700 Switchblade 300 kamikaze drones, the U.S. Army has no plans to purchase anymore and replace the depleted supply, according to a report from the defense and national security website 19FortyFive. The Switchblades reportedly fall under LMAMS (Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System) which are not receiving any funding in fiscal year 2024, according to the Missiles Procurement budget.
In 2022 and 2023, the Army procured 900 and 525 Switchblades respectively. They were reportedly introduced in 2012 and were purchased since, so the pause in the budget has some suspicious that the program may be at its end.
The versatile missile operates like a sniper but with the ability to cancel the attack up to the last second of execution when the operator can see the target. The missile was developed from the RQ-10 Raven tactical observation drones, which had the capacity to see insurgents planting bombs or firing at U.S. personnel. But the drone could not fire back, which prompted the creation of the Switchblade.
In addition to being considered a sniper, the weapon is also called the “flying shotgun” because it can strike high high-value targets that are fleeing. The shotgun nickname was produced for its pattern of shrapnel generated from its warhead.
But despite the capabilities of the weapon, the details of it being used in action have never been revealed until the war in Ukraine began and the U.S. began to send hundreds of them to ward off the Russian offensive.
A spokesman for the Army declined to comment on whether the program was ending but one analyst assumes that if it does end it might be because of the cost. In 2022, the cost of one round was an estimated $58,000. While there is a rumor that such is the price for 10 Switchblades, there is not yet confirmation on that.