Killer Kamikaze Drone Ready to Fly in Afghanistan
The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force has shipped the Lethal Miniature Aerial Munitions System (LMAMS)—otherwise known as the Switchblade UAV—to an Army unit in RC East, though the soldiers there are still waiting for the final go-ahead to begin using the small, lethal drone in combat, the REF’s Maj. Shannon McCrory told Defense News.
The camera-enabled, 6 lb., 24-inch long Swtichblade is small and light enough to fit in a soldier’s backpack, and after a soldier launches it from a small tube, he can then guide it to its intended target before crashing it, detonating the explosive round it carries. The tiny killer can fly for up to 10 minutes.
The Army has already signed two contracts with Switchblade maker AeroVironment worth $10 million to procure the kamikaze drone, the latest $5.1 million deal coming in May. In August, the Army issued a sources sought notice for the next generation of the LMAMS, many of whose requirements sound an awful lot like the Switchblade.
Another new piece of gear for the dismounted soldier that the REF has provided to the troops in Afghanistan is the Man Portable Line Charge (MPLC), which is a 75 ft. long coiled rope that can be launched from a small stand the soldier sticks in the ground. Once launched, the rope extends to its maximum range, blowing any IEDs that might have been in its path. Maj. McCrory said that the MPLC has already been used over 70 times in combat. The whole system weighs 35 lbs., and can fit in a rucksack.
Despite budget cutbacks which have kept many soldiers and Army program managers home during this year’s AUSA conference, the REF was granted floor space in the Army’s demonstration booth, at no cost to the organization.