U.S. Army Buys Small Unmanned “Kamikaze” Planes
By Dialogo October 20, 2011
The U.S. Army has signed a contract for the purchase of small, portable unmanned planes capable of successfully destroying a target by launching themselves against it and activating built-in explosive charges, announced the firm that built the weapon.
In late June, the U.S. Army reached an agreement for $4.9 million with AeroVironment to acquire these aircrafts, dubbed “Switchblades,” as quickly as possible, the manufacturer said.
The aerial device will weigh less than two kilos (approximately 4.4lbs) and can be transported in soldiers’ backpacks. To launch it, the device is expelled from a tube and opens its wings.
The unmanned plane hovers in the air with the help of a small electric motor that transmits video images captured by its small built-in camera, enabling a precise view of the target, the firm explained in a statement.
Upon obtaining images of the objective thanks to live transmissions from the plane, the operator can confirm whether the target is the one intended, thereby avoiding collateral victims, the manufacturers and the Army affirmed.
The device then takes aim at the target and crashes into it, thereby detonating the explosive charge it contains.
Once launched, the missiles fired by Predator and Reaper planes cannot be diverted from their objective, and the explosion cannot be cancelled. The Switchblade can not only be used as a remote-controlled weapon, but as a reconnaissance device also.