This Military Contractor Has a Secret Weapon


Some people call AeroVironment‘s  (NASDAQ: AVAV  )  Switchblade drone a “Lethal Miniature Aerial Munitions System,” or LMAMS. Others call Switchblade an “agile munitions system” or even “the first smart loitering weapon.” But whatever you want to call it, the U.S. military sure does like the Switchblade — a lot.

Duck and cover — it’s AeroVironment’s Switchblade! Source: AeroVironment.

Contracts galore

AeroVironment describes Switchblade as a “back-packable, non-line-of-sight precision strike solution with minimal collateral effects.” Two feet long and six pounds light, battery-powered, GPS-guided, and remotely piloted, Switchblade can be launched by a soldier in the field, used to identify targets through video streamed by its onboard camera — and then dive-bomb those targets kamikaze-style, detonating its small onboard warhead.

When AeroVironment announced that it had just received a $15.8 million order for its groundbreaking kamikaze drone last month, the military contractor implied that this contract — sizable as it was for a company of AV’s size — might be only the beginning.

AV wasn’t whistling Dixie. Col. Pete Newell, director of the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force was quoted earlier this year saying that soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan “need dramatically more” Switchblades. And just one week after AV announced its $15.8 million Switchblade contract, the Pentagon confirmed that it had already placed a second order for $6.6 million more — then, a day later, placed another order that was bigger than the first two contracts combined: $29 million.

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