Army taps AeroVironment for Switchblade missiles

April 23 (UPI) — AeroVironment has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army to provide hardware and parts for Switchblade miniature aerial missile systems.

The deal, announced Friday by the Department of Defense, is valued at more than $44.6 million, which is a modification to a previous award.

The contract from Army Contracting Command enables AeroVironment, out of Simi Valley, Calif., to provide inert training vehicles and all up rounds, multi pack launchers and modular battery payloads, according to the Defense Department.

The Switchblade aerial missile system is designed to give an edge to both conventional and special operation forces in hostile territory. Weighing only 5.5 lbs, the precision strike munition can easily be stored and carried inside a soldier’s rucksack.

The Switchblade has a strike range of more than six miles with a flight endurance of around 15 minutes, and can strike targets beyond line of sight, meaning the munition can maneuver on targets beyond covered positions or around mountain ridges.

Work on the contract will occur in Simi Valley, Calif., and is expected to be complete in September 2019.

The total amount of the contract will be obligated to AeroVironment at the time of award from fiscal 2017 missile procurement appropriations funds, the Pentagon said.

AeroVironment first rolled out Block 10C upgrades on the Switchblade tactical missile system after the Army awarded the company a $22.8 million contract in September 2016. The upgrades provided soldiers with stable and secure encrypted communications.

The advances also allowed for more efficient use of existing frequency bands while reducing the risk of being intercepted by opposing signals.

.