Biden to send Switchblade tank-killing ‘kamikaze’ drones to Ukraine that can be carried in backpacks and loiter above targets before attacking at 115mph with armor-piercing warhead
- The Switchblade 600s will be given to Ukraine as part of a newly-announced $300m military assistance package
- Comes in addition to $800m of assistance donated by the Pentagon on March 16 – but that was comprised of 100 of the less powerful Switchblade 300 models
- Switchblade 600 series can fly for 24 miles, hover above a target for 40 minutes before intercepting at 115mph, and is equipped with an anti-armor warhead
- The 300 model can fly about six miles and loiter for up to 15 minutes before attacking a target at 100mph
- Both were chosen for their portability and ease of use; they can be controlled from the ground by a tablet computer
President Biden will send 10 ultra-powerful Switchblade 600 kamikaze drones to Ukraine as part of a newly-unveiled $300 million military assistance package.
The 50lb drones can fly 24 miles, ‘loiter’ above a target for 40 minutes before flying into them at 115mph and exploding using special armor-piercing warheads that can destroy a tank.
They’re controlled by a tablet style device which can be pre-programmed or operated manually, Bloomberg reported.
News of the donation to Ukraine was announced by the Pentagon Friday, with the Switchblades set to be sourced directly from California-based manufacturer AeroVironment Inc, rather than taken from the US military’s own stockpile.
The Switchblade 600s are separate from a $800 million package announced by the White House on March 16.
That included 100 of the less powerful Switchblade 300 series. They weigh just 5.5 pounds each, can fly about six miles and loiter over a target for up to 15 minutes before attacking at a speed of 100mph.
President Biden has agreed to send 10 tank-killing Switchblade 600 drones to Ukraine. An artist’s image of one of the drones flying through the sky is pictured above
This is the moment a Switchblade 300 was deployed, with devastating consequences. The newly-unveiled 600 model packs an even more powerful punch
SOPHISTICATED SWITCHBLADES ARE EASY TO USE
Can pierce armored vehicles
Hovers above targets for 40 minutes
Can travel 25 miles
Top speed of 115mph
Can be aborted at the last minute
Designed to kill people and passengers
Hovers above targets for 15 minutes
Can travel 6 miles
Top speed of 100mph
Can be aborted at the last minute
Can fit in a rucksack
Both Switchblades have been likened to ‘flying shotguns’ and have been selected for use in Ukraine because of their ease of use and deployment, with the drones able to take off from portable tubes planted on the ground.
Switchblade 300s were first deployed in secret in Afghanistan in 2010 to fight the Taliban, and were deemed a huge success.
The development of the Switchblade 600 came in response to calls from GOP lawmakers, including Rep Ken Calvert, for an anti-armor model that can pierce the defenses of enemy hardware.
The lighter Switchblade 300 is intended to kill people in the open and passengers in a vehicle.
It weighs only 5.5lbs but can travel for six miles, hover for 15 minutes, and then dive down to a target at 100mph.
Both Switchblades are designed to be easily portable, fitting into a rucksack and fired from a tube set up in 10 minutes. They were chosen for their ease-of-use, and because prospective operators require comparatively little training before use.
They are also intended to be cost-efficient; a Switchblade 300 costs $6,000, versus a $150,000-a-time Hellfire missile, fired from a conventional Predator or Reaper drone.
An additional advantage of the Switchblade, AeroVironment say, is that the strike can be aborted seconds before the target is hit – unlike a Hellfire drone. Hellfires have infamously hit targets which later turned out to be innocent civilians.
The idea of sending Switchblades to Ukraine was first reported by NBC News. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on the US and NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country, but has been met with resistance over fears doing so would trigger a direct conflict with Russia.
Horrific new details of Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine have continued to emerge in recent days.
The bodies of 400 civilians were found in the town of Bucha, northwest of the capital Kyiv.
Many had had their hands tied behind their backs before being shot dead.
Meanwhile, one woman targeted by Russian soldiers was said to have been found with a swastika branded onto her skin.
The grim discovery was made after her dead body was found following her rape and murder.
Joe Biden on Tuesday called for Vladimir Putin to face a war crimes trial over the atrocities carried out at the hands of his soldiers.
Russia is now turning its attentions to the Ukrainian port of Odessa in an apparent attempt to leave the country land-locked.
The horror that was too much even for Ukraine’s hero president: Emotional Zelensky has to compose himself and says he finds it ‘difficult to talk’ as he surveys the carnage at Bucha and condemns Russian ‘genocide’
A visibly emotional Volodymyr Zelensky today stood motionless as he surveyed the scene of utter devastation he encountered in the town of Bucha, with dozens of bodies shot at close range lying on the empty streets.
The Ukrainian President appeared overwhelmed, admitting he found ‘it very difficult to talk when you see what they’ve done here’.
On the streets of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, the bodies of civilians have been found scattered, many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture, after Russian forces retreated from the area.
Ukraine and Western leaders have accused Russia of carrying out the massacre of civilians and dumping their bodies in mass graves, with one pit in Bucha containing at least 57 people.
Zelensky today said it had become harder for Ukraine to negotiate with Russia since Kyiv became aware of the scale of alleged atrocities carried out by Russian troops in Ukraine.
‘These are war crimes and will be recognised by the world as genocide,’ Zelenskiy said, wearing body armour and surrounded by military personnel.
‘It’s very difficult to talk when you see what they’ve done here,’ he said. ‘The longer the Russian Federation drags out the meeting process, the worse it is for them and for this situation and for this war.
‘We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with severed limbs, raped women and murdered children,’ he said, adding that in Bucha and other towns in the Kyiv region ‘dead people have been found in barrels, basements, strangled, tortured’.
Zelensky said that despite the horrific human suffering in Bucha, residents were chipping in together to make sure homeless animals were fed.
‘That’s a characteristic trait of our people, I think – treat animals the way you would treat humans,’ he said. ‘But you can see around what was done to this modern town. That’s a characteristic of Russian soldiers – treat people worse than animals. That is real genocide, what you have seen here today.’
Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said the bodies of 410 civilians, many with bound hands and close-range gunshot wounds, have been recovered from towns surrounding Kyiv after last week’s withdrawal of Russian troops.
A mass grave containing the bodies of at least 20 civilians including a mayor and her family were uncovered in woodland near the town of Motzyhn, around 20 miles west of Bucha where another mass grave has been found.
The pit contains the bodies of local mayor Olga Sukhenko who was buried along with her husband and son, according to Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria Olexander Scherba.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
Broken: A visibly emotional President Volodymyr Zelensky today stood motionless as he surveyed the scene of utter devastation he encountered in the town of Bucha, with dozens of bodies shot at close range laying on the empty streets
The Ukrainian President appeared overwhelmed at seeing the carnage in the town, admitting he finds ‘it very difficult to talk’
During his visit to Bucha today, Ukraine’s President Zelensky said it had become harder for the country to negotiate with Russia since Kyiv became aware of the scale of alleged atrocities carried out by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine
‘These are war crimes and will be recognised by the world as genocide,’ Zelenskiy said, wearing body armour on his outing
Zelensky said that despite the human suffering, residents were chipping in together to make sure homeless animals were fed
‘You can see around what was done to this modern town. That’s a characteristic of Russian soldiers – treat people worse than animals. That is real genocide, what you have seen here today,’ said President Zelensky, who was visibly emotional
A mass grave containing the bodies of at least 20 civilians including a mayor and her family was found near Motzyhn, 20 miles west of Bucha where another mass grave was found. Zelensky pictured speaking to military personnel in Bucha, near Kyiv
Communal workers carry body bags in the town of Bucha, not far from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Sunday
A Ukrainian policeman walks by a pit in the village of Motyzhyn, Ukraine, April 3, where the bodies of the mayor of the village, Olga Sukhenko, her husband and son and that of a man believed to be a Ukrainian serviceman, who was not yet identified, lie
Pictured: Black bags containing bodies of civilians, who according to residents were killed by Russian troops, are seen at the cemetery after being picked up from the streets before they are taken to the morgue, in Bucha, in Kyiv region of Ukraine
Volunteers unload bags containing bodies of civilians, who according to residents were killed by Russian army soldiers
The streets of Bucha were littered with the bodies of people (pictured) slain by Russian troops according to local residents
Family: The head of the village of Motyzhyn, Ms Sukhenko (pictured left) had been missing since March 25 when she was reported kidnapped by Russian forces, along with her husband Igor (pictured right) and son Alexander (pictured centre)
Pictured: A satellite image taken on March 31 shows the mass grave – a 45ft-long pit – dug behind the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, during the time that Russian forces were in control of the region
Ms Sukhenko’s body had been rolled into the hastily-dug pit alongside at least 19 others including families, some of whom showed signs of torture. Sukhenko was found with her fingers and arms broken, according to the mayor of the nearby town of Kopyliv, while a resident of Motyzhyn said Russian soldiers killed any Ukrainian officials who refused to collaborate.
The mayor and her family had been reported by others as kidnapped by Russians on March 23 and taken in an unknown direction.
It is the second mass grave to be uncovered behind the backs of retreating Russian troops, after a 45ft pit containing the bodies of at least 57 civilians was uncovered in Bucha – a city on the outskirts of Kyiv where hundreds of civilians have been found dead.
The grave had been dug into a grassy area to the rear of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha with Serhii Kaplychnyi, head of the local rescue services, saying at least 57 civilians had been buried in the 45ft pit. Other officials put the total at nearer 300.
Satellite images taken on March 31, while Russian troops were still in control of the area, clearly show the existence of the grave – giving proof to the lie peddled by Moscow that it was dug by Ukrainian forces. Satellite firm Maxar said images taken as far back as March 10 show what appear to be preparations to construct the pit.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said Russian troops had instigated a ‘deliberate massacre’ in Bucha and branded them ‘worse than ISIS’. Photos from the ground showed bodies left to rot alongside roads, some of them with their hands tied, others piled on top of car tyres as if to be burned. Witnesses gave horrifying accounts of torture and rape by Putin’s men.
Footage released by the Ukrainian military showed what appeared to be a ‘torture chamber’ in a building used as a barracks by Russian troops in Bucha. The bodies of civilians were lined up against a wall in the basement, kneeling, having been killed. At least one had been shot through the knee before being killed, the military said.
Civilian survivors said some bodies left on the streets had been run over by Russian tanks and ‘squashed like animal skin rugs’. Others reported seeing soldiers shoot dead elderly civilians in front of their relatives.
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