Ukraine

Switchblade: A look at the drone the US is sending to Ukraine

Drones have been a vital part of Ukrainian efforts to fight off the Russian invasion.

The US has promised to send the sophisticated Switchblade drone to Kyiv.

Drones have played a vital role in Ukrainian efforts to fight off the Russian invasion.

The Switchblade, sometimes called the Kamikaze, was introduced in 2011 – developed for US Special Forces in Afghanistan.

It could be carried in a soldier's backpack and instantly used to take out targets from above without a potentially lengthy wait for air support.

The original, now known as the Switchblade 300, is just over half-a-metre long and weighs fewer than 3kg.

It has a range of 10km and a loitering time of 15 minutes, designed to attack personnel and light vehicles.

In March, the Biden administration said the US would send 100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems to Ukraine as part of an $800m military aid package.

The systems are thought to each carry 10 Switchblade drones – a potential total of 1,000.

Watch: UK to send more anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, PM says.

Earlier this month, Washington revealed 10 of the larger 'tank-busting' Switchblade 600 model drones would form part of the package.

They are significantly heavier than their 'Switchblade 300' relatives, at 23kg, but can still be set up in only 10 minutes and carried around by troops.

The '600' is made to fly out to 40km in 20 minutes, and loiter for a further 20 minutes, giving it a total range of 80km.

It can attack targets at a dash speed of 185km/h, carrying a Javelin anti-armour warhead designed to neutralise armoured vehicles.

The need for the Switchblade has become increasingly urgent on the Ukrainian frontline, as the Russians have become more adept at taking out less sophisticated drones.