The Biden administration is considering providing Ukraine with U.S.-made killer drones — cutting-edge guided missiles that could accurately target Russian tanks and artillery positions from miles away — two congressional officials briefed on the matter told NBC News.
No decisions have been made, but the officials said the White House is mulling whether to equip Ukraine with explosives-laden “loitering missiles,” called Switchblades, as part of a new package of military aid President Joe Biden is expected to discuss Wednesday.
There are two variants of the weapon, the Switchblade 300 and the 600, that have been sold to U.S. Special Operations Command by manufacturer AeroVironment, based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. The 300 is designed for pinpoint strikes on personnel, and the larger 600 is meant to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles.
NBC News reported on an exclusive demonstration of the Switchblade 300 in December. AeroVironment officials said at the time that the government forbade them from demonstrating the 600.
AeroVironment officials did not respond to requests for comment.
“We stand with our allies and sovereign nations in their right to protect their homelands and their very lives when this fundamental right is threatened,” the company said in a statement on its website headlined “AeroVironment stands with the people of Ukraine and all of NATO.”
The Switchblades are essentially robotic smart bombs, equipped with cameras, guidance systems and explosives. They can be programmed to automatically strike targets miles away, and they can be steered around objectives until the time is right to strike. The company says the 600 can fly for 40 minutes and up to 50 miles.