SWITCHBLADE & PHOENIX
Never ever weapons of war had such obnoxious names, but these are weapons in the latest ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. These weapons started gaining winning edge capability in the recent wars and finally are being given the pride of their place in military strategy and outright combat. These new weapons of war are drones. Bayraktar TB2 drones were used by Turkey in hitting targets in Iraq and Syria. It was also used by Azerbaijan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, where these drones provided the winning advantage. The current ongoing Russian Ukraine war has also witnessed the Bayraktar TB coming to the rescue of Ukraine. The Ukrainian President has been asking for drones, and some state of the art and ideally suited for his requirements is now being supplied by the US to bolster Ukrainian war effort.
The current war brought drones to the centerstage, which has been its defining contribution, to the paradigm shift in military strategy henceforth basing any major effort on drones. In this backdrop and sharp realization, courtesy Bayraktar TB2, now as a part of the US $800 million military support package, appeared 100 ”tactical unmanned aerial systems.” These are not the large US drones we have been accustomed to seeing. They have not made the tactical difference, they will. The 100 unmanned systems heading to Ukraine are small ”Switchblade” drones. Quite different to the long range Predator drones, which are like small planes, firing missiles as targets, the smallest Switchblade can fit in a rucksack. It flies directly into the target to denote its small warhead.
It is less than 2-feet long and weighs only about 5.5 pounds. The Switchblade 300 can be launched from a small tube that resembles a mortar. Once launched it can fly for up to 15 mins. It also has a larger model Switchblade 600. It is not known whether both the models are a part of the package. The other drone in the US kitty being handed over to Ukraine is Pheonix Ghost Drone. The US is supplying 121 of these drones to Ukraine. Phoenix Ghost Drones are being reported for the first time, and very little is known about their range or exact characteristics. Maybe, it is bringing in an element of surprise into this war. As per the Pentagon spokesperson, these drones are well enough for the wide landscape of Ukraine’s Donbas area, which is main target of Russian military onslaught now.
Phoenix was created by the US Air Force in collaboration with Aevex Aerospace of California. ”It is a unique kind of plane. It’s a one-way plane that can take down medium armoured surface targets.” Tactical strikes can be conducted as it is “one-way” mechanism, self-destructing on hitting the target. These drones are fitted with infrared sensors, which enables it to fly at night without any difficulty. Phoenix can operate up to six hours and also has a higher loitering duration than that of the Switchbalde. Though the production of these started before February 24, these were ”rapidly produced” for Ukraine. Adding to the capabilities of the Bayraktar TB2, these two drones are destined to tilt the war effort in a decisive manner. The right weapons of war can make a much stronger army to bite dust.
DRONE ARSENAL HAS BECOME THE MOST CRITICAL ELEMENT IN TODAY’s WAR.