UAS Integration

Army Plans To Field More Than 1,000 Switchblade 600 Attack Drones For Replicator

The Army plans to buy and field more than a thousand Switchblade 600 loitering munitions over the next year for the Pentagon’s Replicator initiative, a senior service official has said.

Gen. James Mingus, the Army’s vice chief of staff, provided an update on quantities for the AeroVironment-built attack drone during a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee field hearing at the Defense Innovation Unit’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., on June 21.

“That was an innovation that we had worked collectively together, it’s a loitering munition, which we then included as part of Replicator Tranche One,” Mingus said. “We are now going to scale and scope that to over 1,000 [systems] here in the next year or so.”

The Pentagon in early May confirmed that AeroVironment’s Switchblade 600 was one of the capabilities selected for mass production under the first tranche of its Replicator initiative.

“U.S.-supplied Switchblade drones have already demonstrated their utility in Ukraine, and this system will provide additional capability to U.S. forces,” the Pentagon said in a statement at the time.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks first announced the Replicator initiative in late August 2023, detailing the effort to produce and field thousands of “all-domain attritable autonomous systems, or ADA2 capabilities, over the coming 18-24 months “to help us overcome [China’s] biggest advantage, which is mass.”

Hicks last month confirmed the Pentagon recently began delivering the first unmanned systems for its Replicator initiative. 

DoD has declined to disclose many details on Replicator, to include naming specific systems involved or breaking down funding lines, with the department having reiterated that the first tranche involved “certain capabilities that remain classified, including others in the maritime domain and some in the counter-UAS portfolio.”

A version of this story originally appeared in affiliate publication Defense Daily.

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