Written by Anastasiia Vozovych
On June 21, the French officials confirmed their intent to purchase the US-made loitering munitions to strengthen the at-a-distance weapon system.
Loitering munitions, also known as ‘suicide’ or ‘kamikaze’ drones, clawed their way at the trade rounds around ten years ago. However, they are catching on only now, in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The Ukrainian Armed Forces successfully used them to destroy Russian artillery.
The loitering munition passed ‘baptism by fire’ in 2020 amid the appalling confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijani over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. At that time, the Azerbaijani kamikaze drones successfully demolished the Russian tanks T-72.
One of the main advantages of kamikaze drones is their size, which allows them to remain stealthy and elusive for a long time during their mission. In fact, stealth technologies contain a bunch of features created to make an object undetectable. Furthermore, the Switchblade drones, manufactured by AeroVironment, are primed to indicate the means for neutralising the vehicles within 5-50 km, building upon the capability, which differs from a mortar round or artillery shelling.
Neither the French officials nor the traders specified how many units were requested; however, some Paris-based outlets revealed that the ministry was looking for 82 remotely operated items.
The U.S. State Department’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency refused to provide any comments regarding the potential arms sales until the congressional notification was received. The company providing the kamikaze drones, AeroVironment, refused to give any information regarding the potential sales. They claimed their product started getting more hits since the Defence Department disclosed its intent to deliver the drones to Ukraine. The French Armed Forces seek to secure the perimeters and vehicles, minimising the price for the corresponding weapons. According to French officials, they have a bunch of solutions, but the main problem remains steeped in the high cost.
Machi, V. (2022, June 22) France requests Switchblade loitering munition to fill ‘urgent’ capability gap. https://www.defensenews.com/unmanned/2022/06/22/france-requests-switchblade-loitering-munition-to-fill-urgent-capability-gap/
Magnuson, S. (2022, June 13) EUROSATORY NEWS: French Army to Acquire First Loitering Munitions. https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2022/6/13/french-army-to-acquire-first-loitering-munitions
Shaikh, S., Rumbaugh, W. (2020, December 8). The Air and Missile War in Nagorno-Karabakh: Lessons for the Future of Strike and Defense https://www.csis.org/analysis/air-and-missile-war-nagorno-karabakh-lessons-future-strike-and-defense