Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s impassionate plea at the US Congress yesterday, President Biden had approved an additional $800 million security assistance package to Ukraine, bringing the total amount of military aid the US has sent to Zelensky to $2 billion. In a new revelation, top Republican and Texas Representative Mike McCaul revealed that the US was sending 100 Switchblade drones to Ukraine as part of said $800 million military aid package.

“America is leading this effort, together with our allies and partners, providing enormous levels of security and humanitarian assistance that we’re adding to today, and we’re going to do more in the days and weeks ahead,” the US President said. He was also very straight forward with the situation, telling Americans that “this could be a long and difficult battle,” and further stated that “the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations.”

The new assistance package includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 2,000 Javelins, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems, 100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, 400 shotguns, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds, 25,000 sets of body armor, and lastly 25,000 helmets.

As reported by POLITICO in an interview with top Republican and Texas Representative Mike McCaul, who is part of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the US will be sending 100 Switchblade drones to Ukraine to bolster its arsenal of tactical drones, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been utilizing to extremely good effect. The Switchblade drones may be the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems that the White House had announced earlier as part of the $800 million assistance package. However, it has not yet been confirmed by the Department of Defense whether all the 100 drones are Switchblades, but it was “certainly safe to assume one of the purposes of these unmanned aerial systems would be to deliver a punch,” a US official told Aviation Week Pentagon Editor Brian Everstine.

The Switchblade, made by AeroVironment Inc., is a kamikaze suicide drone. It does not fire a weapon – rather, it is the weapon itself. It is a small human-guided missile that is intended for precise targeting of soft targets. It can also give ground troops an opportunity to scout an area out, acting as a reconnaissance drone and a missile at the same time. It’s a small, light drone that can fly up to 15-40 minutes in the air and uses a real-time GPS guidance system to fly it to the target. In practical terms an infantry squad can carry several of these and use them to take out mortar positions, communications vehicles or even individual commanders outside of firearms ranges.  Ukraine has been pretty successful in targeting senior Russian troop commanders in the fields and we can imagine small units carrying 10-20 of these drones conducting precision strikes on individual targets almost like snipers.  In fact, the could be used to augment and support sniper teams.

The Switchblade carries the Javelin multi-purpose warhead and coming down from above, would be devastating to Russian armor as well.  At just $6,000 per copy, it’s a pretty cheap munition to expend too.

It can be remembered that the Ukrainians have been utilizing their Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drones to pulverize Russian armored columns, which had exposed very large gaps with the Russians’ ability to dominate the skies in Ukraine. Russian surface-to-air missiles such as the Russian Buk-M1-2 Air Defense Missile System have not been able to effectively target the drone, leaving the Russian troops quite vulnerable to drone attacks. The drone has been so effective that the Ukrainians have a song for the TB2 entitled “Bayraktar,” a patriotic song sung by soldiers and protesters alike.