The US Army's newest aerial toy is a little different than the rest of its drone brethren. Instead of providing overhead video and maybe shooting off a missile, AeroVironment's Switchblade UAV is the missile. Portable, kamikaze death from above.
Each Switchblade pops out of a small-ish tube, guided by a joystick-connected goggles. Find your target, arm the drone, and crash it on purpose at high, explosiony speed. Instant missile. The Switchblade can also be used for recon-only, if a unit needs sudden aerial eyeballs—but having the ability to pull a guided missile out of nowhere is a serious boon to anyone in a pinned down position like the one above. Or anyone who just needs to blow something up on the cheap.
Even though they're disposable, they're likely vastly less expensive than, say, a Predator drone assault. MSNBC reports the Army's contract for the drones cost only $4.9 million for a batch—that's a little over what each Predator costs. It's still more expensive than shooting someone in the head, but handing these things out liberally would make soldiers smarter and more dangerous—though it certainly adds to the videogame-ification of warfare. [MSNBC via DefenseTech]