Monrovia, Calif.-based AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV ) has pocketed a near-$16 million contract.
On Wednesday, AeroVironment announced that the U.S. Army Close Combat Weapons Systems Program Executive Office Missiles and Space has placed five orders totaling $15.8 million in combined value for the company's Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicle.
Described as "the first smart loitering weapon," Switchblade is a tube-launched UAV that the company says "can deliver precision effects kilometers away with in-flight retargeting, target verification and pinpoint delivery, all resulting in little or no collateral effects." In layman's terms, Switchblade resembles a small guided missile, featuring a camera through which its remote operator can see and home in on its target, and a small warhead, built by Alliant Techsystems, with which to kill it.
AeroVironment did not disclose how many Switchblades the Army is buying, but in a February 2013 article, the Army's Rapid Equipping Force director was quoted saying, "we need dramatically more" Switchblade systems than had been supplied to the military as of late 2012.