Italian special operations forces have chosen to use the Israeli Hero-30 loitering munition over the American Switchblade.
This marks the first time a European country has opted for the Hero-30, a reusable system, rather than the Switchblade, which is not reusable. Special operations troops must travel light and rely more on reconnaissance and surveillance, making lightweight and portable munitions like these more desirable. Switchblade, regarded as a micro-UAV/cruise missile, first saw combat in 2009 and has been widely used since, with over 5,000 produced. In comparison, the Hero-30 weighs just 3 kg, can stay in the air for 30 minutes, and has a small warhead, allowing it to be reused. Israeli manufacturers have been producing loitering munitions since the 1990s, with the larger Hero systems based on the earlier, larger Hero 400. Despite upgrades to the Switchblade, it has never added reusability, while the Hero-30’s reusable feature makes it appealing for combat situations.