AeroVironment confirmed on July 22 that it has received two firm-fixed-price contracts from the US Air Force (USAF) – worth US$15.94m – covering the procurement of Puma 3 AE unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), as well as support for the service’s existing fleet of Raven platforms.
While the US-based US developer announced receipt of the two contracts on July 22, the orders were officially received on April 19 and May 6, 2021, respectively. Although the number of Puma 3 AE systems ordered has not been declared, AeroVironment confirmed that these UAS, along with their associated spares, were delivered to the USAF on April 30. The company adds that the delivery of spares relating to the service’s existing Raven fleet is scheduled to occur by November 2021.
Trace Stevenson, vice president and product line general manager for Small UAS at AeroVironment, said: “The combat-proven Puma 3 AE and Raven are versatile, rugged and reliable tactical unmanned aircraft systems designed to provide the [USAF] Security Forces with the enhanced situational awareness and mission effectiveness they require when safeguarding bases.”
AeroVironment’s hand-launched Puma 3 AE UAS has been designed from the outset for operations in all-environments and can be used in support of both land and maritime operations. The platform is capable of landing in water or on land, has a 9.2ft wingspan and weights approximately 15lb.
It has an operational endurance of up to two-and-a-half hours and a range of 12.4 miles (20km) with a standard antenna, or up to 37.2 miles (60km) with AeroVironment’s Long-Range Tracking Antenna. The UAS is also equipped with a Mantis i45 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor suite.
The company’s hand-launched Raven UAS is smaller than the Puma 3 AE, weighing just 4.2lb with a wingspan of 4.2ft. Designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for operations with low-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements, the Raven can provide situational awareness for ground forces in both day and night conditions. It has an operational range of 6.2 miles (10km) and is equipped with a Mantis i23 EO/IR gimbaled payload, which can deliver real-time video or IR imagery to ground control and remote viewing stations nearby.
Both the Puma 3 AE and the Raven can be operated using AeroVironment’s next-generation ground control solution for command and control (C2) – Crysalis – which the company says “improves battlefield communication and collaboration by enabling users to easily share real-time information and coordinate mission-critical decisions.”