Puma AE UAV ordered for US Air Force
AeroVironment has announced that it has received a firm fixed-price order from the US Air Force (USAF) for its Puma AE small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as part of an existing US Army contract. AeroVironment made the announcement 18 April 2012.
The Puma AE will join a number of AeroVironment UAVs in service with the USAF, including the RQ-11B Raven and Wasp small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS). AeroVironment said that the Puma will bring ‘a more comprehensive set of capabilities for force protection and force multiplication, anywhere and at any time’.
According to AeroVironment, the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) selected the Puma UAS in 2008 for its AECV programme after a full and open competition, the fourth US Department of Defense competition for programmes of record involving small UAS and the fourth such competition won by AeroVironment. In 2011 the US Army assumed management of the AECV programme.
Each Puma system consists of three air vehicles and two ground control systems. The air vehicle carries an integrated electro-optical and infrared gimbaled video camera, is designed for enhanced survivability in land and maritime environments, and can operate effectively in foul weather and over rugged terrain. Its quiet operation, stabilised imagery and precision landing capability make Puma systems easy to operate and recover. The Puma air vehicle weighs 13 pounds, is battery powered and has a flight endurance of two hours.
Delivery for the aircraft is scheduled to take place within two weeks. The order is valued at $2,431,440.
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