US Navy destroyer tests RQ-20B Puma
AeroVironment’s RQ-20B Puma small UAS is being tested by the US Navy aboard a Flight I Guided Missile Destroyer, the company announced on 11 August.
Testing has involved the use of the UAS’ precision recovery system, which allows the UAS to be autonomously recovered aboard a ship without interruption to the ship’s operations. As the Puma AE is also designed to land and float in water, operators can opt to recover it from the ocean, according to mission requirements.
Puma AE carries a gimbaled payload that delivers high quality electro-optical and infrared imagery, and transmits data via AeroVironment’s secure Digital Data Link. The UAS improves situational awareness for the ship and also for boat crews who carry their own remote video terminal.
The US Department of Defense recently established the designation RQ-20B for the block 2 Puma AE small UAS. This system includes a more powerful and lighter propulsion system, lighter and stronger airframe, long endurance battery, precision inertial navigation system and an improved user interface.
Kirk Flittie, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS business segment, said: ‘Our precision recovery system expands the capability of Puma AE to support maritime operations. This solution also builds on AeroVironment’s extensive operational experience with small UAS to provide the navy with a low-cost, hand-launched capability optimised for contested environments.
‘Puma AE’s ability to operate from a wide variety of surface vessels ensures rapid response reconnaissance capabilities that help our customers operate more safely and effectively and proceed with certainty.’
The US Navy is also currently testing Puma AE from its patrol craft.
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