AeroVironment (AV) has been awarded USD44.5 million to supply its RQ-20B Puma II AE unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to a Middle East contract, the company announced on 6 March.
The contract, which is the largest such award so far received by AV, is for an unnamed “major” Middle Eastern nation. No details as to the number of systems or the delivery timeline were released.
Also known as the Block 2, the Puma II AE is a manportable, hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for land-based and maritime operations and is capable of landing in water or on land. Designed to be flown autonomously or via AV’s common ground control station (GCS), the Puma AE provides a persistent intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR), force-protection and ‘over-the-hill’ reconnaissance capability.
The RQ-20B Puma II AE that is the subject of this contract differs from the baseline RQ-20A-model in that it is equipped with longer-life battery power sources (increasing endurance to 3.5 hours and range to 20 km), has a ‘transit bay’ that can accommodate ‘additional payloads’, utilises composites in its construction, and features the AV Mantis i45 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) gimballed camera. Beyond the Puma AE and the Puma II AE, AV is developing a Block 3 Puma III AE that will feature a strengthened airframe, modernised datalink, new avionics, and a new infrared sensor.
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