AeroVironment unveiled its new Puma LE unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 14 October at the 2019 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference, touting the aircraft as Group 2 capabilities in a Group 1 package.
Wahid Nawabi, company president and CEO, said on 14 October that the Puma LE provides greater endurance and payload capacities than typical Group 1 aircraft, which are considered the smallest on the UAV spectrum. AeroVironment, he said, is also targeting a Group 1 aircraft price point while still providing similar launch and landing footprints, portability, simplicity, and support logistics of Group 1 UAVs.
The Puma LE prototype, Nawabi said, has already flown multiple times, including the week of 7 October, and is on display at AUSA. He said the platform has also had select customer demonstrations.
Michael Jorgens, Puma LE product line manager, said on 14 October that the aircraft weighs 10.2 kg and can be launched by hand or bungee. The Puma LE is capable of performing two 5.5 hour missions enabled by a five-minute battery swap at the end of the first mission. Jorgens said a single 5.5 hour Puma LE mission is more than double the typical Group 1 time on station.
The Puma LE features a secondary payload bay with a total payload capacity of 2.5 kg. This secondary payload bay includes a dedicated power supply, providing 18-24 volts and up to 5 amps for the full duration of the flight. Jorgens believes the Puma LE is the ideal multimission-capable platform for third-party payloads performing missions including electronic warfare (EW), communications relay, radio frequency (RF) emitter, and geolocation, among others.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes