Military and Strategic Journal
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Founded in August 1971

2018-05-01

AeroVironment Unveils Updated Puma 3

AeroVironment, Inc., a manufacturer UAS for both defense and commercial applications, announced at the recently concluded AUSA Global Force Symposium that the company is now taking orders for its new Puma 3 small unmanned aircraft system.
 
“We are in constant communication with our customers to ensure they have the most innovative and advanced small drones to successfully complete their missions. As a result of their feedback, the new Puma 3 includes air vehicle upgrades for operation in even more rugged environments than before, improved ability to support advanced third-party payloads and software applications and reliability in challenging electronic warfare/cyber environments where interference is prevalent,” said David Sharpin, vice president of AeroVironment’s Tactical UAS business.
 
AeroVironment upgraded the Puma’s airframe to enable robust operation of its i45 EO/IR sensor suite with SIGINT payloads in harsh and demanding environments. In addition, the Puma 3 incorporates AeroVironment’s latest digital data link (DDL) with security upgrades to support operation in more challenging radio frequency (RF) environments, with M1/M2/M5 and M3/M4/M6 frequency bands and with AES-256 encryption.
 
Sharpin added that, as part of on-going efforts to stay at the forefront of battery technology, AeroVironment is releasing a new Puma smart battery that is more efficient and includes safety enhancements.
 
The company has also optimised the portability of Puma from six transport cases to four, with a flyable configuration in a single transport case that features luggage-type handles. All these upgrades are incorporated while maintaining Puma 3’s all-environment capability. The complete system of three air vehicles and two ground control stations are now transportable in four portable cases.
 
Raven 3
Furthermore, AeroVironment is also developing an upgrade to the RQ-11B Raven, called Raven 3. The upgraded Raven system will incorporate new camera technology into the i23 gimbaled sensor, similar to advancements made to Puma 3 and its i45 gimbal. These upgrades are still in progress.
 
Raven can be operated manually or programmed for autonomous operation, utilising the system’s advanced avionics and precise GPS navigation. With a wingspan of 4.5 feet and a weight of 4.2 pounds, the hand-launched Raven provides aerial observation, day or night, at line-of-sight ranges up to 10 kilometres. It is available with an optional stabilised gimbaled payload, delivers real-time colour or infrared imagery to the ground control and remote viewing stations. 
While Raven 3 will feature a new smart battery with an integrated state-of-the-charge indicator and improved safety and reliability during charging and flight operations. Raven 3 will also include an optional AVTracker capability, which improves Raven’s ability to maintain “eyes on target.”
 
Upgrades
“The Puma 3 and Raven 3 upgrades are based on customer feedback and provide enhanced capabilities while preserving backward compatibility for our users,” said Kirk Flittie, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems business unit. “While thousands of our small UAS are working hard every day in rugged locations around the globe, we are always listening to our customers to determine how we can enhance our family of systems to make it even more powerful and reliable, especially in the highest risk operations. The upgrades include durability enhancements to the aircraft to operate in more rugged environments; improved ability to support advanced third-party payloads and software applications and enhanced performance in challenging radio electronic warfare/cyber environments where interference is prevalent. In addition to product enhancements, we are currently working with several customers on certification of our existing and upgraded UAS to operate in their national airspace systems. We take airworthiness and certification of our systems, and the components that go into our UAS, very seriously.”
 
The next-generation avionics suite on the Puma 3 and Raven 3 will include specialised processors to support advanced navigation techniques and third-party algorithms. Additionally, customers will be able to interface with next generation GPS modules for operation in GPS-challenged environments. Both aircraft will have an improved inertial measurement unit to enhance their flying capability.
 
Puma 3 features enhanced composite structures to support landing with heavier configurations and at higher altitudes. It will incorporate a new, more efficient smart battery as well as enhancements to battery safety. 
 
Reference Text/Photo: www.avinc.com

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