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US DoD awards $32 Mn contract to AeroVironment for additional RQ-20B Puma UAS.

| Defense News Army 2024

On December 29, 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded AeroVironment a $32 million contract to procure additional RQ-20B Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).
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AeroVironment RQ-20B Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). (Picture source: US DoD)

The contract, an amendment to a pre-existing agreement, is valued at nearly $32 million. It encompasses the purchase of additional Puma drones and the provision of comprehensive training support services. The contract specifies that the designated work will be carried out at AeroVironment’s facility in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, with an expected completion date of September 30, 2024.

The RQ-20B is an upgraded version of the Puma UAS, designed and manufactured by the American company AeroVironment. It is tailored for tactical intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISRT), maritime patrol, search and rescue (SAR), and counter-illicit trafficking missions.

The RQ-20B can fly at speeds ranging from 37 to 84 km/h and transmit telemetry data over a range of 15 km. It can fly at an altitude of 500 feet and offers a flight duration of more than three hours.

One of the notable features of the Puma is its ability to automatically track moving targets, coupled with a "follow-me" mode that maintains the drone's relative position to the operator. This enhances its efficiency in dynamic and mobile operations.

The RQ-20B carries an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera system and illuminator in a lightweight, mechanically-stabilized gimbal payload pod fitted beneath the fuselage. It can also carry additional payloads, such as a laser marking system, communications relay, and geolocation sensor, in an optional under-wing Transit Bay.

Equipped with a fully gimbaled sensor suite, the Puma offers a range of capabilities including Electro-Optical (EO), Infrared (IR), and illuminator functions. This multi-faceted sensor technology allows for versatile operational use, day or night, across various mission profiles.

This combination of range, altitude, and duration positions the Puma as a critical tool for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting operations, enhancing the Army's capabilities in these key areas.


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