WEAPONRY AND EQUIPMENT: Little Raven UAV Getting Improved Sensor Payload
Moving Eye in the Sky (Adds dropped material)
The widely used, hand-launched RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) is getting an improved sensor payload that will make it more effective in providing situational awareness for troops on the ground.
AeroVironment Inc., the Raven’s manufacturer unveiled a new miniature gimbaled sensor payload for the RQ-11B this week at the annual professional forum and expo of the Army Aviation Association of America in Nashville, Tenn.
The 4.5-pound Raven, which can be carried disassembled in a backpack and launched by a single soldier, is 38 inches long with a wingspan of 55 inches. It provides wireless realtime video imagery to a ground control station.
The modular payload includes a high resolution color and infrared thermal video sensor on a gimbal, or small turret. The new payload replaces two stationary payloads – an electro-optical sensor and an infrared sensor – for day and night operation. The gimbaled sensor payload will enhance the Raven’s capabilities by allowing both higher visual fidelity and continuous observation of an item of interest – regardless of which direction the SUAS is flying.
AeroVironment says the new payload will be a standard component of future Raven systems and will be sold as an upgrade for already fielded units. AeroVironment recently was awarded an $11 million contract by the U.S. Army to provide logistics support for Raven systems. The cost-plus-fixed-fee sole source contract covers Army, Marine Corps and Raven systems acquired by foreign militaries through the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) program. Under the FMS program the U.S. government procures defense articles and services on behalf of about 160 countries deemed eligible by the president and vetted by the State Department.
In its Fiscal 2013 budget request, the Army is seeking $26 million to acquire Ravens for small unit intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. In 2012 Congress authorized the purchase of 900 Ravens for $60 million. The raven is also used by the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command.
Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency, Iraq, Skills and Training, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Air Force, Army, Counter Insurgency, Defense, military aviation, RQ-11B Raven, SUAS, UAS, UAV.