AeroVironment announced the launch of its new Puma Long Endurance small unmanned aerial vehicle at the AUSA 2019 Annual Meeting & Exposition on Monday, October 14.
The Puma LE doubles the endurance of AeroVironment’s Puma 3 AE drone to 5.5 hours when using the built-in Mantis i45 gimbaled electro-optical/infra-red sensor and laser illuminator. It has an operational range 20 km, which can be trebled to 60 km when paired with the optional Long-Range Tracking Antenna.
Designed for land and maritime operations, the Puma family’s primary mission is intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance during day, night and low-light operations on land and in maritime environments.
The Puma LE features an internal secondary payload bay, providing 3.4 lb of secondary payload capacity in addition to the Mantis i45, enabling third-party payload integration such as electronic warfare systems, RF emitter geolocation, laser designation and communications relay.
AeroVironment says the system’s increased range, endurance and payload enables the Puma LE to deliver Group 2 UAS capabilities in a Group 1 footprint. The 22.5 pound (10.4 kg) Puma LE aircraft can be launched by hand or bungee. The typical operating altitude is 300 to 500 ft, and the company says the UAV is inaudible above 500 ft.
The Puma uses a precision inertial navigation system complemented by GPS. The ground control station allows manual control and programmable GPS-based autonomous navigation.
The company’s UAS use a “Family of Systems” concept, enabling other AeroVironment drones to be flown using the same ground control station and software, easily allowing interoperability across NATO forces, and reducing logistical and training impact. The Puma GCS can also be used with Raven and Wasp drones, and current Puma AE customers can now add Puma LE aircraft to existing systems.
“With Puma LE, AeroVironment expands the envelope of small unmanned aircraft systems, and enables our customers to proceed with certainty in ever-changing operational environments,” said Rick Pedigo, vice president of sales and business development for AeroVironment.