Wasp Class Stinger

Thursday, August 11, 2016

UAVs for Everyone: Navy Deploys Small UAV to Ships

Seapower magazine reports U.S. Navy Deploying Newly Designated RQ-20B AeroVironment Puma AE:
The U.S. Navy has tested and deployed the AeroVironment RQ-20B Puma small
AeroVironment image
unmanned aircraft system (UAS) aboard a Flight I Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the company announced in an Aug. 11 release. Some of these exercises included the use of AeroVironment’s fully autonomous system to recover the aircraft aboard a ship. The U.S. Navy issued a report on Aug. 3 from the Arabian Gulf describing how Puma AE is also being utilized on Navy patrol craft.


Following completion of a Puma AE intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, the AeroVironment Precision Recovery System provides for the autonomous on-board recovery of the aircraft, without interrupting the ship’s operations. Because the Puma AE is also designed to land and float in water, operators can choose to recover it from the ocean, should mission requirements dictate.

The AeroVironment Precision Recovery System occupies a small footprint and can be managed and operated by members of a ship’s crew, as opposed to requiring external contractors. It is transported in tactical packaging that can be hand-carried aboard and readily transferred from one ship to another.

“Our Precision Recovery System expands the capability of Puma AE to support maritime operations,” Kirk Flittie, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment, said in the release. “This solution also builds on AeroVironment’s extensive operational experience with small UAS to provide the Navy with a low-cost, hand-launched capability optimized for contested environments. Puma AE’s ability to operate from a wide variety of surface vessels ensures rapid response reconnaissance capabilities that help our customers operate more safely and effectively and proceed with certainty.”
More info from the manufacturer:
The Puma AE (All Environment) is a small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed for land based and maritime operations. Capable of landing in the water or on land, the Puma AE empowers the operator with an operational flexibility never before available in the small UAS class.

The Puma AE is durable with a reinforced fuselage construction, man portable for ease of mobility and requires no auxiliary equipment for launch or recovery operations. The system is quiet to avoid detection and operates autonomously, providing persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting data (ISRT).

The Puma AE delivers 3.5+ hours of flight endurance, with versatile smart battery options to support diverse mission requirements. Its powerful propulsion system and aerodynamic design make it efficient and easy to launch, especially in high altitudes and hotter climates. A plug and play power adapter is provided for easy integration of future extended endurance options, such as, solar and fuel cell solutions.

It carries both an electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) camera plus illuminator on a lightweight mechanical gimbaled payload, allowing the operator to keep “eyes on target.” For increased payload capacity, an optional under wing Transit Bay is available for easy integration of 3rd party payloads such as communications relay, geo locations, or laser marker to meet the diverse needs of military or civilian applications.

The precision navigation system with secondary GPS provides greater positional accuracy and reliability of the Puma AE. The UAV is operated from AeroVironment’s battle proven ground control station (GCS) with a communications range of 15 km.
MShip image
A 15km range seems short for ship ops. On the other hand . . . it might meet certain needs in other ops. As in this interesting bit from here:
The UK tested ISR packages compatible with the Puma AE on board the M80 Stiletto trials ship in November 2014 under Capability Demonstration 15-1.

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