The U.S. Army has ordered more, small RQ-11B Raven unmanned aerial vehicles from AeroVironment, a producer of surveillance and reconnaissance UAVs, which is to equip the Ravens with miniaturized electro-optical systems, infrared thermal video sensors and a laser illuminator to conduct day and night surveillance.
The RQ-11B Raven UAV is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery wirelessly to a portable ground control station for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, AeroVironment says. U.S. armed forces use Raven systems extensively for missions such as base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning and force protection. Each Raven system typically consists of three aircraft, two ground control stations and spares.
The Army has more than 1,700 Raven systems, and its goal is to have more than 2,300 systems, said Roy Minson, AeroVironment’s senior vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “The new miniature gimbaled payload is the latest example of cost-effective improvements that will benefit soldiers directly through enhanced situational awareness,” he said.
AeroVironment says its Mantis line of miniature gimbaled sensor payloads weigh less than 15.9 ounces. The multi-axis Mantis i23 houses an electro-optical and infrared thermal video sensor in addition to a laser illuminator, and a single Mantis payload replaces two separate sensor payloads that were previously used, the company said.