AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma

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RQ-20 Puma
RQ20A-130304-M-DE426-001 crop.jpg
RQ-20A launch by US Marine; his hand gives an idea of scale
Role Remote controlled UAS
Manufacturer AeroVironment
First flight 2007
Primary users United States Army
United States Marine Corps
Number built 1000+
Unit cost
$250,000

The AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma is a small, battery powered, American hand-launched unmanned aircraft system produced by AeroVironment based in California. Primary mission is surveillance and intelligence gathering using an electro-optical and infrared video camera.

Previously selected for the United States Special Operations Command in 2008, in March 2012 the United States Army ordered the Puma All Environment (AE) and designated it the RQ-20A. [1] In April, the United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force placed a similar order for the RQ-20A.[2][3] Each military RQ-20A system has three air vehicles and two ground stations.[1]

On 26 July 2013, the Puma became one of the first unmanned aerial vehicles to be granted certification by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in U.S. airspace for commercial purposes. AeroVironment expects one to be deployed to Alaska to support oil spill response crews and count wildlife. The Puma can safely accomplish observation missions in hazardous Arctic locations, which is safer, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than using manned aircraft. Commercial certification was the result of previous military certification and the Congressionally-mandated opening of airspace over much of Alaska to small UAVs.[4] The FAA also certified the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle, also planned to be deployed to Alaska. Only three individual Pumas were certified with strict requirements: only one aircraft of the type is allowed airborne at any one time, they cannot fly through clouds or icing conditions, and they cannot take off or land during certain gust and wind conditions. The certifications did not mention line-of-sight control.[5]

On 8 June 2014, the Puma AE made its first flight for BP in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, making it the first authorized unmanned commercial flight over land. [6]

The UK is testing ISR packages compatible with the Puma AE on board the M80 Stiletto trials ship in November 2014 under Capability Demonstration 15-1.[7]

Variants[edit]

RQ-20A Puma
Military designation for the Puma All Environment variant.
Solar Puma
Puma AE powered by ultra-thin solar cells that increases endurance to 9 hours.[8] Production version planned for early 2014.[9]
Enhanced Puma
Upgrade of the RQ-20A Puma AE with more powerful propulsion system and new batteries that increase endurance by 75 percent to three and a half hours, auxiliary payload bay to integrate payloads while keeping the video camera, precision navigation system with secondary GPS, and a redesigned durable fuselage with reinforced construction and improved aerodynamics. Will be available in early 2014.[10]

Operators[edit]

 United States

Specification[edit]

Data from [13]Puma AE data sheet

General characteristics

  • Length: 4 ft 7 in (1.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 9 ft 2 in (2.8 m)
  • Max takeoff weight: 13 lb (5.9 kg)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 52 mph; 45 kn (83 km/h)
  • Minimum control speed: 23 mph; 20 kn (37 km/h)
  • Range: 9 mi; 8 nmi (15 km)
  • Endurance: 2 hours

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]