AeroVironment has received a contract to supply additional RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) Mantis i23 gimbaled sensor payloads to the US Army.
Awarded under the December 2012 indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract, the competitively awarded $20m deal provides for continued modernisation of the army's Raven fleet.
AeroVironment senior vice president and UAS business segment general manager Roy Minson said that the company has been focused on ensuring availability of the most capable, reliable and effective tactical UAS to its customers since delivery of the first Raven system to the army a decade previously.
''The Army's Raven system, with AeroVironment's rugged gimbaled sensor payload and the recent digital data link upgrade of its entire fleet, is a modern tool for gaining superiority on the battlefield,'' Minson added.
Mantis i23 is a rugged, multi-axis sensor payload with pan, tilt and zoom. It is designed to improve Raven's target-tracking capability by enabling a greater level of visual fidelity and continuous observation of an item of interest irrespective of the air vehicle's flight direction.
Featuring a high-resolution colour and infrared thermal video sensor, the modular payload replaces two separate Raven system payloads, including a stationary electro-optical sensor and a stationary infrared sensor required earlier for day and night operation.
The UAS is lightweight at 4.5lb, and is designed to perform low-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and target acquisition missions at ranges up to 10km in the battlefield.
Comprising of three aircraft, two ground control stations (GCS) and spares, the backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform is widely used by US forces for base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning and force protection operations. Deliveries under the contract are scheduled to take place within the year.
Image: A US soldier assembles a RQ-11 Raven UAV for aerial tactical reconnaissance mission in Taji, Iraq. Photo: DoD photo by Tech. Sergeant Russell E. Cooley IV, U.S. Air Force. (Released).