RQ-11 Raven SUAS

AeroVironment has introduced a new miniature gimballed sensor payload for the RQ-11B Raven Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) at the Quad A Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) 2012 meeting, being held in Tennessee, US.

AeroVironment senior vice president and Unmanned Aircraft Systems business general manager Tom Herring said the new mini-gimbal payload significantly increases the Raven system’s capability and can be easily integrated into the thousands of already deployed aircraft.

"The net result is a more capable solution for protecting and serving the warfighter for a fraction of the cost of a new system," Herring added.

Featuring a high-resolution colour and an infrared thermal video sensor, the new modular payload enhances the Raven’s target tracking capability by allowing higher level of visual fidelity and continuous observation of an item of interest irrespective of the air vehicle’s flight direction.

The payload also replaces two separate Raven system payloads, including a stationary electro-optical sensor and a stationary infrared sensor, that were previously required for day and night operation.

The payload also includes a laser illuminator integrated into a multi-axis sphere capable of continuous pan and will be provided as an upgrade for the previously fielded units.

Upgrading the current digital Raven systems to accommodate the new payload requires only a software update to each air vehicle and ground control station.

Integration of the new sensor payload marks the fourth upgrade to the Raven since its introduction in 2003 and follows the successful introduction of the company’s digital data link (DDL) to replace its original analogue communication modules.

The RQ-11 Raven is a light weight SUAS designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for military operations including for low-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and target acquisition missions.

Image: RQ-11 Raven UAS being assembled by a US Army soldier to conduct tactical reconnaissance operations. Photo: Dod photo by Tech. Sergeant Russell E. Cooley IV, U.S. Air Force.