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AeroVironment has introduced a long-range tracking antenna (LRTA) to extend the capabilities of its Puma AE unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and enhance safety during combat. 

The Puma AE is a man-portable and hand-launched small UAS that is designed primarily to execute intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.

The new upgraded capability increases Puma AE’s range to approximately 60km, while it also improves its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment vice-president and general manager Kirk Flittie said: “The LRTA enables Puma AE operators to gather critical ISR data while positioned much further from dangerous hostile fire.

“Importantly, this technology provides our customers with a UAS solution that can triple the range of existing Puma systems that use our standard omnidirectional antenna.”

Features of the rugged frame antenna are an automated tracking function, a self-contained uninterruptible power supply (UPS), and an automated tracking function (two-axis positioner) for a secure and reliable link with the Puma when operating at extended range.

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Designed for operation in harsh conditions, the LRTA eliminates the need for modifications to Puma systems that are compatible with M3 / M4 Digital Data Link (DDL) radios.

The antenna can be integrated with AeroVironment’s Mantis i45 electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) gimbal sensor suite to offer Puma capabilities that are similar to higher UAS.

It is also compatible with a wide range of DDL-equipped flight and ground assets, providing direct access to real-time video downlink images and geodata.

Customers can start placing orders for the LRTA, with delivery scheduled to take place during the second quarter of next year.