AeroVironment has been awarded a contract for delivery of additional RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) along with its new Mantis i23 miniature gimbaled payloads to the US Army.
To be funded through the army’s fiscal 2012 procurement budget, the $16.4m funding forms part of a $65.8m contract, and covers the supply of unspecified units of RQ-11B Raven systems, payloads and initial spares packages to the army.
The initial $15.8m contract was secured by the company in June 2012.
AeroVironment senior vice president and Unmanned Aircraft Systems general manager Roy Minson said that the payload’s dependability in delivering quality imagery and tracking capability in harsh environments was enabling rapid and efficient integration into the Raven system.
"We anticipate our new payload, an example of our focus on continuous and cost-effective capability enhancement for the warfighter, will become a standard component of currently fielded and future Raven systems," Minson added.
Weighing 450g, the Mantis i23 is a ruggedised, multi-axis payload 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 an 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 payload was launched by the company at the Quad-A Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) 2012 meeting, held in Tennessee, US, in April.
Deliveries under the new contract are scheduled to complete by 30 June 2013, while the systems under previous order will be delivered by 30 April 2013.
The RQ-11 Raven is a lightweight SUAS designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for military operations, such as low-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and target acquisition missions.
Image: A US Army soldier prepares to launch RQ-11 Raven SUAS in Iraq. Photo: courtesy of sgt 1st class Michael Guillory.