US SOCOM expands Puma purchase

Washington DC
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US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will spend $35.3 million on Puma All Environment (AE) unmanned air vehicles, says manufacturer Aerovironment.

SOCOM has been operating the Puma since it was selected as its all-environment capable variant UAV in 2008. Under the existing indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity deal, the Pentagon will get the improved Puma AE aircraft plus spares and training services.

The AE replaced the original 5.4kg (11.9lb), 2.5m (8.2ft) wingspan Puma in March 2009. The slightly larger version is equipped with a mechanically gimballed electro-optical/infrared payload. The newer Puma AE has a range of up to 15km (8nm), limited by line-of-sight communications.

The close-range, hand-launched UAV weighs about 5.9kg, has a 2.6m wingspan and can remain aloft for 4h at a time.

 
© Aerovironment

One Puma AE system consists of three air vehicles and two ground control stations. Capable of performing multiple surveillance and reconnaissance missions over water or land, Puma systems will be used by soldiers to protect troops and vehicles in combat areas, Aerovironment says.

Work is scheduled to be performed within a period of several months, the company says.