USMC Ravens get upgrade

Washington DC
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US Marines will get upgraded digital module kits for their hand-launched RQ-11B Raven unmanned air vehicles under a new $7.8 million order, says California-based AeroVironment, the UAV's manufacturer.

The 919 kits will allow the aircraft to operate on a different frequency band than the one provided by the factory configuration, the company says. The increased flexibility offered with varied frequencies means the UAV can be used by more diverse operators, from other militaries to law enforcement and civil groups.

The deal falls under an existing agreement with the US Army and funding was already secured in the fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill, which was signed into law in December 2009.

The 1.9kg (4.2lb) UAV can be carried in a backpack and is equipped with day and night video cameras for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition for tactical units. In late 2010, Norway joined the growing list of Raven operators, which already includes Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the USA.