The US Army is within weeks of issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for between 600 and 1,100 small unmanned air-vehicle systems for introduction to service with a wide range of its operating units. The requirement, which also covers the provision of equipment for US Special Operations Command, will build on the limited introduction of 185 Raven systems acquired from US manufacturer Aerovironment to meet an urgent wartime requirement to field a hand-launched UAV. The contest will be between the Raven and numerous other systems.

The army between May 2004 and early this year trained 650 soldiers in Kuwait and the USA to operate the Raven, which has an operating range of 8-20km (4.3-10.8nm) and a battery endurance of 60-90min, says Lt Col Andrew Ramsey, the US Army's programme manager for ground manoeuvre UAVs. Each Raven system comprises one air vehicle plus two spares and a manportable ground control station, enabling small units to deploy the system.

Source: Flight International