MONROVIA, Calif., June 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has ordered small unmanned aircraft systems with miniaturized, gimbaled payloads from AeroVironment.
The order for RQ-11B Ravens, which also includes spares, is worth $15.8 million and is an initial procurement under a $65.9 million award to the company.
"The U.S. Army has more than 1,700 Raven systems in its inventory with an ultimate goal of more than 2,300 systems," said Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager, Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
"Since winning the Army's small unmanned aircraft system competition in 2005 we have focused on delivering highly reliable, highly capable Raven systems and on continuously enhancing their capabilities.
"The new miniature gimbaled payload is the latest example of cost-effective improvements that will benefit soldiers directly through enhanced situational awareness."
AeroVironment's Mantis line of miniature gimbaled sensor payloads weigh less than 15.9 ounces. The multi-axis Mantis i23 houses an electro-optical and infrared thermal video sensor in addition to a laser illuminator, One Mantis payload replaces two separate sensor payloads that were used before.
The hand-launched Raven itself is 4.2 pounds in weight and provides in the field with "over-the-hill" and "around-the-corner" reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition information.
AeroVironment said initial order units -- each unit consisting of three aircraft and two ground control stations -- will all be delivered to the Army by April 2013.