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Puma unmanned craft tested on USS Gonzalez

By
Ryan Maass
Quartermaster 3rd Class N. Wylie launches PUMA II, a small unmanned aircraft system aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class D. C. Ortega
Quartermaster 3rd Class N. Wylie launches PUMA II, a small unmanned aircraft system aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez. U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class D. C. Ortega

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy tested the RQ-20A Puma (Block II) unmanned aircraft at sea on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez, the Navy announced on Wednesday.

The testing was part of a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPUTEX), and was used to observe the effectiveness of the second iteration of the all-environment Puma variant. The Puma is designed for maritime use, and can be used in situations requiring greater maneuverability with unmanned craft.

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The Puma is notable for its ability to operate under extreme weather conditions, being able to withstand temperatures ranging from -20 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also built to endure wind speeds up to 25 knots, and an inch of rain per hour.

Once launched, the craft can be controlled remotely from inside the ship. During the tests, a two-person team controlled the Puma locally.

The RQ-20A Puma was manufactured by California-based tech developer AeroVironment, and took its first flight in 2007. The product specializes in surveillance and intelligence gathering, and is built to be used from both land and sea platforms. It uses both electro-optical and infared cameras,

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The craft has a water-proof body, and is powered by smart batteries, enabling the craft to endure three and a half hours of flight.

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